Abstract: Exploring the Intersections of Minority Stress and Resilience Among Sexual and Gender Minority Youth of Color (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Exploring the Intersections of Minority Stress and Resilience Among Sexual and Gender Minority Youth of Color

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Liberty Ballroom N, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Gio Iacono, PhD, MSW, RSW, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT
Breana Bietsch, MSW, PHD Student, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT
Background & Purpose: Sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY), particularly SGMY of color, experience disproportionate health and mental health disparities, and are often overlooked in social work practice and research (Russell & Fish, 2016; Paley, 2020). In addition, according to the empirically-supported Minority Stress Theory model (MST: Meyer, 2003), SGMY experience disproportionate amounts of stress compared to non-SGMY as a result of anti-LGBTQ+ stigma and discrimination, with racialized SGMY holding even greater vulnerabilities to intersectional minority stressors (Paley, 2020; Taylor et al., 2011). According to resiliency theories, ethnoracial minorities have experienced racism prior to coming out as LGBTQ+, and resilience among LGBTQ+ people of color may help buffer the health and mental health impacts of general and minority stressors (Meyer, 2010; Meyer et al., 2008). This study aims to intersectionally explore nuances of resilience in relation to minority stress, LGBTQ+ and ethnoracial identities among SGMY, particularly SGMY of color.

Methods: A survey tool was developed, in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign, which included SGMY (n = 12,005) ages 13-17. Participants reported diverse gender identities: female (42%), non-binary (10%), male (20%), trans boy (14%), trans girl (2%), genderqueer (8%), other (4%). Sexual orientation: gay/lesbian (37%), queer (4%), bisexual (34%), pansexual (14%), asexual (5%), questioning (2%), straight (2%), and other (2.1%); and diverse ethnoracial identities: white (62%), Black (6%), American Indian/Alaska Native (1%), Latinx (11%), Asian/Pacific Islander (4%) and other identity (1%). There were 15% of respondents who identified as more than one ethnoracial identity. Sexuality/gender and race/ethnicity identities were cross-tabulated with stress, controlling for identities.

Results: Cisgender, assigned males at birth (AMAB) were less likely to be stressed on average compared to cisgender assigned females at birth (AFAB). AFAB who are transgender were significantly less likely to be able to manage their stress compared to cisgender respondents. Regardless of sexual, gender and ethnoracial identities, the less stress experienced on average, the more likely respondents were better able to manage their stress. Cisgender AMAB/AFAB SGMY were overall significantly more likely to be able to manage stress better. Of the above analyses, there were no significant differences in managing stress levels when controlling for ethnoracial identity. However, SGMY who identified as “other” race reported significantly more stress compared to all other racial categories.

Conclusions & Implications: These findings suggest the importance of addressing stress, particularly minority stressors, and well-being among LGBTQ+ youth populations in general. Results of this study also suggest stress is more difficult to manage for some LGBTQ+ identities. Additionally, when controlling for race/ethnicity, the results suggest that there were no major significant differences in stress levels when comparing SGMY of color with white SGMY, suggesting potential resilience factors according to MST (Meyer 2010). Further research on resilience and minority stress among SGMY of color should include exploring nuances and potential mechanisms of resilience. These nuances may also provide insight into the strengths and challenges that SGMY of color experience, and inform social work theory and practice.