February 19, 2015
1 min read

Teens who disclose LGBT status have greater self-esteem, less depression

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Adolescents who disclosed that they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to their peers at school had greater self-esteem and less symptoms of depression during young adulthood, according to data published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

“Until now, a key question about balancing the need to protect LGBT youth from harm while promoting their well-being has not been addressed: Do the benefits of coming out at school outweigh the increased risk of victimization? Our study points to the positive role of coming out for youth and young adult well-being,” Stephen T. Russell, PhD, Director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families in the University of Arizona’s John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, said in a press release.

Stephen T. Russell

Stephen T. Russell

Russell and colleagues collected data from the Family Acceptance Project’s young adult survey, including 114 males, 110 females and 21 transgender-identified young adults. Of those, 70% were identified as gay or lesbian, 13% as bisexual, and 17% as transgender.

Researchers measured the adolescents’ disclosure of sexuality status while at school, their self-reported past victimizations at school; young adult depression, self-esteem and life satisfaction.

The results demonstrated that teens who disclosed their sexuality at school incurred more victimization, but reported better young adult psychosocial adjustments.

“These findings indicate that the long-term psychosocial benefits of being out at school outweigh the negative impact of LGBT victimization,” the researchers wrote.

Further studies should include all forms of discriminatory behavior toward youth who disclose their sexuality in school, they added. – by Samantha Costa

Disclosure: Russell reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.