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AAP Supports Access and Health Care for Sexual Minority Youth

6/24/2013 For Release: June 24, 2013
​​​​​​Appropriate and supportive health care is necessary for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP has published an updated policy statement, “Office-Based Care for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth,” and an accompanying technical report in the July 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online June 24). According to the policy statement, the majority of LGBTQ youth lead happy, healthy lives and grow up to be resilient and productive young adults. However, LGBTQ youth do experience significantly higher rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse, eating disorders, and STDs and HIV. Parents play a critical role as young adolescents develop their sexual identities, and pediatricians also have a role in helping sort through these feelings and behaviors. Parental reaction to a child “coming out” varies, but LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to consider suicide, especially when they are ostracized or rejected by their families. Bullying and victimization at school also increase depression and suicide rates. Previous studies of adolescents who are open about their LGBT sexual orientation show that 84 percent have been verbally harassed, 30 percent reported being punched, kicked, or physically injured, and 28 percent dropped out of school because of excessive harassment. Cyberbullying is a significant problem; 32 percent of all LGBT youth have reported homophobic/heterosexist bullying online. Supportive schools and home environments have been shown to protect sexual minority youth by reducing rates of risky behaviors. The AAP technical report also describes care for transgender individuals. According to the AAP, it can be difficult for transgender youth to find comprehensive medical and mental health services. Pediatricians should refer these patients to physicians who specialize in gender nonconformity. The policy authors conclude that just like all adolescents, LGBTQ youth should be assessed during a comprehensive psychosocial history for sexual behaviors and risks. Specific advice can then be given to reduce risky behaviors and promote a healthy lifestyle.



The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit



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