Effects of Family and Friend Support on LGB Youths' Mental Health and Sexual Orientation Milestones

By Shilo, Guy; Savaya, Riki | Family Relations, July 2011 | Go to article overview

Effects of Family and Friend Support on LGB Youths' Mental Health and Sexual Orientation Milestones


Shilo, Guy, Savaya, Riki, Family Relations


This study examined the effects of social support components and providers on mental health and sexual orientation (SO) milestones of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths. Data were collected on 461 self-identified LGB adolescents and young adults. Family acceptance and support yielded the strongest positive effect on self-acceptance of SO, whereas friends' support and acceptance yielded the strongest positive effect on disclosure of SO. Family support had the strongest negative effect on youth's mental distress, whereas friends' and family support had the strongest positive effect on well-being. These findings highlight the importance of the daily perceptions of LGB youth within social and familial settings, indicating that both positive and negative aspects of support affect youths' mental health and identity development.

Key Words: family support, family undermining, friend support, identity development, mental health, sexual minority youth.

Study on sexual minority youths during the past 20 years has documented serious mental health disparities between lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youths and their heterosexual counterparts (D'Augelli, 2006; Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009). These include higher rates of mental distress, suicide ideation, victimization, and substance abuse as a result of the social stigma and negative societal responses (e.g., Bradford, Ryan, & Rothblum, 1994; D'Augelli; Gibson, 1994; Hershberger & D'Augelli, 1999). Although LGB youths today disclose their sexual orientation (SO) in growing numbers and at earlier ages than previously (Herdt & Boxer, 1993; Savin-Williams, 2005), surprisingly little research has examined the effects of family and peer support on their mental health. Furthermore, although literature on SO formation and experiences of sexual minority youth emphasize the substantial effect of social support on mental health (D'Augelli; Ryan et al.), little attention has been paid to the different aspects of such support. The current study tries to fill this gap by investigating the differential effects of social support and social acceptance by family and heterosexual friends on LGB adolescents' and young adults' acceptance and disclosure of their SO and their mental health.

SOCIAL SUPPORT IN THE LIVES OF SEXUAL MINORITY YOUTH

Recent studies have linked minority stress, defined as stress caused to socially disadvantaged groups by their experience and internalization of victimization and negative life events, with negative mental health outcomes among LGB adults (Meyer, 2003). On the basis of social stress theory (Dressier, Oths, & Gravlee, 2005; Pearlin, 1989), minority stress theory maintains that both distal stressors (reflecting the degree of heterosexism in the environment) as well as proximal stressors (expectations of rejection, hiding SO from others, and internalization of societal heterosexist attitudes) affect sexual minorities' mental health (Meyer, 2003, 2007). The theory also maintains that the impact of these stressors can be alleviated by the coping resources available to the LGB individual (Meyer, 2003). Testing the minority stress model, Meyer (2003, 2007) found social support to be a source of strength for LGB adults, buffering the impact of minority stress stemming from their SO. Yet, although social support may be a source of strength for LGB adults, it may be a source of stress to LGB youths, who are in the process of consolidating their SO (D'Augelli, 2006). Life experiences and SO development of LGB youth are often characterized by efforts to seek personal and social affirmation of their identity (Cass, 1996; D'Augelli). The consolidation of their SO, manifested in developmental milestones such as self-acceptance of SO and disclosing it to significant others, reflects LGB youths' psychological adjustment to their identity (Elizur & Mintzer, 2001; Savin- Williams, 2005). The fact that sexual minority youth contend with victimization in homophobic environments makes social support a key factor in this process, affecting both their mental health and self-acceptance (Anderson, 1998; Elizur & Mintzer; Floyd, Stein, Harter, Allison, & Nye, 1999; Vincke & Van-Heeringen, 2004). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Effects of Family and Friend Support on LGB Youths' Mental Health and Sexual Orientation Milestones
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.