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Extending the Boundaries of Research on Adolescent Development

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Abstract

The mainstream psychology literature has historically failed to include individuals with nonheterosexual sexual orientations in its study of many areas, including adolescent development, sexual development, psychotherapy, couple relationships, aging, suicide, and substance abuse. The articles contained in this issue make clear that knowledge of human behavior will be more complete when research designs are expanded to reflect more accurately the diversity of sexual orientations and sexual expressions. Furthermore, when sexuality is categorized into a rigidly defined group like lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), it constrains the ways in which individuals might otherwise think about it. Knowledge of human behavior will be advanced more effectively when the field of psychology integrates people of diverse and complex sexualities into its research and studies the mediators and moderators associated with this diversity.

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... However, compared to the literature on developmental strengths and young people of differing gender, age, racial /ethnic groups, and socioeconomic status, there is a dearth of empirical work on relating developmental strengths to other dimensions of diversity, such as sexual orientation, family background, or differing exposure to violence. Goldfried and Bell (2003), for example, describe literature on sexual minorities as essentially "ignored" in mainstream psychology and adolescent development. The available evidence suggests that at least some developmental strengths, such as self-esteem and, particularly, family support, seem to diminish or eliminate differences in mental or behavioral health problems among both sexual majority and minority youth (Blum, Beuhring, & Rinehart, 2000). ...
Chapter
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This chapter describes positive youth development (PYD) as an emerging arena of applied developmental science. We show how PYD is both rooted in the theoretical traditions of developmental psychology, and fueled by newer emphases on nurturing the potentialities of youth more than addressing their supposed deficits, and on addressing and helping to shape the roles of developmental contexts, especially that of the community, and youth themselves as agents of their own development. We begin with an historical overview and a presentation on major conceptual frameworks, including the framework of developmental assets, which have significantly influenced PYD theory, research, and programs. The following section of the chapter poses seven broad hypotheses that represent the scientific foundation of PYD (e.g., contexts can be intentionally altered to enhance developmental success and changes in the context change the person), and reviews a wide array of studies that lends support to the hypotheses. After demonstrating the general utility of these hypotheses for understanding and promoting positive development in all youth, we review research that illustrates differences in developmental paths and outcomes across youth diversity in gender, age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The chapter ends by suggesting those areas of youth development knowledge where the field is relatively strong (e.g., taxonomies of factors that are correlated with positive outcomes), and those areas where significantly more research is needed (e.g., theories of change that articulate how youth, adults, and community systems move toward greater developmental attentiveness). We conclude by posing a number of theoretical questions, research challenges, and applied needs to be addressed if the promise of PYD as both a scientific and applied field is to be fully realized.
... Even the use of the term ''LGB'' can obscure the differences among individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The umbrella term ''LGB'' has been useful as a tool for political advocacy, but as Goldfried and Bell (2003) observe, it has limited scientific utility. Diamond (2003a) suggests that instead of employing a simple categorical approach of comparing heterosexual and homosexual groups, researchers should devote greater attention to sexual orientation mediators and moderators of psychological phenomena, and study how they affect both sexual majority and sexual minority individuals in similar and different ways. ...
... While it may be premature to develop a measure solely for a GLB population without a better understanding of how relationships and dating anxiety may function, it appears clear that the current assessment tools available are far too focused on heterosexually specific language and situations to be of great use. The incorporation of GLB issues can only benefit, not be a detriment to, mainstream psychological research and provides us with a better understanding of human functioning (Goldfried & Bell, 2003). At the very least, authors of new measures in this area should take steps to make the language, terms, and situations/scenarios employed more sensitive to both same-and other-sex dating relationships. ...
Article
As a precursor to numerous psychological difficulties, dating anxiety is an important area of research that has been largely neglected, with existing research providing few answers concerning how this construct may present at different developmental stages of the life span, or across special interest groups. This article describes what factors may be important to consider when examining dating anxiety in adolescents, gay/lesbian/bisexual populations, ethnic minorities, older adults, and by addressing gender. Further research is necessary to address how social anxiety differs from dating anxiety, how these two constructs are similar and different across groups and throughout the life span, and how more developmentally sensitive measures of dating anxiety may be developed.
... Even the use of the term ''LGB'' can obscure the differences among individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The umbrella term ''LGB'' has been useful as a tool for political advocacy, but as Goldfried and Bell (2003) observe, it has limited scientific utility. Diamond (2003a) suggests that instead of employing a simple categorical approach of comparing heterosexual and homosexual groups, researchers should devote greater attention to sexual orientation mediators and moderators of psychological phenomena, and study how they affect both sexual majority and sexual minority individuals in similar and different ways. ...
Article
With increasing public acceptance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LCB) individuals, therapists can expect to encounter more opportunities to work with LCB clients. As therapists, we need to be certain that we can provide competent care to this population, which has been poorly served in the past by practitioners taught to view homosexuality as pathological. Most therapists have never received training in working affirmatively with LCB clients. We may be unaware of how the pathological view of homosexuality continues to influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in subtle ways. By becoming more aware of our attitudes toward LCB individuals, and by learning more about issues that many LCB individuals face, we can increase our clinical effectiveness with LCB clients. Key words: psychotherapy, psychotherapist attitudes, homophobia, homosexuality, gay, lesbian, bisexual, sexual orientation.
... One reason for this lack of LGBT-focused research may be individual and institutional homophobia and heterosexism, particularly in academic institutions [100]. These discriminatory forces may negatively impact the execution of LGBT research by influencing policies and attitudes that marginalize such research by segregating it from ''mainstream'' research, and promoting the view that LGBT issues are not of concern to the general population [100,101]. Some researchers also may fear institutional discrimination for conducting LGBT research, especially when issues of tenure and promotion are involved [84]. ...
Article
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While rates of HIV infection among gay/bisexual male adolescents have been increasing in the U.S., there has not been a commensurate increase in the development of HIV prevention interventions targeted specifically for this population. This editorial review examines primary HIV prevention interventions published in peer-reviewed journals between 1991 and 2010 in order to explore the differential focus on heterosexual versus gay/bisexual male adolescents/young adults. Of the 92 articles reviewed, only 5 (5.44 %) included interventions that addressed gay/bisexual sexual orientation or same-gender sexual activity. HIV prevention interventions developed for adolescents/young adults in the U.S. are not targeting those at highest risk of infection. Recommendations for addressing this gap are discussed.
... The term sexual minority youth encompasses a diverse range of sexual expressions and may be too broad to be useful. However, it removes the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) labels and is more inclusive of the range of feelings and behavioral expressions experienced by youth who are not in the sexual majority (Goldfried & Bell, 2003). There is a distinct literature, particularly in sociology and psychology, about adolescent lesbians and gays, yet very little information about bisexual or transgender youth. ...
Article
Transgender youth face unique and complex issues as they confront cultural expectations of gender expression and how these fit with what is natural for them. Striving for balance, learning to cope, questioning, and eventually becoming comfortable with one's gender identity and sexual orientation are of paramount importance for healthy growth and development. Ineffective management of intense challenges over time without adequate social support places youth at risk for a number of unhealthy behaviors, including risk behaviors associated with acquiring HIV. This article explores early foundations of gender identity development, challenges in the development of transgender youth, and the limited data that exist on transgender youth and HIV risks. The concept of resilience is introduced as a counterbalancing area for assessment and intervention in practice and future research with transgender youth.
... Although research findings indicating the vulnerability of sexual minority youth to emotional difficulties have raised awareness of health issues in this population, they might lead to the erroneous conclusion that the sexual minority orientation per se causes such outcomes (Goldfried and Bell 2003). It is external factors such as the stigma, harassment, and discrimination sexual minority youth face, not being sexual minority, that appear to put them at risk (Savin-Williams and Ream 2003). ...
Article
As the press and communities interpret research reports, their conclusions may go far beyond a study's evidence, especially if groups are trying to support politically-motivated claims about controversial causes and solutions to health problems. Few research designs can "prove" cause and effect, especially in population health research. However, some designs are better than others at identifying influences on health. Several strategies can help non-researchers evaluate studies critically. Using these statistics, this paper explores claims that can (and cannot) be made about causes of suicide attempts among gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents, based on current research evidence available.
Article
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Introduction: Transfemale youth (TFY) are an underserved and understudied population at risk for numerous poor physical and mental health outcomes, most notably HIV. Research suggests that parental acceptance and social support may serve as protective factors against HIV and other risks for TFY; however, it is unclear whether TFY receive primary social support from parents with or without parental acceptance of their gender identity. This study examines differences in parental acceptance, mental health and the HIV risk factors of history of sex work, age at sexual debut and engagement in condomless anal intercourse between TFY with two types of primary social support - non-parental primary social support (NPPSS) and parental primary social support (PPSS). Methods: Cross-sectional data collected from 301 TFY from 2012 to 2014 in the San Francisco Bay Area were analyzed to determine differences in parental acceptance, mental health and HIV risk factors between youth with and without PPSS. Univariate statistics and chi-squared tests were conducted to determine if parental acceptance and health outcomes were correlated with type of social support. Results: Two-hundred fifty-one participants (83.7%) reported having NPPSS, and 49 (16.3%) reported PPSS. Significantly more youth with PPSS reported affirmative responses on parental acceptance items than their NPPSS counterparts. For example, 87.8% of youth with PPSS reported that their parents believed they could have a happy future as a trans adult, compared with 51.6% of youth with NPPSS (p<0.001). Fewer participants with PPSS reported symptoms of psychological distress (2.0% vs. 12.5%, p=0.057), though this finding was not statistically significant; no significant associations were found between primary social support type and HIV risk factors. Conclusions: These results suggest that TFY with parental acceptance of their gender identity may be more likely to reach out to their parents as their primary source of social support. Interventions focused on parental acceptance of their child's gender identity may have the most promise for creating parental social support systems in the lives of TFY.
Article
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Introduction Transgender women are at high risk for the acquisition and transmission of HIV. However, there are limited empiric data characterizing HIV‐related risks among transgender women in sub‐Saharan Africa. The objective of these analyses is to determine what factors, including sexual behaviour stigma, condom use and engagement in sex work, contribute to risk for HIV infection among transgender women across three West African nations. Methods Data were collected via respondent‐driven sampling from men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women during three‐ to five‐month intervals from December 2012 to October 2015 across a total of six study sites in Togo, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. During the study visit, participants completed a questionnaire and were tested for HIV. Chi‐square tests were used to compare the prevalence of variables of interest between transgender women and MSM. A multilevel generalized structural equation model (GSEM) was used to account for clustering of observations within study sites in the multivariable analysis, as well as to estimate mediated associations between sexual behaviour stigma and HIV infection among transgender women. Results In total, 2456 participants meeting eligibility criteria were recruited, of which 453 individuals identified as being female/transgender. Transgender women were more likely than MSM to report selling sex to a male partner within the past 12 months (p<0.01), to be living with HIV (p<0.01) and to report greater levels of sexual behaviour stigma as compared with MSM (p<0.05). In the GSEM, sexual behaviour stigma from broader social groups was positively associated with condomless anal sex (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=1.33, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.09, 1.62) and with selling sex (AOR=1.23, 95% CI=1.02, 1.50). Stigma from family/friends was also associated with selling sex (AOR=1.42, 95% CI=1.13, 1.79), although no significant associations were identified with prevalent HIV infection. Conclusions These data suggest that transgender women have distinct behaviours from those of MSM and that stigma perpetuated against transgender women is impacting HIV‐related behaviours. Furthermore, given these differences, interventions developed for MSM will likely be less effective among transgender women. This situation necessitates dedicated responses for this population, which has been underserved in the context of both HIV surveillance and existing responses. 10.7448/IAS.19.3.20774 © 2016 Stahlman S et al; licensee International AIDS Society Received 28 October 2015; Revised 14 April 2016; Accepted 25 April 2016; Published 17 July 2016 Corresponding author: Shauna Stahlman, E7133, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. Tel: +1 443 287 2370; Fax: +1 410 614 8371. (sstahlm1@jhu.edu)
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OBJECTIVE : To analyze the relationships between sexual behavior and risk factors to physical and mental health in adolescents. METHODS : Study of 3,195 pupils aged 15 to 19 in secondary education, in public and private schools in 10 state capitals in Brazil between 2007 and 2008. Multi-stage (schools and pupils) cluster sampling was used in each city and public and private educational network. All of the students selected completed a questionnaire on the following items: socioeconomic and demographic data; sexual behavior; having sex with those of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both; alcohol and cannabis use; using condoms; traumatic sexual experiences as a child or adolescent; suicidal thoughts. The analysis included describing frequencies, Chi-square test, analysis of multiple and cluster correspondence. Responses to an open ended question in which the adolescent expressed general comments about themselves and their lives were qualitatively analyzed using content analysis. RESULTS : Around 3.0% of adolescents reported homosexual or bisexual behavior, with no difference according to sex, age, skin color, social status family structure or educational network. Adolescents with homosexual/bisexual sexual behavior, compared to their heterosexual peers, reported: (p < 0.05): getting drunk (18.7% and 10.5%, respectively), frequent cannabis use (6.1% and 2.1%, respectively), suicidal thoughts (42.5% and 18.7%, respectively), and having been the victim of sexual violence (11.7% and 1.5%; respectively). Adolescents with homosexual/bisexual sexual behavior reported that they used condoms less frequently (74.2%) than their heterosexual peers (48.6%, p < 0.001). In the correspondence analysis, three groups were found, one composed of adolescents with homosexual/bisexual behavior and experiencing risk factors; suffering sexual violence, never using a condom, suicidal thoughts, frequent cannabis use; another composed of occasional cannabis and condom users, who got drunk frequently, and adolescents with heterosexual behavior and none of the risk factors investigated. More of the risk factors were found in adolescents with homosexual/bisexual behavior compared with those with heterosexual behavior. Adolescents with homosexual/bisexual sexual behavior were more likely to talk about their positive personal experiences and negative relationship experiences that their heterosexual peers, but spoke less about religion. CONCLUSIONS : Not only should this issue be studied in more detail, but preventative actions aimed at adolescents with homosexual/bisexual behavior should be widened.
Article
To analyze the relationships between sexual behavior and risk factors to physical and mental health in adolescents. Study of 3,195 pupils aged 15 to 19 in secondary education, in public and private schools in 10 state capitals in Brazil between 2007 and 2008. Multi-stage (schools and pupils) cluster sampling was used in each city and public and private educational network. All of the students selected completed a questionnaire on the following items: socioeconomic and demographic data; sexual behavior; having sex with those of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both; alcohol and cannabis use; using condoms; traumatic sexual experiences as a child or adolescent; suicidal thoughts. The analysis included describing frequencies, Chi-square test, analysis of multiple and cluster correspondence. Responses to an open ended question in which the adolescent expressed general comments about themselves and their lives were qualitatively analyzed using content analysis. Around 3.0% of adolescents reported homosexual or bisexual behavior, with no difference according to sex, age, skin color, social status family structure or educational network. Adolescents with homosexual/bisexual sexual behavior, compared to their heterosexual peers, reported: (p < 0.05): getting drunk (18.7% and 10.5%, respectively), frequent cannabis use (6.1% and 2.1%, respectively), suicidal thoughts (42.5% and 18.7%, respectively), and having been the victim of sexual violence (11.7% and 1.5%; respectively). Adolescents with homosexual/bisexual sexual behavior reported that they used condoms less frequently (74.2%) than their heterosexual peers (48.6%, p < 0.001). In the correspondence analysis, three groups were found, one composed of adolescents with homosexual/bisexual behavior and experiencing risk factors; suffering sexual violence, never using a condom, suicidal thoughts, frequent cannabis use; another composed of occasional cannabis and condom users, who got drunk frequently, and adolescents with heterosexual behavior and none of the risk factors investigated. More of the risk factors were found in adolescents with homosexual/bisexual behavior compared with those with heterosexual behavior. Adolescents with homosexual/bisexual sexual behavior were more likely to talk about their positive personal experiences and negative relationship experiences that their heterosexual peers, but spoke less about religion. Not only should this issue be studied in more detail, but preventative actions aimed at adolescents with homosexual/bisexual behavior should be widened.
Article
During the last three decades, a growing body of research has documented the psychosocial risks and challenges facing sexual minority youths. This paper discusses the evolution of research with sexual minority youths, current trends that should be continued, and recommendations for a social work research agenda aimed at enhancing the health and well-being of these adolescents. This agenda should include integrating sexual minority issues into general studies of adolescence, more studies of transgender youth, longitudinal studies, intervention research, and further consideration of ethical issues in the conduct of research with sexual minority youth.
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This study investigated the relation of adolescent same-sex attraction to “successful development” (Baltes, P. B., Am. Psychol. 32:366–380, 1997). Based on a survey of high-school adolescents, four groups were defined according to the nature of self-reported sexual attraction: exclusively heterosexual (EHA; n=3594); mostly heterosexual (MHA; n=124); bisexual (BSA; n=122); and same-sex attraction (SSA, n=36). Groups were compared across multiple intrapersonal, interpersonal, and environmental domains based on mean group differences and prevalence of developmental assets. Although the EHA group reported the most positive status across domains, several similarities among the groups were noted. Groups did not differ significantly in friendship quality and perceptions of school climate in the mean group comparisons, as well as academic orientation and (low) peer victimization in the assets-based analyses. Implications for successful development among adolescents reporting same-sex attraction are discussed along with the integration of the study of non-heterosexual youth into mainstream adolescent research.
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Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) populations are susceptible to stress-related mental health disorders because of daily imposed stigma and prejudice. Yet minimal information exists from the perspective of sexual minority youth about how to support them in managing a challenging social environment during critical stages of development. Through the lens of youth from two geographic communities this study examined what is needed to support GLBT adolescent mental health. The study employed inductive secondary analysis of qualitative and quantitative data gathered through Concept Mapping needs assessments. Findings include 61 unduplicated ideas for support across the two groups of youth; 14 primary themes emerged with 22 stated needs common among both groups. Areas of need in multiple service systems are identified. The importance of the supports for meeting youths' emotional needs varied between the two communities. Ideas generated represent youth ideas for improving conditions which contribute to disparate community supports needed to develop positive emotional and psychological well being. The findings are conceptualized with regard to psychological and physical safety; community impact on emotional well being; schools and psychosocial supports; and access to relevant mental health and health care. Discussion includes implications for practice and policy.
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Given the importance of romantic and dating relationships during adolescence, the purpose of the study was to develop and evaluate the psychometric properties of the Dating Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (DAS-A). Participants were 757 high school students (56% girls, ages 15 to 18 years). Adolescents completed the DAS-A, the Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A), a Dating Questionnaire, and the Revised Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Factor analysis of the DAS-A yielded a 3-factor solution with acceptable internal consistencies: fear of negative evaluation in dating situations (FNE-Dating); social distress when interacting with real or potential dating partners (SD-Date); and social distress when in a group of mixed-sex peers (SD-Group). Confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the 3-factor solution. Results indicated that younger adolescents reported more dating anxiety than older adolescents, and boys reported more SD-Group than girls. Dating anxiety was associated with peer-related anxiety and depressive symptoms and was a significant predictor of adolescents' current and usual dating status, even when controlling for adolescents' peer-related social anxiety. The findings provide support for the reliability and validity of the DAS-A. Clinical and research implications are discussed.
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The prevalence and mental health sequelae of child sexual abuse, rape, intimate partner violence and hate crimes are examined in a national sample of 1925 lesbians who participated as respondents in the National Lesbian Health Care Survey (1984-1985), the most comprehensive study on U.S. lesbians to date. Multivariate analyses of covariance indicated that, relative to a comparison group, lesbians who had experienced child sexual abuse and intimate partner violence reported significantly more daily stress, depression, and alcohol abuse; those who had been raped reported significantly more depression and alcohol abuse; and those who had experienced hate crimes reported significantly more daily stress, depression and alcohol and drug abuse. Lesbians who experienced a physical hate crime reported significantly more daily stress and drug abuse compared to lesbians who experienced a physical assault that they did not perceive as hate-motivated. MAN-COVAs were performed to examine the impact of cumulative violence among lesbians who experienced child sexual abuse and adult violence and showed that lesbians with a history of child sexual abuse and intimate partner violence reported significantly more daily stress and alcohol abuse.
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Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths (aged 15–21 yrs) were studied to determine the impact of verbal abuse, threat of attacks, and assault on their mental health, including suicide. Family support and self-acceptance were hypothesized to act as mediators of the victimization and mental health-suicide relation. Structural equation modeling revealed that in addition to a direct effect of victimization on mental health, family support and self-acceptance in concert mediated the victimization and mental health relation. Victimization was not directly related to suicide. Victimization interacted with family support to influence mental health, but only for low levels of victimization. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Although some research suggests that sexual orientation is a stable, early appearing trait, interviews with 89 young sexual-minority women revealed that a majority of women failed to report at least one of the following: childhood indicators of sexual orientation, stability in same-sex attractions, or awareness of same-sex attractions prior to the conscious process of sexual questioning. Lesbians were not more likely to report these experiences than bisexuals, although they reported significantly greater same-sex attractions. Consistent with studies on older cohorts, few young women reported exclusive same-sex attractions. These findings suggest that recollected consistency among prior and current behavior, ideation, and attractions are not systematically associated with sexual orientation among contemporary young women.
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Questionnaire data about criminal victimization experiences were collected from 2,259 Sacramento-area lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (N = 1,170 women, 1,089 men). Approximately 1/5 of the women and 1/4 of the men had experienced victimization because of their adult sexual orientation. Hate crimes were less likely than nonbias crimes to have been reported to police. Compared with other recent crime victims, lesbian and gay hate-crime survivors manifested significantly more symptoms of depression, anger, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. They also displayed significantly more crime-related fears and beliefs, lower sense of mastery, and more attributions of their personal setbacks to sexual prejudice than did nonbias crime victims and nonvictims. Comparable differences were not observed among bisexuals. The findings highlight the importance of recognizing hate-crime survivors' special needs in clinical settings and in public policy.
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As psychological research on sexual-minority (i.e., nonheterosexual) adolescents has increased over the past 20 years, it has become increasingly segregated from research on mainstream heterosexual youths, as if the knowledge gleaned from each population had nothing to offer our understanding of the other. To the contrary, understanding of both populations would be greatly improved by integrating investigations of sexual-minority issues into mainstream psychological research on adolescents. I outline 4 weaknesses in contemporary research on sexual-minority youth that stem from--and perpetuate--its historical isolation from mainstream developmental research: misspecification of the populations under study, lack of attention to within-group diversity, failure to test alternative explanations for--and moderators of--"sexual-minority effects," and insufficient attention to the underlying processes and mechanisms through which sexual-minority effects operate. Correcting these weaknesses has important implications for future research on how same-sex and other-sex sexuality shape adolescent psychosocial development and clinical child and adolescent problems.
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A critical analysis of the LGBT political movement and the limits of its pursuit of equality (first published in 1995).
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Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths 15 to 21 years old were studied to determine the impact of verbal abuse, threat of attacks, and assault on their mental health, including suicide. Family support and self-acceptance were hypothesized to act as mediators of the victimization and mental health-suicide relation. Structural equation modeling revealed that in addition to a direct effect of victimization on mental health, family support and self-acceptance in concert mediated the victimization and mental health relation. Victimization was not directly related to suicide. Victimization interacted with family support to influence mental health, but only for low levels of victimization.
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This study examined the lifetime victimization based on sexual orientation of 416 lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) older adults aged 60 or older. Participants reported the ages at which they were aware of their sexual orientation, self-identified as LGB, and first disclosed their sexual orientation to anyone. Frequencies of nine kinds of verbal and physical victimization were obtained. Nearly three quarters reported some kind of sexual orientation victimization. Men reported more overall victimization than women. The more open participants were about their sexual orientation and the less time they spent before disclosing their sexual orientation, the more victimization they reported. Physical victimization was associated with earlier achievement of sexual orientation milestones and more time being open about one's sexual orientation. Participants who had been physically attacked reported lower self-esteem, more loneliness, and poorer mental health than others. More suicide attempts were reported among those older adults who were physically attacked.
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review the various ways in which "coming out" has been conceptualized and defined / developmental processes through which youths come to recognize their homoerotic affections and disclose their sexual feelings to others are explored / psychological repercussions of self-recognition and defenses commonly used to ensure psychological integrity are examined / because coming out to parents is considered by many lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths to be the most important, yet frightening, disclosure, this issue is explored in detail / self-esteem and its relationship to coming out are reviewed and suggestions for enhancing positive self-concept among adolescents, particularly through role models and the media, are considered (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Whereas opponents of lesbian and gay parent rights claim that children with lesbigay parents are at higher risk for a variety of negative outcomes, most research in psychology concludes, somewhat defensively, that there are no differences at all in developmental outcomes between children raised by lesbigay and heterosexual parents. This paper challenges this defensive conceptual framework and analyzes the ways in which heterosexism has hampered intellectual progress in the field. We discuss limitations in the definitions, samples, and analyses of the studies to date. Next we explore findings from 21 studies and demonstrate that researchers frequently downplay findings of difference regarding, in particular, children's gender and sexual preferences and behavior that could instead stimulate important theoretical questions. We propose a less defensive, more sociologically-informed analytic framework for investigating these issues that focuses on 1) the role of parental gender vis a vis sexual orientation in influencing children's gender development; 2) the role of selection effects produced by homophobia that may intervene in the relationships between parental sexual orientations and child outcomes; and 3) the relationship between parental sexual orientations and children's sexual preferences and behaviors.
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The significance of the parents for the coming out process and for the self-evaluation of 317 gay and lesbian youths between the ages of 14 and 23 years was assessed in the current study. Responses from a 10-page questionnaire are analyzed, and these findings are discussed in the context of sex differences for both adolescents and parents, the importance of the parents for the self-esteem of gay and lesbian youth, and limitations of the current investigation.
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The very recent history of pathologizing homosexuality still has a strong impact on the public in general and mental health professionals in particular. In contrast to the early research on sexual reorientation of lesbians and gay men, there is relatively little empirical research on the mental health issues of lesbians and gay men. Whether researchers choose to define sexual orientation by sexual behavior, self-definition, or membership in lesbian and gay community groups will have an impact on the results. Research on mental health issues that include lesbians, gay men, and heterosexual women and men would allow an examination of the relative salience of gender versus sexual orientation. Finally, the experiences of lesbians and gay men in society may place them at increased risk for some mental health problems and may protect them from other mental health problems.
Article
In the present study, the researchers examined factors related to depression, hopelessness, and suicidality in gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents, compared with demographically similar heterosexual adolescents. Sexual minority adolescents reported greater depression, hopelessness, and past and present suicidality than did heterosexual adolescents. However, when controlling for other psychosocial predictors of present distress, significant differences between the 2 samples disappeared. For past suicidality scores, the effects of sexual orientation were reduced, but still significant, when accounting for the other predictor variables. These results suggest that environmental factors associated with sexual orientation, which can be targeted and changed through prevention and intervention efforts, play a major role in predicting distress in this population.
Article
Despite the growing clinical and research literature dealing with gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) issues, mainstream psychology has tended to ignore much of the work that has been done in this area. This article illustrates how clinical and research writings on GLB issues continue to remain invisible to mainstream psychology in such areas as life span development and aging, teenage suicide, substance abuse, victimization and abuse, and family and couple relationships. It also deals with some of the determinants of well-being among GLB individuals, such as family support, and notes the benefits accruing to mainstream psychology from studying GLB issues. A network of family members within psychology having GLB relatives has been formed--AFFIRM: Psychologist Affirming Their Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Family--and is dedicated to supporting its own family members, encouraging other family members to do likewise, supporting research and clinical work on GLB issues, and closing the gap between GLB clinical and research work and mainstream psychology.
Article
This article presents a new paradigm for understanding the complexity of human sexual, affectional, and erotic attractions--commonly known as sexual orientation. This new paradigm recognizes that there is great diversity among sexual orientations, erotic and emotional attractions, behaviors, and identities and that there are complex interrelations among these dimensions. Sexual orientation is determined by multiple influences, including a wide range of sociocultural factors. The development of sexual orientation is arrived at through multiple pathways. Individuals with the same sexual orientation may have little else in common. Thus, a model of sexual orientation is presented that is based on multiplicity, not sameness, and that examines the overlapping identities and statuses of culture, gender, age, race, ethnicity, class, disability, and sexuality.
Article
To examine the link between victimization at school and health risk behaviors using representative data comparing lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths and heterosexual youths. Data from the 1995 Youth Risk Behavior Survey taken in Massachusetts and Vermont were examined. This sample included 9188 9th through 12th grade students; 315 of these students were identified as LGB. Analyses of variance were used to examine health risk behaviors by sexual orientation by gender by victimization level. The combined effect of LGB status and high levels of at-school victimization was associated with the highest levels of health risk behaviors. LGB youths reporting high levels of at-school victimization reported higher levels of substance use, suicidality, and sexual risk behaviors than heterosexual peers reporting high levels of at-school victimization. Also, LGB youths reporting low levels of at-school victimization reported levels of substance use, suicidality, and sexual-risk behaviors that were similar to heterosexual peers who reported low at-school victimization. The findings provide evidence that differences in health risks among LGB youth are mediated by victimization at school. Such victimization of LGB youth is associated with health risk behaviors.
Article
Lesbian and gay issues are barely visible in the social work literature. This study examined the content of articles on homosexuality that were published in four major social work journals between 1988 and 1997. Articles were coded according to their focus on either HIV/AIDS and the gay community or other issues pertaining to lesbians and gay men. Articles were also coded as client focused, worker focused, or macro focused. Two-thirds of the 77 articles published on homosexuality focused on HIV/AIDS. Most articles reflected a problem-oriented view of gay and lesbian people; few addressed heterosexism or environmental interventions. More literature is needed that focuses on strengths, heterosexist conditions, and social justice for lesbian and gay people.
Article
Little attention has been given to how femininity and masculinity ideologies impact sexual-identity development. Differentiating violations of conventional femininity and masculinity ideologies as part of an overt process of sexual-identity development in sexual-minority adolescents suggested the possibility of a parallel process among heterosexual adolescents. Based on feminist theory and analysis of heterosexual adolescents narratives about relationships, the importance of negotiating femininity and masculinity ideologies as part of sexual-identity development for all adolescents is described.
Article
The purpose of this study was to provide data addressing Diamond's (this issue) 4 problem areas in sexual orientation research by comparing gay, bisexual, and questioning male youth who report attempting suicide with those who do not. Secondary analyses were conducted with 2 datasets, 1 with a gay support group (n = 51) and the other with online youth (n = 681). Reported suicide attempts ranged from 39% among support-group youth, to 25% among Internet gay support group youth, to 9% among Internet non-support group youth. Sexual orientation, behavior, and identity did not predict suicidal attempt status, but suicide attempters experienced higher levels of both generic life stressors (low self-esteem, substance use, victimization) and gay-related stressors, particularly those directly related to visible (femininity) and behavioral (gay sex) aspects of their sexual identity. Support-group attendance was related to higher levels of suicidality and life stressors, as well as certain resiliency factors. Results suggest that there exists a minority of sexual-minority youth who are at risk but that it would be inappropriate to characterize the entire population as such.
Article
Research on adolescent same-sex sexuality has focused almost exclusively on risk in the lives of self-identified lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. The attention to same-sex self identity may obscure heterogeneity in same-sex romance (attractions and relationships) and thus may inaccurately characterize sexual-minority youth as more different than heterosexual youth in terms of emotional health risk. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examine the nexus of romantic attractions and relationships among contemporary U.S. adolescents, linking experiences of romance to indicators of emotional health. We conclude that broadening the scope of inquiry beyond binaries of identity (that is, gay vs. straight) provides the opportunity to more fully understand the health and well-being of all adolescents.
Virtual equality: The mainstreaming of gay and les-bian liberation New York: Anchor Books Among the missing: Content on lesbian and gay people in social work journals
  • U R Vaid
  • M Wagner
Vaid, U. (1995). Virtual equality: The mainstreaming of gay and les-bian liberation. New York: Anchor Books. Van Voorhis, R., & Wagner, M. (2002). Among the missing: Content on lesbian and gay people in social work journals. Social Work, 47, 345–353.
Developmental perspec-tives on coming out to self and others The lives of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals: Children to adults
  • K Cohen
  • R Savin-Williams
Cohen, K., & Savin-Williams, R. (1996). Developmental perspec-tives on coming out to self and others. In R. Savin-Williams & K. Cohen (Eds.), The lives of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals: Children to adults (pp. 113–151). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.