Every other year, the Vermont Department of Health sponsors the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The YRBS “measures the prevalence of behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disease, and injury among youth. The survey is part of a larger effort to help communities increase the “resiliency” of young people by reducing high risk behaviors and promoting healthy behaviors. The statewide report is based on student responses from almost every high school and middle school in the state, and is weighted to reflect all public school students in six through twelfth grades.’
The YRBS is the strongest assessment tool that Outright has to track harmful behaviors and some positive behaviors among Vermont queer youth and their heterosexual peers.It is important to note that until 2005, students were not able to identify their sexual orientation on the survey (all that was asked was same-sex behavior). In that same year, questions about bullying were introduced. As of the 2015 survey, gender is still not asked in an inclusive way – leaving out transgender students and other gender non-conforming youth. Changing this question has to come from the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) who oversees the creation of the bulk of the survey for all states.
Key findings from the 2015 YRBS include:
- LGB youth are 2½x more likely (40% vs 16%) to have been bullied in the last 30 days than their heterosexual peers
- LGB youth are 6x more likely (24% vs 4%) to have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime than their heterosexualpeers
- LGB youth are more than 4x more likely (18% vs 4%) to have skipped school in the last 30 days because of feeling unsafe than their heterosexual peers
- LGB youth are 6x more likely (25% vs 4%) to have attempted suicide in the last 12 months than their heterosexual peers
Please visit the Vermont Department of Health website for up to date information on the 2015 YRBS.