"It's clear that sexual minority youth are a population vulnerable to bullying," researcher Elise Berlan, MD, says in a news release.
"This needs to be addressed, particularly in schools," says Berlan, who works in the adolescent medicine division of Children's Hospital Boston.
She and her colleagues studied more than 7,500 U.S. youths who were 14-22 years old (average age: 17) in 2001.
Participants completed surveys in 2001 about bullying and their sexual orientation.
In the surveys, they described their feelings of attraction as completely heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, mostly homosexual, completely homosexual, or unsure.
Berlan's team excluded data from participants who were uncertain of their sexual orientation.
Among the youths studied, 90% described themselves as "completely heterosexual," another 8% called themselves "mostly heterosexual," and about 1% called themselves bisexual.
The researchers combined the "mostly homosexual" and "completely homosexual" responses into one lesbian/gay category. About 1% of the participants were in that group.
Lesbian or gay participants were three times as likely as heterosexual youth to report having been bullied.
In contrast, lesbian or gay youth were about 80% less likely than heterosexuals to say they had bullied someone, the researchers note.
The findings were presented in Denver on March 28 at the Society for Adolescent Medicine's annual meeting.