POLL QUESTION: Do you think gay, queer and transgender people are coming out younger than they used to?

While there's no question that many people seem to be coming out as gay, as trans, as queer... at much earlier ages than they used to (in high school and quite often in middle school) it doesn't seem completely accurate to say it's necessarily because it's easy to be out about any of those identities openly.

Easier, perhaps, than it would have been 10 years ago... 5 even.

But, as I watch stories pile up, particularly in the past couple of months, of young people like 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, or 13-year-old Asher Brown, 13-year-old Seth Walsh, 15-year-old Justin Aaberg, 15-year-old Billy Lucas and several other American teens who have taken their own lives, because they experience constant "bullying" at school - which is the buzz word that has apparently been given to bigoted acts of hate rooted in homo/transphobias, that clearly have serious and severe consequences and should be dealt with just as seriously - I really have to wonder about the common notion that it's becoming easier and easier all the time to be LGBT, and particularly to be young & LGBT.

Perhaps people are coming out younger than they used to... but that's clearly not because it's easy.

Make no mistake, if you think being LGBT isn't still stressful and difficult on a daily basis in 2010, you are wrong. If you think that LGBT people have the same rights as everyone else, you are wrong. If you think that it is easy being gender-variant, you are absolutely wrong.

Are consequences for coming out earlier changing as well? 

Does coming out in school environments that are made hostile and unsafe by students, teachers, and faculty & staff alike, do more harm to our youth than good?

How can LGBT adults provide support for our youth?

What do you think? We welcome and encourage your thoughts and comments.

(If you haven't taken our poll already, please return to the homepage and wait for the green POLL screen to rotate to the front...)