Purpose: Drawing from minority stress and risk and protective factor frameworks, this study examines how school and community-based organized activities are associated with the connectedness, happiness, and health of Black and LatinX LGBTQ adolescents and young adults.
Methods: Data were drawn from a panel of Black and LatinX LGBTQ adolescents and young adults (n=542) from the Social Justice Sexuality Survey (SJS), one of the largest national surveys of LGBTQ people of color. Participants reported their enrollment in school, participation in religious activities, and participation in six different community-based organized activities: LGBTQ political groups, LGBTQ social groups, BIPOC political groups, BIPOC social groups, combined LGBTQ-BIPOC social groups, combined LGBTQ-BIPOC political groups. Multiple imputation with chained equations was used to address missing data, and multiple regression was used to assess the association of school and organized activities with connectedness to the LGBTQ community (3 items, α = .77), happiness (4 items, α = .90) and general health (1 item), after controlling for race/ethnicity, gender identity, age, income, and urbanicity.
Results: Findings suggest several unique and conflicting patterns of association between community activities and outcomes. Specifically, participation in LGBTQ social groups (B=.16) and combined LGBTQ-BIPOC social groups (B=.23) was associated with greater LGBTQ-connectedness, whereas participation in BIPOC social groups (B=-.14) was associated with lower LGBTQ connectedness. However, only religious activities had significant associations with happiness (B=.04) and health (B=.05). Student status was not significantly associated with any outcomes, after adjusting for other factors. Notably, across the outcomes, gender-variant individuals often reported lower LGBTQ-connectedness, happiness and health.
Implications: This study raises important questions about the role of community-based organized activities in the connectedness, happiness, and health of Black and LatinX LGBTQ individuals. First, the lack of significant association of school with outcomes may reflect the variation in how welcoming and supportive educational institutions can be of LGBTQ individuals. Second, the importance of LGBTQ and combined LGBTQ-BIPOC social groups for connectedness suggests such activities may be important pathways to fostering social connectedness among these marginalized groups. Third, contrary to some narratives, religious activities may play an important role in the health and happiness of Black and LatinX LGBTQ individuals. Social workers might more explicitly seek out these organized activities as important sources of social support for these marginalized groups. Doing so may enhance the connectedness, happiness, and health of Black and LatinX LGBTQ individuals, and advance racial and social justice for these historically marginalized groups.