Being young, disabled and LGBT


(Editor’s Note: This blog was written especially for the Humanity Project by Alex Diaz-Granados, an activist who lives with cerebral palsy. Through his work with Cerebral Palsy Guidance, he works to bring awareness to issues related to bullying and LGBT rights.)

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) young people face a greater risk of being bullied, as do children with disabilities like cerebral palsy. According to surveys, as many as 81 percent of LGBT students have been bullied, while the numbers for disabled children are as high as 60 percent. For children and young adults with cerebral palsy and who identify or are perceived as LGBT, bullying is a real concern.

How Bullies Target Victims

Bullying refers to persistent, unwanted harassment or intimidation. There is typically a power imbalance between the bully and the victim, with the bully using greater size and strength, or some other factor to intimidate a victim repeatedly. Bullies tend to target their peers who seem powerless, unable or unwilling to fight back as well as those who seem different.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects muscles and movement. For this reason, children with the condition do appear different. They move differently and some may even be unable to walk. Children who identify as LGBT are also perceived as different and for someone living with cerebral palsy and identifying as LGBT, the differences and weaknesses may be doubled in the eyes of a bully.

The Impacts of Bullying

Being disabled and LGBT puts a child in a position of being vulnerable to bullying and it is an issue that needs to be taken seriously because of the consequences. Students who are bullied suffer academically. They miss more school, get lower grades and are more likely to drop out before graduating. They are also less likely to be included in activities and social events.

Victims of bullying are vulnerable to mental health consequences. They are more likely to experience depression, more likely to have attempted suicide. For those bullying victims who have cerebral palsy and are LGBT, the consequences may be even more severe. These children may feel that they have even less power and fewer options for support.

Support for Disabled LGBT Students

Social support for these children is crucial because it provides a network that offers a safe place, others who share the same challenges and, most importantly, friends. Children of all abilities, gender identities and sexuality benefit from strong support from friends and others. This support gives a child confidence, resilience and strength. For those children living with disabilities and identifying as LGBT, there are numerous support groups. Adults who care for these children should help them and encourage them to seek out these groups to make friends, to build strong social bonds, and to cope with the victimization of bullying.

Support is available through The Humanity Project’s website for socially isolated teens is another valuable resource at