A teen and a researcher sitting together at an outdoor table..

Background: The goal of this study is to broaden and deepen our understanding of the family, peer, school and community environments that protect young LGB people from involvement in high risk health behaviors, including substance use, HIV risk behaviors and suicide behaviors.  

This study:  This research has two aims:

  • To develop a theoretically grounded approach to promoting health among LGB adolescents based on in-depth knowledge of their community and school environments
  • To link environmental data, collected using the Inventory, with existing population-based student data to identify factors at the individual, family, peer, school and community levels that protect LGB youth from involvement in health risk behaviors.

Qualitative Research: “Go-along” interviews with 72 youth in diverse locations was used to elicit in-depth information on LGB adolescents’ perceptions of supportive elements in their schools and communities; this information, in conjunction with published literature, expert review, and psychometric testing, was used to create an LGB Environment Inventory to characterize policies, programs, resources and other supports for LGB youth that exist in these settings. The Inventory will then be used to measure indicators of support in 120 communities in Minnesota, British Columbia and Massachusetts, using publicly available materials (e.g. websites) and brief contacts with key informants.

Quantitative Research: These community-level data will then be linked with existing student survey data from approximately 3,600 LGB adolescents in these same communities, which will include information about family, peer and individual supports, as well as health behaviors and demographic information. The following hypotheses will be tested:

  • Higher LGB environment scores for the community and school will be protective against health risk behaviors among LGB youth
  • Greater family connectedness and support and a more supportive peer environment will be protective against health risk behaviors among LGB youth
  • Family, peer and individual-level factors will moderate the associations between the LGB environment (community and school) and the health risk behaviors of interest.

This research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HD078470.

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Publications & Findings

LGBTQ youth-serving organizations: what do they offer and are they protective against emotional distress?

The Link between LGBTQ-Supportive Communities, Progressive Political Climate, and Suicidality Among Sexual Minority Adolescents in Canada

Associations Between Community-Level LGBTQ-Supportive Factors and Substance Use Among Sexual Minority Adolescents

LGBQ Youth’s Experiences of General and Bias-Based Bullying Victimization: The Buffering Role of Supportive School and Community Environments

LGBTQ youth-serving organizations: what do they offer and are they protective against emotional distress?

Supportive community resources are associated with lower risk of substance use among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning adolescents in Minnesota

Perceptions of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Minority Adolescents About Labels

First- and Second-Hand Experiences with Bullying, Harassment, and Violence among LGBTQ Youth

“It makes such a difference”: An examination of how LGBTQ youth talk about personal gender pronouns across North America

Helping young people stay afloat: A qualitative study of community resources and supports for LGBTQ adolescents in the U.S. and Canada

LGBTQ Youth's Views on Gay-Straight Alliances: Building Community, Providing Gateways, and Representing Safety and Support

Living as an LGBTQ youth and a parent’s child: Overlapping or separate experiences

"Kicked out": LGBTQ youths' bathroom experiences and preferences in the US and Canada

Go-along interviewing with LGBTQ youth in Canada and the United States

Chasing the rainbow: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth and pride semiotics

Research Snapshot (Video)