Individuals who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning (LGBTQ)


Sponsor: National LGBT Health Education Center.


  •  Fairness West Virginia: Fairness WV is the statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to fair treatment and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender West Virginians. Its mission is to ensure LGBT people can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, and in the community– including in our schools.


  • National research suggests approximately 40% of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. (T.A. Partnership for Child & Family Mental Health, 2013)
  • West Virginia has collected little data on this population, and has yet to address this issue effectively, primarily due to the lack of information about LGBTQ health needs and LGBTQ-specific training for primary and behavioral health care providers. (BBHHF, 2013)
  • Nationally, 50% of gay teens experience a negative reaction from their parents when they come out.  According to BBHHF, West Virginia ranks above the national average in religiosity (Pew Research Center 2009), which correlates negatively with attitudes toward the LGBTQ population (Winter 2011).  For this reason, many parents of LGBTQ youth in West Virginia have difficulty accepting their child’s sexual orientation and 26% are kicked out of their home (Battle 2002).
  • LGBTQ young adults who experience high levels of rejection are more than three times as likely to use illegal drugs, almost six times as likely to have high levels of depression, and more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011).
  • Youth who are LGBTQI2-S frequently encounter numerous challenges and may feel isolated, alienated, depressed, and fearful as they attempt to navigate their emerging awareness of their sexual and/or gender identity.
  • Youth who are LGBTQI2-S are at risk for a number of negative experiences and outcomes associated with how others react to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Compared with other youth, youth who are LGBTQI2-S are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide.
  • They are more likely than their peers to suffer from depression and use or abuse substances.
  • Youth who are LGBTQI2-S may also be more likely to experience harassment from other youth and significant adults in their lives, and to be subjected to verbal, sexual, and physical abuse and other forms of trauma.
  • They are more likely to drop out of school and become homeless.
  • Bullying and rejection by peers and family members due to a youth’s LGBTQI2-S identity may exacerbate mental health challenges.


from 2013 National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care: Final Report (CLAS)

  •  Lesbian: Females who are emotionally and sexually attracted to, and may partner with, females only.
  • Gay: Males who are emotionally and sexually attracted to, and may partner with, males only. “Gay” is also an overarching term used to refer to a broad array of sexual orientation identities other than heterosexual.
  • Bisexual: Individuals who are emotionally and sexually attracted to, and may partner with, both males and females.
  • Transgender: Individuals who express a gender identity different from their birth-assigned gender.
  • Questioning: Individuals who are uncertain about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Intersex:  Individuals with medically defined biological attributes that are not exclusively male or female; frequently “assigned” a gender at birth, which may differ from their gender identity later in life.
  • Two-Spirit  (2-S)” A culture-specific general identity for Native Americans (American Indians and Alaska Natives) with homosexual or transgendered identities. Traditionally a role-based definition, two-spirit individuals are perceived to bridge different sectors of society (e.g., the male-female dichotomy, and the Spirit and natural worlds).