That’s how a national public health official described new data that show gay, lesbian or bisexual high school students across the United States are at far greater risk for bullying than their straight peers.
The heartbreak is happening in Colorado as well.
New findings from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey reveal that more than 36 percent of gay, lesbian or bisexual students report having been bullied at school, roughly twice the 18.2 percent of heterosexual students who said they were bullied on school property.
The difference extends to cyberbullying, with 29 percent of gay, lesbian or bisexual students saying they have been electronically bullied, more than double the 13.1 percent rate of cyberbullying for straight students.
Multiracial students have the highest rate of being bullying because someone thought they were gay, lesbian or bisexual at 13.8 percent, followed by white students at 9.6 percent and Hispanic students at 6.6 percent.
The survey also found that teen girls are more likely to be bullied than teen boys. Nearly one of four girls (23.9 percent) said they were bullied at high school compared with 16.4 percent of boys. The same pattern holds true for cyberbullying, with 20.7 percent of girls saying they have been electronically bullied compared with 9.5 percent of boys.
When it comes being bullied because of race/ethnicity, Asian students reported the highest level of bullying at 33.7 percent, more than triple the rate of white students who said they were bullied (10.5 percent.)
And there are variations across Colorado when it comes to bullying.
High school students in the health statistics region (HSR) of Lake, Chaffee, Fremont and Custer counties (HSR 13) in central Colorado reported the highest rate of bullying at 28.1 percent and cyberbullying at 23.2 percent.
This is also the area where teens are most likely to report being bullied by someone who thought they were gay, lesbian or bisexual, with 14.1 percent saying this had happened to them. In the northeastern Colorado counties of Sedgwick, Phillips, Yuma, Washington, Logan and Morgan counties (HSR 1), 12.4 percent reported being bullied for this reason, the second highest rate.
The problem of bullying is pervasive, with 11 HSRs, of the 17 with data about cyberbullying, above the state average of 15.1 percent. Denver County, the state’s biggest metro school district, is in the lowest tier for bullying rates.