Gay students are also more than twice as likely to report having had sexual intercourse before age 13 -- that is, to be sexually abused as children. They are three times as likely to report being the victims of dating violence, and nearly four times as likely to report forced sexual contact. A majority of LGBT teens in Massachusetts reported using illegal drugs in the past month. (Perhaps most oddly, gay teens are also three times as likely as nongay teens to report either becoming pregnant or getting someone else pregnant.)
Forced sex, childhood sexual abuse, dating violence, early unwed pregnancy, substance abuse -- could these be a more important factor in the increased suicide risk of LGBT teens than anything people like me ever said?
The deeper you look, the more you see kids who are generally unprotected in deeply tragic ways that make it hard to believe -- if you are really focusing on these kids' well-being -- that gay marriage is the answer.
And that's exactly what the Youth Risk Behavior data also show: In 2001, gay teens in Massachussetts were almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide (31 percent vs. 8 percent). In 2007 -- after four years of legalized gay marriage in that state -- gay teens were still about four times more likely to attempt suicide than nongay teens (29 percent vs. 6 percent).
Whether you are looking at their faces or looking at the statistics, one thing is clear: These kids need help, real help. They should not become a mere rhetorical strategy, a plaything in our adult battles.
Each of these teens is a child of God. And each one deserves better from all of us that becoming a "teachable moment" in someone else's culture war.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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