Inclusive anti-bullying policies and reduced risk of suicide attempts in lesbian and gay youth

J Adolesc Health. 2013 Jul;53(1 Suppl):S21-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.08.010.


Purpose: To evaluate whether anti-bullying policies that are inclusive of sexual orientation are associated with a reduced prevalence of suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths.

Methods: A total of 31,852 11th-grade public school students (1,413 lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals; 4.4%) in Oregon completed the Oregon Healthy Teens survey in 2006-2008. The independent variable was the proportion of school districts in the 34 counties participating in the Oregon Healthy Teens survey that adopted anti-bullying policies inclusive of sexual orientation. The outcome measure was any self-reported suicide attempt in the past 12 months. We stratified results by sexual orientation.

Results: Lesbian and gay youths living in counties with fewer school districts with inclusive anti-bullying policies were 2.25 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.13-4.49) more likely to have attempted suicide in the past year compared with those living in counties where more districts had these policies. Inclusive anti-bullying policies were significantly associated with a reduced risk for suicide attempts among lesbian and gay youths, even after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics (sex, race/ethnicity) and exposure to peer victimization (odds ratio, .18; 95% CI, .03-.92). In contrast, anti-bullying policies that did not include sexual orientation were not associated with lower suicide attempts among lesbian and gay youths (odds ratio, .38; 95% CI, .02-7.33).

Conclusions: Inclusive anti-bullying policies may exert protective effects for the mental health of lesbian and gay youths, including reducing their risk for suicide attempts.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bullying* / psychology
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oregon / epidemiology
  • Public Policy
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools / organization & administration*
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data