142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Intersectional Wellness: The Relationship of Sexual Identity, Racial Identity, and Community Participation to Happiness

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

Michelle Marie Johns, MPH , Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Jorge Soler, MPH , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Matthew Patrick Shaw, JD , Quantitative Policy Analysis in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA
Kerith Conron, ScD, MPH , The Fenway Institute, Boston, MA
Experiencing sexuality-related stigma and discrimination deteriorates LGBT people’s mental wellness, while participation in LGBT communities offers identity support that can improve wellness.  Unfortunately, LGBT community participation may not affirm people of all racial groups.  Intersectionality theory stresses that wellness must be understood in the context of interlocking systems of oppression.  “Mainstream” LGBT communities may be predominantly White, and thus reflect norms of behavior that marginalize and oppress LGBT people of color (PoC).  Accordingly, participating in other communities of identity specific to PoC or LGBT PoC may be more central to mental wellness for LGBT PoC.  Little quantitative work exists exploring how participation in different communities of identity relates to mental wellness for LGBT people across racial groups.  Using data from the Social Justice and Sexuality Survey (n=3,932), we examined the relationship between participation in communities of identity ((1) LGBT, (2) PoC, (3) LGBT PoC) and mental wellness (i.e., dichotomized happiness scale, 0 = below median of happiness, 1 = above median of happiness) through a series of multivariate logistic regressions. We found participation in all communities of identity increased an individual’s probability of happiness (LGBT Community OR=1.175; PoC Community OR= 1.136; LGBT PoC Community OR=1.147).  Taking an intersectional perspective, we then examined how social identity (Race x Sexual Identity) modified these relationships.  We found all three relationships between community participation and happiness were strongest among LGBT PoC.  We discuss the importance of communities of identity for the mental wellness LGBT PoC and suggest Public Health strategies to bolster these communities.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the importance of examining indicators of mental wellness (i.e., happiness) for LGBT populations in addition to traditional mental distress (i.e., depression, anxiety) indicators. Identify the types of community participation for LGBT people of diverse racial identities. Describe how the relationship between community participation and mental wellness varies for LGBT people of diverse racial identities.

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 am a fourth year doctoral student in the department of Health Behavior and Health Education at University of Michigan. I have been involved in many federally funded research studies focused on the health of LGBT populations, and have co-authored multiple research manuscripts on the health and well being of LGBT people. I am specifically interested in innovative, asset-based approaches to LGBT health.
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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