Supportive Community Resources Are Associated with Lower Risk of Substance Use among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Adolescents in Minnesota

Marla E. Eisenberg, Darin J. Erickson, Amy L. Gower, Len Kne, Ryan J. Watson, Heather L. Corliss, Elizabeth M. Saewyc

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Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-848
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

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Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Community climate
  • School
  • Sexual orientation
  • Substance use

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