SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – LGBTQIA+ youth say they often experience bullying, exclusion and discrimination in schools that can put them at psychological and physical risk, and limit their education.

“I grew up during a time where trans kids in bathrooms were incredibly politicized. It was very much politicized, me simply going to the restroom. Me simply having access to different school facilities when I was just 14, 15, 16 years old,” says Ermiya Fanaeian, the chairwoman of Salt Lake City Armed Queers, and a student of the University of Utah. 

In fact, a study by the Utah Women and Leadership Project shows almost a quarter of women who are not heterosexual in Utah don’t graduate high school, compared to about seven percent of heterosexual women.  About 19 percent of LGBTQ women have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to about 28 percent of straight women.

“Kicked out of their homes with no resources, no ability to finish school without even the possibility of thinking about getting higher education. Certainly, that was the case for myself as well as a young person,” says Fanaeian, “I was lucky enough to get an education beyond high school. But I was one of the lucky ones. This was not the case for those around me in my own community.”

The study also shows income disparity. LGBTQ women are almost twice as likely to be in the lowest household income bracket of below 25 thousand dollars, as straight women. 

“From the time that the doors open at school to the time that you sit down with an interview with someone, the differences in those experiences, they have an impact on what kind of income people will have later in life,” says Candice Metzler the Executive Director of the Transgender Education Advocates of Utah.

Dr. Claudia Geist, the lead author of the study, says studies like this one show the impacts being discriminated against can have on real people’s lives.
“This is why my argument is, if we just allow people to be who they are, support and not judge them, then everybody is better off,” says Dr. Geist.