RESEARCH & EDUCATION ON SUPPORTIVE & PROTECTIVE ENVIRONMENTS FOR QUEER TEENS
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.