Survey Shows Depression, Gender Confusion Rising in Maine High Schoolers

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The number of Maine high school students who identify as transgender more than doubled from 2019 to 2021, according to the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey conducted by the Maine Department of Education.

The survey also showed significant increases in Maine high schoolers reporting depression and suicide ideation.

In 2019, 1.6 percent of students reported that they were transgender. In 2021, that number rose to 3.6 percent.

The 2021 survey gleaned that information by asking the following question:

“Some people describe themselves as transgender when their sex at birth does not match the way they think or feel about their gender. Are you transgender?”

The number of students identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual also increased significantly since 2019.

In 2019, 2.8 percent of students identifies as gay or lesbian, while 9.6 percent of students said they were bisexual.

The question was asked slightly differently in the 2021 survey, but the data shows 21.2 percent of students identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, with another 4.6 percent saying they were not sure about their “sexual identity.”

The State categorized the increase in transgender identifications as “significantly higher” than the last survey.

The survey also found significantly higher self-reported incidences of depression and suicide ideation among Maine’s high school students.

The percentage of students who reported feeling sad or hopeless for more than two weeks rose from 32.1 percent in 2019 to 35.9 percent in 2021.

In response to the question, “During the last 12 months, did you ever seriously consider attempting suicide?,” 18.5 percent of high schoolers said yes. In 2019, that rate was just 16.4 percent.

The 2021 MIYHS is the first time the survey has been collected since Gov. Janet Mills ordered schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than two-thirds of students said doing school work during the pandemic was more difficult, while 42.7 percent said their mental health was “not good” during the school closures.


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