Cyberbullying and LGBTQ Youth: A Deadly Combination

Brenda K. Wiederhold
2014 Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking  
P erhaps the group affected the most by cyberbullying are youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning their sexual identity. In 2010, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge after his college roommate and a hall mate posted online a secretly made video of Tyler and another man kissing, then urged friends and Twitter followers to check back later for a second, never-made video. 1 In the wake of this tragedy, Tyler's death
more » ... d a spotlight on cyberbullying and its impact on LGBTQ youth. Several studies agree that cyberbullying is more common in youth who do not identify as heterosexual, and it results in serious mental health consequences. Earlier in 2010, before Tyler's suicide, Iowa State University researchers published the results of an online survey of 444 junior high, high school, and college students, including 350 self-identified non-heterosexuals. Fully 54% of these youth reported being victims of cyberbullying in the 30 days prior to the survey. Among the LGBT respondents, 45% reported feeling depressed as a result of being cyberbullied, and more than a quarter had suicidal thoughts. 2 A larger study in 2012 analyzed the differences in prevalence rates of bullying between more than 20,000 nonheterosexual and heterosexual youth in grades 9-12 in the Boston metropolitan area. The study showed that the 1,200 LGBT youth in the sample were more than twice as likely as heterosexual youth to report cyberbullying. Regardless of sexual orientation, youth who experienced only cyberbullying were at higher risk of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, self-injury, and suicide attempt compared with those who had only experienced school-based bullying, with LGBT youth at a significantly higher risk for these outcomes. 3
doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.1521 pmid:25211134 fatcat:6itlv3pbfzfwdnvgppksq4kv34