The link between LGBTQ-supportive communities, progressive political climate, and suicidality among sexual minority adolescents in Canada

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite supportive structural changes to reduce stigma towards lesbian, gay, and bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) Canadian residents, sexual minority youth still face disparities compared to heterosexual peers. We aimed to characterize LGBTQ-supportive environments and political climates, and examine their links to suicidal behavior among sexual minority adolescents in western Canada. Data were from the 2013 British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey, a cluster-stratified random cross-sectional survey of public school students in BC, Canada; We sampled 2678 self-identified LGB and mostly heterosexual students (69% girls) from 274 schools, representing an estimated provincial population of 24,624 sexual minority students in weighted models. Student reports of past-year suicidal ideation, suicidal attempts, and self-harm behaviors were merged with community-level data assessing diverse aspects of LGBTQ-supportive resources and progressive political climates in communities surrounding the schools. Adjusted multilevel models showed that for sexual minority adolescent girls, higher community LGBTQ-supportiveness predicted marginally significant lower suicidal ideation (aOR = 0.94, 95% CI [0.88, 1.01]) and suicidal attempts (aOR = 0.91, 95% CI [0.83, 1.00]) and significantly lower self-harm behaviors (aOR = 0.91, 95% CI [0.85, 0.98]). Further, progressive political climates predicted marginally significant lower suicidal ideation (aOR = 0.89, 95% CI [0.78, 1.02]) and significantly lower self-harm behaviors (aOR = 0.87, 95% CI [0.77, 0.99]). For sexual minority adolescent boys, no community-level variables were associated with suicidal behavior in adjusted models. Thus, LGBTQ-supportive communities and progressive political climates appear to be protective against suicidal behavior among sexual minority adolescent girls, but not sexual minority adolescent boys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106191
JournalPreventive medicine
Volume139
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding 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 (PI: MEE). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. These analyses were also supported in part by grants CPP-86374 and MOP-119472 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (PI: EMS). The authors acknowledge the McCreary Centre Society, Vancouver, BC, Canada, for permission to access the 2013 British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey data. The authors also thank Monica Shannon for collecting, cleaning, and coding data for the LGBTQ-Supportive Environments Inventory, Dr. Jennifer Wolowic for project coordination in British Columbia, and Len Kne for pooling geographic data from Statistics Canada. Preliminary results of these analyses were presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence meeting on 12 April 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • BCAHS
  • LGBTQ-supportive environment
  • Project RESPEQT
  • Sexual minority youth
  • Structural stigma
  • Suicide

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