5293.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - Board 9

Abstract #2539

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: Understanding available support systems in the high school environment

Corrine E. Munoz-Plaza, MPH, Beacon Program, University of North Carolina Hospitals, Campus Box 7600, 101 Manning Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, 919-966-9314, cmplaza@unch.unc.edu, Sandra C. Quinn, PhD, School of Public Health, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 7400, 305 Rosenau Hall 201, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, and Kathleen A. Rounds, PhD, School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 301 Pittsboro Street 084, Campus Box 3550, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

Recent literature on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth suggests these adolescents are at high risk for suicide, substance abuse, homelessness, prostitution and harassment. High schools play a significant role in shaping the identity of adolescents, thereby making this an invaluable institution for providing critical social and structural supports for youth who are struggling with issues of sexual orientation. Unfortunately, our public schools have overwhelmingly ignored the needs of LGBT students in the past. This qualitative study consists of face-to-face interviews with 12 male and female participants, 18-21 years old, who identify as LGBT. The purpose of the study was to analyze the school-based social networks of the respondents and determine the types of social support available to these young adults in high school. In addition, the study examines the connection between social support and sexual identity development. Overall, participants characterized their high school as providing few support mechanisms for LGBT youth. Homophobic attitudes and perceptions were typically prevalent and tolerated in the school environment. In addition, the social networks of respondents were also significantly limited. However, participants did identify pockets of sympathetic peers, family members and school personnel and most often cited friends as providing emotional support. The participantsí reported experiences in the high school setting highlight the general lack of support for LGBT students and provide suggestions for improving school services.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participant (learner) will be able to: 1) summarize the current research on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth; 2) understand some of the challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth face in the school environment; 3) suggest new strategies for developing school curriculum and services targeting the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA