John M. Becker

New Study: Homophobia Kills. Literally.

Filed By John M. Becker | February 17, 2014 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: bigotry, biphobia, Columbia University, homophobia, homophobia kills, scientific study, stigma, studies

gay_bullying.jpgA new study by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health finds that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who reside in homophobic communities live a dozen fewer years than those living in communities with lower levels of anti-LGB stigma.

From a Columbia University press release:

The results of this study suggest a broadening of the consequences of prejudice to include premature death," noted the study's lead author, Mark Hatzenbuehler, PhD, assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences. The study is online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

"Our findings indicate that sexual minorities living in communities with higher levels of prejudice die sooner than sexual minorities living in low-prejudice communities, and that these effects are independent of established risk factors for mortality, including household income, education, gender, ethnicity, and age, as well as the average income and education level of residents in the communities where the respondents lived," said Dr. Hatzenbuehler. "In fact, our results for prejudice were comparable to life expectancy differences that have been observed between individuals with and without a high school education."

This study, which the university is billing as the first of its kind, examined data for the 20-year period between 1988 and 2008. More information about the study's methodology is after the jump.

The release continues:

In order to examine the relationship between prejudice and mortality, the researchers constructed a measure capturing the average level of anti-gay prejudice in the communities where LGB individuals lived, beginning in 1988, using data on prejudicial attitudes from the General Social Survey, one of the primary sources of social indicator data in the social sciences. This information on sexual orientation and community-level prejudice was then linked longitudinally to mortality data via the National Death Index, through 2008. Thus, the authors were able to examine whether mortality risk differed for LGB individuals who lived in communities that were characterized by high versus low levels of prejudice. By the end of the study, 92% of LGB respondents living in low-prejudice communities were still alive; in contrast, only 78% of the LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities were still alive.

Put another way, this new study found that homophobia kills -- literally.

Authors also found that the suicide rates differed dramatically between more-homophobic and less-homophobic communities: "LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities died of suicide on average at age 37.5, compared to age 55.7 for those living in low-prejudice communities, a striking 18-year difference." And homicide rates were markedly higher too -- LGB people in unfriendly communities are more than three times more likely to be killed than in friendly communities.

As David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement notes, conservatives have for years pushed the disgustingly hateful myth that homosexuality has negative health consequences and that gay men, on average, live only half as long as their straight counterparts.

Ironically, this new study suggests that it's actually their bigotry that's killing us.

The study is available online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

h/t: David Badash

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