Homophobic Bullying and Sexual Minority Youth Alcohol Use: Do Sex and Race/Ethnicity Matter?

Amanda M. Pollitt, Allen B. Mallory, Jessica N. Fish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Sexual minority youth (SMY) are more likely to use alcohol than their heterosexual peers, yet a lack of research on within-group differences and modifiable mechanisms has hindered efforts to address alcohol use disparities. The purpose of the current study was to examine differences in the mediating role of homophobic bullying on the association between sexual orientation identity and drinking frequency and heavy episodic drinking frequency by sex and race/ethnicity. Methods: We used data from a subsample of 20,744 youth in seven states from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a population-based data set of 9-12th grade high school students in the United States. We included youth who self-identified as male or female; heterosexual, lesbian/gay, bisexual, or unsure of their sexual orientation identity; and White, Black, or Latino. Results: Within-group comparisons demonstrated that SMY alcohol use disparities were concentrated among Latino bisexual and unsure youth. All subgroups of SMY at the intersection of race/ethnicity and sex were more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to report homophobic bullying. Homophobic bullying mediated alcohol use disparities for some, but not all, subgroups of SMY. Conclusion: Homophobic bullying is a serious risk factor for SMY alcohol use, although youths' multiple identities may differentiate degrees of risk. Sexual orientation identity-related disparities in alcohol use among Latino, bisexual, and unsure youth were not fully attenuated when adjusted for homophobic bullying, which suggests that there may be additional factors that contribute to rates of alcohol use among these specific subgroups of SMY.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-420
Number of pages9
JournalLGBT Health
Volume5
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • alcoholism
  • bullying
  • race/ethnicity
  • sex
  • sexual minorities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology

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