TUCSON, Ariz. — LGBT adolescents who come out at school have higher self-esteem and lower levels of depression as young adults, compared to LGBT youth who don’t disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity at school, according to a new study led by University of Arizona researcher Stephen Russell.
Published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, it is the first-known study to document the benefits of being out during adolescence, despite the fact that teens may experience bullying when they openly identify as LGBT, the university announced in a press release.
Researchers examined data from the Family Acceptance Project, a research, intervention, education and policy initiative at San Francisco State University designed to prevent risk and promote well-being of LGBT children and adolescents.
They found in the project’s survey of 245 non-Latino white and Latino LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25, that respondents experienced victimization and bullying in high school because of their LGBT identity whether they came out or not.
However, those who were open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in high school reported higher self-esteem and life satisfaction as young adults than those who did not disclose, or who tried to conceal, their sexual orientation or gender identity from others at school. Those who came out at school also reported lower levels of depression as young adults. The results were the same across genders and ethnicities, researchers said.