Media attention and the literature on lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth overwhelmingly focus on violence involving hate crimes and bullying, while ignoring the fact that vulnerable youth also may be at increased risk of violence in their dating relationships. In this study, we examine physical, psychological, sexual, and cyber dating violence experiences among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth—as compared to those of heterosexual youth, and we explore variations in the likelihood of help-seeking behavior and the presence of particular risk factors among both types of dating violence victims. A total of 5,647 youth (51 % female, 74 % White) from 10 schools participated in a cross-sectional anonymous survey, of which 3,745 reported currently being in a dating relationship or having been in one during the prior year. Results indicated that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are at higher risk for all types of dating violence victimization (and nearly all types of dating violence perpetration), compared to heterosexual youth. Further, when looking at gender identity, transgender and female youth are at highest risk of most types of victimization, and are the most likely perpetrators of all forms of dating violence but sexual coercion, which begs further exploration. The findings support the development of dating violence prevention programs that specifically target the needs and vulnerabilities of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, in addition to those of female and transgender youth.
Sexual minority youth (youth who are attracted to the same sex or endorse a gay/lesbian/bisexual identity) report significantly higher rates of depression and suicidality than heterosexual youth. The minority stress hypothesis contends that the stigma and discrimination experienced by sexual minority youth create a hostile social environment that can lead to chronic stress and mental health problems. The present study used longitudinal mediation models to directly test sexual minority-specific victimization as a potential explanatory mechanism of the mental health disparities of sexual minority youth. One hundred ninety-seven adolescents (14–19 years old; 70 % female; 29 % sexual minority) completed measures of sexual minority-specific victimization, depressive symptoms, and suicidality at two time points 6 months apart. Compared to heterosexual youth, sexual minority youth reported higher levels of sexual minority-specific victimization, depressive symptoms, and suicidality. Sexual minority-specific victimization significantly mediated the effect of sexual minority status on depressive symptoms and suicidality. The results support the minority stress hypothesis that targeted harassment and victimization are partly responsible for the higher levels of depressive symptoms and suicidality found in sexual minority youth. This research lends support to public policy initiatives that reduce bullying and hate crimes because reducing victimization can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of sexual minority youth.
Sexual minority (lesbian and gay, bisexual, mostly heterosexual) individuals are at an increased risk for hazardous drinking than heterosexual individuals, but little is known about the nature of the disparities as adolescents reach adulthood. We used four waves of a nationally representative data set, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), to examine disparities of hazardous drinking outcomes between sexual minority and heterosexual men and women from adolescence to young adulthood. Participants were 14–18 years old at the first assessment (N = 12,379; 53 % female) and 27–31 years old at the fourth assessment. At the fourth assessment, 13 % self-identified as sexual minority individuals, 16 % were Hispanic, and 36 % were of minority race, including primarily African Americans (60 %) and Asian Americans (18 %). There were clear hazardous drinking disparities between sexual minority individuals and heterosexual individuals over time. During adolescence, sexual minority individuals, particularly females, reported higher levels of hazardous drinking. As study participants reached adulthood, the magnitude of the hazardous drinking disparities increased among sexual minorities, sexual minority men in particular. Additional research is needed to better understand the developmental mechanisms that underlie the emerging sexual orientation related disparities of hazardous drinking in young adulthood.