A study just released by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health finds that gay people living in communities entrenched with high levels of anti-gay bigotry, prejudice, and hate, are expected to die 12 years earlier than their peers living in more progressive and accepting environments.
“Shorter life expectancy of 12 years on average for LGB individuals in communities with high vs. low stigma,” a statement on the study reads.
“Our findings indicate that sexual minorities living in communities with higher levels of prejudice die sooner than sexual minorities living in low-prejudice communities, and that these effects are independent of established risk factors for mortality, including household income, education, gender, ethnicity, and age, as well as the average income and education level of residents in the communities where the respondents lived,” the study’s lead author, Mark Hatzenbuehler, PhD, assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia, said in a statement. “In fact, our results for prejudice were comparable to life expectancy differences that have been observed between individuals with and without a high school education.”
The study looked at data from 1988 to 2008.
“In order to examine the relationship between prejudice and mortality, the researchers constructed a measure capturing the average level of anti-gay prejudice in the communities where LGB individuals lived… This information on sexual orientation and community-level prejudice was then linked longitudinally to mortality data via the National Death Index, through 2008. Thus, the authors were able to examine whether mortality risk differed for LGB individuals who lived in communities that were characterized by high versus low levels of prejudice. By the end of the study, 92% of LGB respondents living in low-prejudice communities were still alive; in contrast, only 78% of the LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities were still alive.” [Bolding ours]
According to its website, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health is:
- Ranked one of top 5 schools of public health by U.S. News & World Reports
- Third largest recipient of NIH funding among schools of public health (based on most recent data, 2012)
Dr. Hatzenbuehler in 2011 also authored a study that found that teenagers, regardless of their sexual orientation, were more likely to attempt suicide if they lived in conservative environments than their peers who lived in more progressive environments.
Ironically, conservatives for decades have been touting faux-scientific claims that gay people die decades earlier than heterosexuals. Most recently, RNC Committeeman Dave Agema of Michigan has been criticized for pushing a website that has published preposterous lies, like the “median age of death of homosexuals is 42 (only 9% live past age 65).” It also calls gay people “filthy.” Are the anti-gay hate groups and those pushing anti-gay bigotry responsible for creating an environment that is literally killing LGB people? Possibly, since this study seems to say, “yes.”
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