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Study: It Does Get Better for Gay Teens

It Gets Better Project

It turns out that it actually does get better. 

Although boys and young gay men have it worse off than their lesbian peers, a seven-year study concludes that bullying over sexuality does diminish over time. Still, gay and lesbian boys and girls were twice as likely than their straight classmates to report being bullied.

More than 4,000 teens were questioned yearly through 2010, until they were 19 and 20 years old, to determine how rates of bullying change as adolescents grow older, and what effect bullying has on their emotional distress. 

Plus: Study: Bullying Causes Kids to Age Faster

The study, “Developmental Trends in Peer Victimization and Emotional Distress in LGB and Heterosexual Youth,” in the March 2013 Pediatrics, found that on average, bullying of lesbian and gay youth declined significantly as they left high school. More than half (57 percent) of lesbian or bisexual girls reported being bullied at age 13 or 14, compared to 6 percent at age 20 or 21. Among boys, the bullying declined from 52 percent to 9 percent over the same time period.

Prompted by a series of suicides of young gays, columnist Dan Savage Launched the "It Gets Better" video project in 2010, to encourage bullied gay teens. The positive message, which includes videos from politicians and celebrities, is borne out by this study's findings.

The study was conducted in England, although researchers said the same results would likely be found in the US as well. 

"Bullying tends to decline with age regardless of sexual orientation and gender," co-author Joseph Robinson, a researcher and assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign told the Associated Press. "In absolute terms, this would suggest that yes, it gets better."