How Does Homophobia Impact Mental Health?
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How Does Homophobia Impact Mental Health?

Homophobia is a persistent issue in today’s world. In addition to perpetuating discrimination, homophobia—which is defined as an unreasonable fear, hostility, or prejudice toward people who have same-sex attractions—has a very negative impact on mental health.


It is essential to understand how homophobia and mental health interact to promote acceptance, empathy, and a more inclusive society. Let’s examine the causes, consequences, and mutual impacts of homophobia on people and society.



Table Of Contents

Facts On Homophobia And Mental Health

What Effects Does Homophobia Have On People?

What Effects Does Homophobia Have On Someone’s Mental Health?

Are Those Who Are Homophobic Hurt By Their Homophobia?

How Does LGBTQ+ Acceptance Impact Mental Health Disparities?

The Bottom Line





Facts On Homophobia And Mental Health


Religious convictions, cultural customs, and societal conventions all have a strong hold on homophobia. A study by the UCLA Williams Institute found that approximately 4.5% of Americans identify as LGBT (Williams Institute, UCLA, 2019). Nonetheless, homophobia continues to be pervasive and negatively affects people’s mental health in a variety of demographic contexts.


Being the target of discrimination, harassment, or violence because of one’s gender identity or sexual orientation can have a serious negative effect on a person’s relationships, career, and general well-being.





What Effects Does Homophobia Have On People?


Homophobia is harmful to everyone in society but especially the LGBTQ+ community. It fosters an atmosphere in which people feel forced to conceal who they really are, which adds to a mentality of prejudice, fear, and secrecy. Rejection, bullying, and violence are common experiences for LGBTQ+ people, which can cause emotional anguish and a lowered sense of self-worth (Wilson & Cariola, 2020).


The statistics show that there is a concerning amount of prejudice against LGBTQ+ people. According to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a majority of LGBTQ+ students—more than 80%—felt unsafe in schools because of their sexual orientation (GLSEN, 2021). Furthermore, over 40% of transgender individuals reported having attempted suicide, highlighting the negative effects of discrimination in society (Williams Institute, UCLA, 2023).



Homophobia Article


What Effects Does Homophobia Have On Someone’s Mental Health?


Homophobia has grave and far-reaching effects on mental health. LGBTQ+ people who experience prejudice frequently have greater rates of anxiety, sadness, and suicidal thoughts. Compared to their peers, young people who identify as LGBTQ+ have a suicide attempt rate that is more than four times higher (Johns et al., 2019, 2020).


Over 1.8 million young people in the United States (The Trevor Project, 2019) who identify as LGBTQ+ and are between the ages of 13 and 24 consider suicide every year, according to The Trevor Project. Unbelievably, among this group, there is at least one attempt at suicide every 45 seconds (The Trevor Project, 2021).


Mental health issues are made worse by internalized homophobia, which occurs when someone begins to apply society’s biases or prejudices to themself. Isolation, self-loathing, and an unwillingness to ask for help might result from the fear of being rejected or encountering discrimination.


The consequences for mental health are apparent in the LGBTQ+ population, where there are increased instances of substance misuse, self-harm, and general psychological suffering (Ventriglio et al., 2021).





Are Those Who Are Homophobic Hurt By Their Homophobia?


People who hold homophobic attitudes may suffer psychologically as a result of their harmful views. When faced with the growing acceptance of different sexual orientations in society, people who harbor homophobic beliefs may experience cognitive dissonance when it comes to their actions and their beliefs. Homophobia frequently results from ignorance, fear, low self-esteem or ingrained biases.


Homophobes become stuck in inflexible thought and behavior patterns, which makes it difficult for them to have close relationships with other people of the same sex. People who uphold homophobic views could struggle with inner conflicts as their convictions collide with a more accepting and tolerant world. Individuals who hold homophobic beliefs are more likely to suffer from anxiety and sadness, which highlights the psychological cost of upholding discriminatory beliefs (Ventriglio et al., 2021).





How Does LGBTQ+ Acceptance Impact Mental Health Disparities?


One of the most important steps in eradicating the inequities in mental health created by homophobia is to embrace acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. People feel safer and more supported in communities that value individuality and foster inclusivity, and this has a good impact on mental health outcomes.


The mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals is frequently better in nations and areas with more progressive LGBTQ+ laws. The positive effects of societal acceptance are shown by a study that was published in the Journal of School Nursing that found that states in the United States with policies supporting LGBTQ+ rights have reduced rates of high school students attempting suicide (Ancheta et al., 2021).


The implementation of inclusive policies, anti-discrimination laws, and educational programs is vital in fostering an environment that encourages acceptance and understanding, hence mitigating the stigma associated with varied sexual orientations. In addition to giving LGBTQ+ people a sense of community, an inclusive culture also improves mental health overall by encouraging compassion and understanding.





The Bottom Line


The impacts of homophobia on mental health are complex and call for coordinated action to overcome. Society can advance towards greater acceptance and tolerance by knowing the statistics, understanding the effects on LGBTQ+ individuals, and realizing the reciprocal harm imposed on those who maintain homophobic attitudes.


Accepting the LGBTQ+ community is not only a step toward equality; it is also a vital step toward promoting mental health for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. Homophobia’s effects on targeted individuals are widely discussed, but it’s crucial to acknowledge the potential harm it can cause to those who hold these beliefs. Love, empathy and understanding are necessary in creating a world in which all of us can thrive and come as we are.





Suicide Resources and Hotlines

988 Lifeline provides 24/7 confidential support  988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 (24hrs/free)

Crisis Text Line

International Association for Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education









Ancheta, A. J., Bruzzese, J.-M., & Hughes, T. L. (2021). The Impact of Positive School Climate on Suicidality and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Adolescents: A Systematic Review. The Journal of School Nursing : The Official Publication of the National Association of School Nurses, 37(2), 75–86.


GLSEN. (2021). The 2021 National School Climate Survey.


Johns, M. M., Lowry, R., Andrzejewski, J., Barrios, L. C., Demissie, Z., McManus, T., Rasberry, C. N., Robin, L., & Underwood, J. M. (2019). Transgender Identity and Experiences of Violence Victimization, Substance Use, Suicide Risk, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students—19 States and Large Urban School Districts, 2017. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(3), 67–71.


Johns, M. M., Lowry, R., Haderxhanaj, L. T., Rasberry, C. N., Robin, L., Scales, L., Stone, D., & Suarez, N. A. (2020). Trends in Violence Victimization and Suicide Risk by Sexual Identity Among High School Students—Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2015-2019. MMWR Supplements, 69(1), 19–27.


The Trevor Project. (2019). National Estimate of LGBTQ Youth Seriously Considering Suicide.


The Trevor Project. (2021, March 11). LGBTQ+ Youth Suicide Statistics & Attempt Rates in the U.S. The Trevor Project.


Ventriglio, A., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M., Torales, J., De Berardis, D., & Bhugra, D. (2021). Homophobia and mental health: A scourge of modern era. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 30, e52.


Williams Institute, UCLA. (2019, March 5). 4.5% of adults in the US identify as LGBT. Williams Institute.


Williams Institute, UCLA. (2023, July 20). More than 40% of transgender adults in the US have attempted suicide. Williams Institute.


Wilson, C., & Cariola, L. A. (2020). LGBTQI+ Youth and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research. Adolescent Research Review, 5(2), 187–211.












Written By: Dr. Wasif MD

Edited by: Madison Vargas, BS

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Published : 03/05/2024


Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Written and reviewed by

Madison Vargas

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