142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

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Using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to Explain the Mediating Effect of Self-Acceptance on Psychological Distress Due to Heterosexist Discrimination among LGBQ College Students

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Michael Woodford, PhD , Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work, Wifrid Laurier University, Faculty of Social Work, Kitchener, ON, Canada
Brandy Sinco, MS , School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Alex Kulick, BA , College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Jun Sung Hong, PhD , School of Social Work, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Background: Few studies have examined the effects of contemporary heterosexism - both overt and subtle forms. We investigated the role of heterosexist discrimination on psychological distress among LGBQ college students, and the mediating role of self-acceptance.  

Methods: We recruited LGBQ college students through online networks to complete a web-survey (n=299).  We conducted SEM to examine hypothesized relationships. Discrimination was measured as overt sexual-orientation victimization, LGBQ interpersonal microaggressions, and LGBQ environmental microaggressions, and was adjusted for demographics. The self-acceptance factor included Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem index and Internalized LGBQ Pride. Anxiety and perceived stress comprised the psychological distress factor. 

Results: Younger students and those with greater atypical gender expression reported more heterosexist discrimination. The increase in discrimination by degree of atypical gender expression did not differ significantly by respondent gender.  Self-acceptance mediated the path from discrimination to distress. The direct path coefficient from discrimination to distress was 0.42(p<.01). The coefficient from discrimination to self-acceptance was -0.46(p<.0001), and the coefficient from self-acceptance to distress was -0.94(p<.0001). Although the positive product of these mediating coefficients (-0.46, -0.94) suggests that more discrimination leads to greater distress, the negative coefficient from self-acceptance to distress indicates that greater self-acceptance lowers psychological distress.

The model indices indicated good absolute and incremental fit, parsimony, and predictive ability; AGFI=0.99, CFI=0.97, RMSEA=0.056 (.038, .074), SRMR=0.046.

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the importance of fostering self-acceptance among LGBQ students as a protective factor against the negative effects of discrimination. Campus-based discrimination prevention programs need to address gender expression and target younger students.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe the nature of contemporary heterosexism on campus and its influence on psychological distress among LGBQ college students. Analyze the mediating power of self-acceptance on this relationship.

Keyword(s): Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been principal investigator on studies examining the influence of various aspects of campus climate on the health, mental health, and academic success of sexual and gender minority college students. Woodford also conducts HIV/AIDS prevention research among men who have sex with men and other vulnerable groups. Earlier work examined the use of participatory policymaking to develop policies responsive to the needs of marginalized groups.
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.

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