Research has indicated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer/questioning (LGBQ) adolescents have disproportionately high rates of substance use compared to heterosexual peers; yet certain features of schools and communities have been associated with lower substance use rates in this population. To advance this field, research examining multiple levels of influence using measures developed with youth input is needed. With community, school, and student data, this study tested hypotheses that LGBQ students attending high schools and living in communities with more LGBQ-supportive environments (assessed with a novel inventory tool) have lower odds of substance use behaviors (cigarette smoking, alcohol use, marijuana use, prescription drug misuse, and other drug use) than their peers in less supportive LGBQ environments. Multilevel models using data from 2454 LGBQ students (54.0% female, 63.9% non-Hispanic white) in 81 communities and adjusting for student and school covariates found that LGBQ adolescents who lived in areas with more community support had lower odds of frequent substance use, particularly among females. Expanding and strengthening community resources (e.g., LGBQ youth-serving organizations, LGBQ events such as a Pride parade, and LGBQ-friendly services) is recommended to further support LGBQ adolescents and reduce substance use disparities.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HD078470. Watson acknowledges support from the National Institute of Drug Abuse under Award Number K01DA047918. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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- Community climate
- Sexual orientation
- Substance use