White Paper: A Healthy Chicago for LGBT Youth
As an extension of the Healthy Chicago Initiative, The IMPACT Program at Northwestern University has created a new report to document the health disparities of Chicago’s LGBT youth. Utilizing data from two different studies, Project Q2 and the Chicago YRBS, this report is able to provide a comprehensive picture of a broad range of health disparities.
The report follows the framework of the Healthy Chicago Initiative and focuses on the following areas:
- mental health
- physical health and disordered eating
- sexual health
- substance use
- violence prevention.
Issues such as suicide, HIV/AIDS, tobacco and alcohol use, dating violence, and victimization are examined in the paper.
Results show that Chicago LGBT youth report health disparities across all domains. In terms of mental health, LGBT youth were more likely to report depression and depressive symptoms, previous suicide attempts, and non-suicidal self-injury. In terms of physical health, LGBT youth were not more likely to be obese, but they were more likely to be underweight and to report vomiting to lose weight. In terms of sexual health, LGBT youth were more likely to report sex risk behaviors, a deficit in HIV education, and in female-born youth, were more likely to report pregnancy. In terms of substance use, LGBT youth were more likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. And finally, LGBT youth were more likely to report experiences of sexual violence and victimization. Taken together, these results indicate health disparities for Chicago LGBT youth are strong and pervasive. Due to the presence of these disparities at such a young age, they are likely to influence to health and well-being of LGBT Chicagoans throughout their lifespans.
This report concludes by highlighting the role of support in buffering many of these outcomes. Additionally, recommendations for addressing each of these disparities have been inserted throughout the document.