Ensuring Safe Schools for Our Patients

As future physicians, our prime responsibilities are to advocate on behalf of our patients, to ensure the best possible health care outcomes, and to safe guard the well-being of individuals and communities. Yet youth, and particulary lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, remain especially vulnerable to unique pressures that adversely affect their well-being. Recent research by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) highlights the adversities LGBT youth face in their daily lives at home, at church, and at school and underscores the numerous disparities associated with being LGB or T. 

The HRC report does not tell us anything we did not already know. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that LGBT youth are shockingly underserved and face health risks on every front. When compared to their straight peers, LGBT youth are:

  • 5 times more likely to have been injured in a physical fight.
  • 3 times more likely to have experienced dating violence.
  • 3 times more likely to have been raped.
  • 4 times more likely to have missed school because they feared for their safety.
  • 4 times more likely to have attempted suicide.
  • 5-7 times more likely to have used heavy drugs.

In essence, the research shows an entire generation of LGBT youth being treated as if they do not matter.

Thankfully, research shows that programs to create safe spaces for LGBT youth can be a critical intervention. Anti-bullying and safe school programs that explicitly seek to meet the needs of LGBT young people can combat homophobia and transphobia and lead to much better health, social and educational outcomes. We know that as physicians-in-training, you are doing your part to protect your future patients. Now, let us make sure the United States Congress does the same.

Contact Congress today. Ask your representatives to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act. As politicians wait to pass these two pieces of critical legislation, our youth across the U.S. are paying the price.