255581 High school gay-straight alliances are associated with reduced risk for substance use among sexual minority youth

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nicholas Heck, MA , Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Beryl Clark , Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Brandon Stewart , Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Christopher Brennan , Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Niccole Dusek , Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Nicholas Livingston, BS , Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Annesa Flentje, Ph.D. , Department of Psychiatry, The University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Bryan Cochran, PhD , Department of Psychology, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Background: Previous research suggests that attending a high school with a gay-straight alliance (GSA) is associated with reduced risk for suicide, school victimization, and alcohol misuse among sexual minority youth. In the present study, we investigate whether attending a high school with GSA is associated with lower risk for illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse.

Methods: This study queries sexual minority high school students via an online survey and collects data regarding their community environment, family relationships, mental health, school experiences, and substance use. Currently, 402 sexual minority high school students have completed the survey; data collection is ongoing. Participants are 51.7% female, 40.8% male, and 7.5% transgender; 282 are attending a school with a GSA.

Results: Preliminary results indicate that youth attending schools with GSAs evidence lower risk for having used any illicit drug (odds ratio [OR] = .613, 95% confidence interval [CI] = .398 .944), cocaine (OR = .366, CI = .162 .867), hallucinogens (OR = .470, CI = .233 1.757), and marijuana (OR = .594, CI = .382 923). In addition, these youth evidenced lower risk for the misuse of prescription stimulants (OR = .439, CI = .234 .823), anxiety medications (OR = .396, CI = .211 .742), and pain medications (OR = .512, CI = .293 .897).

Discussion: This is the first study to demonstrate an association between attending a high school with a GSA and lower risk for drug use. Once data collection is complete, additional analyses will investigate whether differences in risk exist between GSA members and non-members. Implications for educational policy and limitations of the study will be addressed.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe predictors of lifetime illicit drug use among sexual minority youth and discuss benefits associated with attending a high school with a gay-straight student alliance in relation to reduced risk for illicit drug use.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Substance Abuse

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have published in the area of LGBT mental health. I am responsible for all aspects of the present study (e.g., conceptualization, recruitment of participants, data analysis, etc.). My primary area of interest involves identifying school programs and policies that promote favorable academic, mental health, and substance use outcomes among sexual minority youth.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.