Intersections of discrimination and the prospective mental health of LGB youth and adults




Mallory, Allen Burnell Sears

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Discrimination is a persistent risk factor for compromised mental health among sexual minority people. However, few studies examine the long-term implications of experiencing discrimination tied to multiple identities (e.g. race, gender, and sexual orientation) for the mental health of sexual minority youth (SMY) and adults. This dissertation included two studies that explored how discrimination tied to multiple identities was associated with the prospective mental health of SMY and adults. Both studies tested three intersectional hypotheses: the additive (i.e. multiple forms of discrimination incrementally worsen mental health), inuring (i.e. discrimination does not worsen mental health beyond one form), and multiplicative hypotheses (i.e. experiencing two forms of discrimination worsen mental health twice s as much as one form). Participants in Study 1 were a community sample of 478 SMY (ages 15-21) of color. Study 1 examined the overlap in LGB victimization and racial discrimination and their associations with depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation over three years. In Study 2, participants were from a national probability sample of 1,518 LGB adults (ages 18-60) from three generations. Study 2 examined if attributions to discrimination were associated with psychological distress over two years. In Study 1, the results supported the multiplicative hypothesis for depressive symptoms. The intersection of racial discrimination and LGB victimization was associated with higher baseline depressive symptoms, and steeper declines in depressive symptoms. For suicidal ideation, racial discrimination and LGB victimization were independently associated with suicidal ideation, which supported the additive hypothesis. In Study 2, similar results were found, but they differed by dimension of discrimination—the multiplicative hypothesis was supported for baseline psychological distress when the number of contexts of discrimination was measured, and it was supported for the slope of psychological distress when the frequency of discrimination was measured. Lastly, the association between discrimination and psychological distress was stronger in the young compared to the older generation. The results from this dissertation provided novel information about the prospective associations between the overlap of multiple forms of discrimination and mental health for LGB youth and adults


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