S.F. Dating: Violence Higher for LGBT Teens

Categories: Health, LGBT
It needs to get better
A new survey of San Francisco Unified School District teens says gay middle-school boys were more than four times as likely to report being assaulted by their intimate partners than straight boys were. Gay middle school girls, meanwhile, were three times as likely as straight girls to report being assaulted by someone they were dating.

The violence wasn't just a male thing: San Francisco lesbian teens are three times more likely to beat up their girlfriends than straight boys are.

"This is not surprising at all, but just an indication of the realities they're dealing with," says Morgan Bassichis, organizing director at Communities United Against Violence, a local nonprofit.

While San Francisco may be more supportive of gay kids than other cities, teens attracted to members of the same sex can still feel isolated. And they might not feel they have the support of family, friends, teachers, or school counselors.

"When people have more support in their lives, they can choose relationships that feel affirming," Bassichis adds. "When we don't have other support, it can feel like we have no other options."

The "Comprehensive Report on Family Violence in San Francisco 2010" cites the Centers for
Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Survey
, which obtained 15,777 responses from San Francisco Unified School District students. Results showed that dating is far more dangerous for gay, lesbian, and bisexual teenagers. The survey was taken during the 2008-2009 school year.

Of gay middle school boys, 34 percent said they'd been slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriends during the previous 12 months. Of straight boys, 8 percent had been assaulted by girlfriends.

Of middle school girls, 5 percent said they'd been assaulted by a boyfriend, while 16 percent said they'd been assaulted by the person they were dating. For high school kids, the disparity was slightly less stark. Twenty-seven percent of gay and bisexual boys reported being assaulted, while 8 percent of straight boys did. Of lesbian and bisexual girls, 18 percent reported being assaulted, while the figure was 6 percent of heterosexual girls.

Chai Jindasurat, director of organization and education at Network La Red, which advocates against partner abuse in Boston, Mass., says abusers might have all sorts of tools to keep their gay, lesbian, or bisexual victims quiet.

"There's the threat of outing on Facebook, or to their parents who might not be supportive, or putting them in homophobic situations where they may be subject to violence," he says.

If "It Gets Better" means that domestic violence against gays drops from 34 percent to 27 percent, San Francisco still has a lot of work to do helping gay teens.

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