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Last night’s episode of Glee debuted a new PSA by The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth, featuring Daniel Radcliffe.  In addition, the show tackled gay bullying and its effects on the victims.  David McFarland, Interim Executive Director and CEO of the Trevor Project mentions the importance of featuring this life-saving PSA on primetime TV stating,

The opportunity to reach millions of LGBTQ youth, their families and friends during a show like ‘Glee‘ with a message to reinforce that it is okay to reach out for help when you need it can truly help save lives.

This is a truly important and commendable endeavor for those at Glee and Daniel Radcliffe who reached millions of youth last night.  Mainstream media has a lot of influence in the audience’s attitudes and beliefs making it a useful tool for advancing public health initiatives.  LGBTQ youth are at an increased risk of violence as a result of harassment and homophobia, taking a serious toll on their mental health. According to the CDC, a 2009 survey of LGBTQ youth in middle and high schools found

  • 8 of 10 students had been verbally abused in school
  • 4 of 10 had been physically harassed at school
  • 6 of 10 felt unsafe at school
  • 1 of 5 had been a victim of physical assault at school

As a result, they are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicidal attempts, and actual suicide.  LGBQ youth who are victims of bullying are more likely to report high levels of substance abuse, unexcused absence from school, and depression.  A national study has found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers.

There is an urgent need to address homophobia and bullying among our youth.  These issues need policies and practices to promote the health and safety of all youth at the school, local, and national level.  Mentors, teachers, peers, and parents also have a role to play by learning of warning signs and knowing resources.