Complex Outness Patterns Among Sexual Minority Youth: A Latent Class Analysis

Antonia E. Caba, Allen B. Mallory, Kay A. Simon, Taylor Rathus, Ryan J. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Prior scholarship has documented health-relevant consequences of sexual minority youth (SMY) sexual identity disclosure (i.e., “outness”), yet most of the extant work focuses on one social context at a time and/or measures outness as dichotomous: out or not out. However, SMY are out in some contexts (e.g., family, friends) and not in others, and to varying degrees (e.g., to some friends, but not to all). Using a national sample of 8884 SMY ages 13–17 (45% cisgender female, 67% White, 38% gay/lesbian and 34% bisexual, and 36% from the U.S. South), this study used latent class analysis to identify complex patterns of outness among SMY, as well differences in class membership by demographics, depression, family rejection, and bullying. The results indicated six distinct classes: out to all but teachers (n = 1033), out to siblings and peers (n = 1808), out to siblings and LGBTQ peers (n = 1707), out to LGBTQ peers (n = 1376), mostly not out (n = 1653), and very much not out (n = 1307). The findings reveal significant differences in class membership by age, sexual identity, gender identity, race and ethnicity, geography, and well-being outcomes. Moreover, these findings underscore the complex role of outness across social contexts in shaping health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)746-765
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this project was provided by the Ohio State University Institute for Population Research through a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, P2CHD058484. This research was also supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse through a loan repayment program grant 1L60DA054640-01 awarded to Allen B. Mallory, and grant K01DA047918 awarded to Ryan J. Watson. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Funding Information:
This research uses data from the LGBTQ National Teen Study , designed by Ryan J. Watson and Rebecca M. Puhl in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign, and supported by the Office for Vice President of Research at the University of Connecticut. The authors acknowledge the important contributions of Ellen Kahn, Gabe Murchison, and Liam Miranda in their support, conceptualization, and management related to the LGBTQ National Teen Study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Disclosure
  • Outness
  • Sexual identity
  • Sexual minority youth

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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