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LGBTQ study finds it really does get better

It gets better, LGBTQ youth.

Really, it does. The national rallying cry of support for LGBTQ youth — which is especially pertinent on April 15, the national Day of Silence against anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment — is not just something celebrities and other famous people say to make the world feel good. It's something that's been backed by empirical research.

The study, published in March 2015 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, sampled 231 LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) people initially aged 16 to 20 and followed them over the course of 3.5 years. It found that psychological distress and victimization decreased from adolescence to early adulthood.

Participants rated the amount of victimization, or bullying, they faced because of their sexual identity over the previous six months on a scale of zero to three. At age 16, the average measure of victimization was 0.38. At age 24, it was cut by more than half, to 0.14.

The findings varied among different participants. Male, transgender, black, and multiracial, Asian, and Native American youth in particular were at greater risk for victimization overall.

Researchers say they believe this study is the first longitudinal analysis into this topic. In the paper, they caution that further study into the issue is needed — particularly into the experiences of younger children and older adults. The study also concentrated on the Chicago area, so results may differ in other parts of the country and world.

The study began in part as a reaction to the It Gets Better Project, which was founded in 2010 in response to increased attention on suicide and bullying among LGBT youth. The project hosts tens of thousands of videos online that convey an optimistic message about the future and growing up to LGBTQ youth. It's attracted several high-profile participants, including President Barack Obama.

Hat tip to Reuters for first covering the study.

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