Queer teens do better with LGBT support groups: study
A recent study has noted the power of LGBT support groups in helping queer adolescents in coping with stress related to sexual orientation. In other words, not knowing you’re alone is still best way to survive as teenager.
The study involved 245 LGBT young adults ages 21-25, which reported on their coping methods when they were teenagers (ages 13-19) in the face of LGB minority stress.
As confirmed by multiple recent studies, this type of stress is due to harassment and results in LGBT teens facing less life satisfaction and more depression as compared to their straight peers.
The study assessed the following strategies: “Validation and reliability was found for three minority stress coping strategies: LGB-specific strategies (e.g., involvement with LGBT organizations), alternative-seeking strategies (e.g., finding new friends), and cognitive strategies (e.g., imagining a better future).”
LGBT support groups key to survival
The study, published in the Journal of Homosexuality, noted that LGBT teens who changed schools or living situations didn’t do as well as teens who linked with LGBT support groups.
The study was conducted by University of Arizona youth development professor Russell Toomey and his co-authors, relying on a sample of people recruited from LGBT organizations near San Francisco.
In their study, those who relied on the support of LGBT-friendly organizations reported greater self-esteem and life satisfaction, as well as smaller chances of being depressed or dropping from school.
The same study found that using “alternative” seeking strategies, like moving to a new school, led to lower self esteem and life satisfaction, more depression, and dropping out from school.
Other “cognitive strategies” like teens distracting themselves from stress by becoming socially isolated or envisioning a better future as an adult wasn’t as effective as well.
“LGB-specific strategies were associated with better psychosocial adjustment and greater likelihood of high school attainment in young adulthood, whereas alternative-seeking and cognitive-based strategies were associated with poorer adjustment and less likelihood of high school attainment,” the study said.
It Gets Better Project is part of LGBT support groups
The study also supported the efforts of the “It Gets Better Project” by debunking news reports that it was ineffective.
Toomey noted that while they didn’t look at the project specifically, they noted that the project acts more as a LGBT-specific resource rather than a cognitive strategy, i.e. a promise that things will improve.
Toomey explained that when LGBT teens read the project stories online, this information could help connect the teens to the broader LGBT community.
“The main takeaway of our study is that LGBT supports are critical,” Toomey said.
In other words, it really does take (an LGBT) community to raise (an LGBT) child.