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LGBT Teens Face Severe Challenges, Report Finds

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Ask teenagers about their greatest concerns and problems and there will be a lot of answers like these: 

"Going to college, how am I going to pay for it," says Karen, a D.C. teen who asked that her last name not be used. 

"Finally graduating, and getting my diploma," says Ray, another student from D.C. 

Both Karen and Ray are straight, and a new report out from the Human Rights campaign shows that grades, college, and financial pressures are chief among straight teenagers in America. 

The report, called "Growing Up LGBT in America," paints a very different picture for LGBT students. Take 17-year-old Tatiana and 14-year-old Ayanna, who aren't straight. Their answers are very different. 

"Acceptance is major, even for school, or if I'm applying for jobs," Tatiana says. "I don't know how my orientation will affect that." 

Adds Ayanna: "I worry about coming out to my parents. That's the hardest." 

The Human Rights Campaign asked a number of these questions to more than 10,000 young people in the U.S. for the study, which was published this week. The study's major conclusion? LGBT teenagers face greater risks than their straight peers. 

The study also found that 67 percent of straight teens interviewed said they have a happy life. That's compared to just 37 percent of LGBT teens surveyed who said they were happy. 

When asked whether he is happy, 15-year-old Christian, who is not straight, says, "not really." 

Why? "Because with all of the abuse and stuff like that …" he says, trailing off. 

It's a common theme among LGBT youths, says Michael Cole Scwhartz of the Human Rights Campaign. 

"LGBT youth face families that might not be supportive, they face increased bullying and harassment in schools, they face churches that might not be supportive," Schwartz says. "So they constantly are trying to figure out how they fit in to this world that doesn't always welcome them." 

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