We are weeks away from Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Pride is the month after. As we set up to celebrate the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as well as the LGBTQIA community, The Trevor Project has released an eye-opening report that is more relevant now than ever as violence and discrimination against Asians and Asian Americanas continues to increase.
The new study released today found that more than half of AAPI LGBTQ youth experienced discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year — and those who did reported higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year.
The Trevor Project is he world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ young people. This report is one of the first to analyze the mental health outcomes among youth who are both AAPI and LGBTQ — and provides findings specific to six major AAPI origin groups: Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese LGBTQ youth. This study helps put shine on the queer AAPI community and also is a marker that reiterates the need for positive and authentic portrayals of Asians in the LGBTQIA community.
Key findings from the study include:
40% of AAPI LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, including 49% of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian youth, 47% of Korean youth, 41% of Filipino youth, 39% of Indian youth, 31% of Vietnamese youth, and 29% of Chinese youth.
16% of AAPI LGBTQ youth attempted suicide in the past year, including 20% of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian youth, 18% of Korean youth, 14% of Vietnamese youth, 13% of Filipino youth, 9% of Chinese youth, and 8% of Indian youth.
41% of AAPI LGBTQ youth were not out to at least one parent about their sexual orientation — compared to 29% of the overall sample of LGBTQ youth — including 60% of Vietnamese youth, 55% of Indian youth, 49% of Chinese youth, 43% of Filipino youth, 38% of Korean youth, and 34% of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian youth.
AAPI transgender and nonbinary youth reported significantly higher rates of suicide risk compared to cisgender AAPI LGBQ youth, half of whom seriously considering suicide and more than 1 in 5 reporting a suicide attempt in the past year.
Mental health outcomes for AAPI LGBTQ youth were unique across ethnic identities: Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian LGBTQ youth were more out to others about their sexual orientation and reported higher rates of discrimination and physical harm based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and poorer mental health indicators compared to the other AAPI ethnicities analyzed in the report.
“These findings shine a light on the unique mental health outcomes and suicide risk of AAPI LGBTQ youth — a demographic that has largely been overlooked by the research world,” said Myeshia Price Senior Research Scientist at The Trevor Project. “This research points to the unmistakable need to invest in mental health resources and suicide prevention efforts for AAPI LGBTQ youth that are culturally salient, reflective of their diverse identities, and equip parents, other family members, and communities to better support them.”
These data underscore the unique forms of victimization faced by AAPI LGBTQ youth that may place them at increased risk for suicide. This report finds that more than half of AAPI LGBTQ youth (54%) reported discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year and 1 in 10 reported discrimination based on their immigration status (10%) — these rates were nearly double that of the overall sample of LGBTQ youth. In both cases, AAPI LGBTQ youth who experienced race-based discrimination (18% vs. 12%) or immigration-based discrimination (26% vs. 14%) reported significantly higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not.
These data also illustrate protective factors unique to AAPI LGBTQ youth, which may play an important role in uplifting their wellbeing and preventing suicide. Strong connectivity to one’s cultural background was found to be one such protective factor. AAPI LGBTQ youth who said their race/ethnicity was a very important part of who they are reported nearly half the rate of attempting suicide in the past year (12%) compared to those who said it was not important to them at all (23%). Additionally, AAPI LGBTQ youth who have supportive family and friends and access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces reported lower rates of attempting suicide.
This report was created using data from a national sample of nearly 3,600 AAPI LGBTQ youth ages 13–24 who participated in The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health.