Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ+)

LGBTQ FlagPeople who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ+) come from all walks of life, encompassing all races and ethnicities, religions, and social classes. It is estimated that approximately 3% of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ+. Research has shown that members of the LGBTQ+ community face an increased risk for a number of physical and mental health threats when compared to their heterosexual peers. Some of the increased risk has been attributed to sexual behavior, but others are linked to social and structural inequities, such as stigma, discrimination, and the denial of civil and human rights. Indeed, discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals has been associated with high rates of mental health disorders, substance use, and suicide. Further, LGBTQ+ youth experience higher rates of violence, victimization, and homelessness.

Research has also found disparities in behavioral health care for LGBTQ+ individuals. Studies have suggested that barriers to treatment services often include discrimination, provider hostility and insensitivity, strict binary gender (male/female) segregation within programs, and lack of acceptance in gender-appropriate recovery groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the perspectives and needs of LGBTQ+ people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve overall health and eliminate health disparities.  

Parents of transgender kids can do a lot to support their children. Check out this video of parent-led affirmations for their transgender children:


Research concerning LGBTQ+ individuals

In 2016, we published a special section, "Promoting Health and Well-Being of Transgender Individuals," in our journal. Our Spotlight provides the abstracts of those commentaries, along with abstracts of other LGBTQ+-specific articles Research on LGBTQpublished in AJO since 2010. Note that one of the articles from the special section, entitled "Culturally Competent Evidence-Based Behavioral Health Services for the Transgender Community: Progress and Challenges," is available open access. 

Want to learn more?

What can you do? 

  • Become informed on LGBTQ+ issues
  • Respect the terminology LGBTQ+ persons use to describe their identities
  • Challenge anti-LGBTQ+ remarks or jokes and speak out against bullying
  • Organize community groups to develop and implement a shared vision of a supportive, respectful community
  • Join the Human Rights Campaign in its effort to promote full equality to the LGBTQ+ community
  • Advocate for nondiscriminatory laws, policies, and practices