TOBY LONGHURST
A new report by Queensland LGBT youth services group Open Doors has revealed that 37 percent of young LGBT people had attempted suicide in the past twelve months, while 82 percent had considered suicide in the same period.

The Open Doors Action Research Report 2008 was conducted as an anonymous online survey for young LGBT people aged 12-20. Completed by 164 participants, the survey collected information on health and wellbeing, demographics, characteristics and housing.

Unsurprisingly, the report indicated that many young LGBT people experienced bullying at school. Eighty-one percent of respondents claim that they were bullied at school, but perhaps the more concerning statistic is that 88 percent of the bullied students reported that the school took no action to stop the bullying.

Open Doors coordinator Lisa Thorpey said she believed schools must address homophobic bullying and undergo training so they will be better equipped to address issues as they occur.

-œSchool principals should be directed by both the government and their respective unions and peak bodies to provide mandatory training to teachers and education support staff once a year as part of their staff development time on how to address all types of bullying with content that includes specific homophobic bullying tactics and issues, she said.

Over one-third (34 percent) of young LGBT people reported sexual abuse, which is substantially higher than the generally reported 25 percent of young women and 17 percent of young men.

The rates of drug and alcohol consumption were also alarmingly high. Eighty-nine percent of respondents reported drinking alcohol, while 29 percent reported smoking marijuana. High rates of mental health diagnoses (34 percent) were also reported.

Thorpey called upon the LGBT community to show its support by acting as positive role models for young LGBT people.

-œThere are currently a number of strategies in place targeting young people’s binge drinking habits generally. It remains to be seen how successful these campaigns are.

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