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Teens say growing up gay is tough, but easier in California

June 7, 2012 |  5:51 pm

A groundbreaking new report about thousands of gay and lesbian teenagers details the challenges of growing up gay in America. But the same survey of more than 10,000 gay teens aged 13 to 17 shows that in many regards, life is a little easier if they happen to live in California.

The survey, “Growing up LGBT in America,” by the Human Rights Campaign, shows that gay and lesbian teens across the U.S. are less likely to be happy and more likely to say they “don’t fit in” than heterosexual teens.

But on both those measures, and others, it may be somewhat easier to be a gay kid in California than in some other parts of the country.

For example, four in 10 gay and lesbian teenagers in California reported being happy, up slightly from the 37% nationwide who told researchers they were happy. And while 47% of gay teens across the country said they feel as if they “don’t fit in” with their community, that was true of a smaller percentage of gay teens in California, with 39% expressing that view.

And 62% of LGBT teens in California said their communities were accepting of gays, compared with 49% of gay teens nationwide. As for straight teens, 59% of those surveyed nationwide rated their communities accepting of LGBT people.

Gay teens in California also were more likely than those nationwide to say that their state government, and their local governments too, were LGBT-accepting.

The survey was released Thursday at a press conference at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center by Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was in attendance.

In the survey, gay and straight teens alike expressed overwhelming optimism about their futures, with most saying they expect to have a good job, get married to someone they love, raise children and be happy. But there were some striking differences between the two groups.

More than 9 in 10 heterosexual teens and 83% of gay teens said they expected to be happy in the future. But more than half of the gay youths, compared with 31% of those who are not gay, said they would have to move away from their communities to achieve that happiness.


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