Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are at heightened risk for bullying and other forms of in-school victimization. Anti-bullying laws are a potential policy mechanism for addressing this issue, yet there has been little investigation of the impact of such policies for this population using generalizable samples or quasi-experimental designs. The current study explores whether the presence of state anti-bullying laws predicts lower likelihood of bullying victimization, fear-based absenteeism, in-school threats or injury with a weapon, and suicidality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning high school students in the United States. Based on Youth Risk Behavior Survey data across 22 states from 2005-2015, coupled with data about the presence of general and enumerated anti-bullying laws that include sexual orientation as a protected class, this study analyzes this topic using a quasi-experimental design (linear difference-in-difference models). The results indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth (particularly boys aged 15 or younger) experienced less bullying victimization in states with general or enumerated anti-bullying laws. There was modest evidence of a reduction in fear-based absenteeism among boys in states with such laws. However, there was little evidence of a relationship between such policies and in-school threats or injuries or suicidality. Further, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning girls’ likelihood of victimization, absenteeism, or suicidality was generally not related to the presence of anti-bullying laws. The results suggest that general and enumerated anti-bullying laws may help reduce bullying victimization for gay, bisexual, and questioning boys.
Seelman, Kristie L. and Walker, Mary Beth, "Do Anti-Bullying Laws Reduce In-School Victimization, Fear-based Absenteeism, and Suicidality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Youth?" (2018). Social Work Faculty Publications. 84.
Available for download on Friday, August 16, 2019