Research demonstrates that young people involved in bullying are at greater risk for poor emotional health outcomes, but this association may not be consistent for youth of different sexual orientations. Understanding the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) youth may suggest important opportunities for intervention and prevention. This study, therefore, examines whether involvement with bullying is differentially associated with emotional well-being across sexual orientation. Survey data were collected from a large statewide sample of 9th and 11th grade students in 2013 (N = 79,039, 49.8 % female, 74.6 % white). Logistic regression tested associations between sexual orientation, physical or relational bullying perpetration and five measures of emotional health. In the full sample, those reporting bullying perpetration had significantly elevated odds of emotional health problems. However, interaction terms and stratified models indicated that in nine out of ten physical bullying models and two out of ten relational bullying models, perpetration was not as strongly associated with poor emotional health among LGBQ adolescents as it was among heterosexual youth. Possible explanations for this finding include unhealthy coping strategies or masking one’s own vulnerable status as LGBQ. Continued efforts to prevent bullying are needed for all youth.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study is funded by Grant R40 MC 26815 (Marla Eisenberg, Principal Investigator) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program. Dr. Gower’s time was supported by Grant #T32HP22239 (Iris Borowsky, Principal Investigator) from a National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care. Minnesota Student Survey data were provided by public school students in Minnesota via local public school districts and managed by the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey Interagency Team.
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- Emotional health
- Sexual orientation