The relation between “outness” and resilience among sexual minority youth: the moderating effects of family support
Heath, Cody R.
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Sexual minority youth (12 to 18 years old) are an at-risk population for negative life occurrences related to negative peer interaction, mental illness, risk behaviors, and disconnection from their families. Literature suggests that internal and external protective factors (e.g., family support) are associated with decreased risk behaviors, whereas non-support when coming out is associated with increased risk behaviors. Understanding a family’s ability to foster resilience in their sexual minority youth could enhance existing research by understanding how to enhance sexual minority youths’ well-being and by decoupling the notion that risk is inherent to identifying as a sexual minority. Further, coming out is an important milestone for sexual minorities because it indicates a quality of comfort of one’s identity. Therefore, the researcher tested level of outness and age of coming out in relation to internal and external resilience and the moderating role of current family support among sexual minority youth. This dissertation utilized self-report measures of coming out, family support, and internal and external resilience among sexual minority youth (12-18-years old). It was hypothesized that level of outness would be positively associated with external and internal resilience; additionally, family support would moderate this association such that there would be a stronger positive association when family support was high. Also, it was hypothesized that the average age participants came out to different social groups would be negatively associated with external or internal resilience; additionally, family support would moderate this association such that there would be a stronger negative association when family support was high. Participants were 98 sexual minority youth who completed the Developmental Assets Profile assessment of internal and external assets of resilience. Regression analyses indicated level of outness was not significantly associated with internal or external resilience; however, a significant interaction was found between level of outness and family support in that the greatest external resilience was indicated when participants were out to all groups and family support was high. This interaction between level of outness and family support predicting internal resilience was not significant. Contrary to the hypotheses, average age of coming out was not significantly associated with internal or external resilience nor were there significant interactions between average age of coming out and family support. Notably, gender and family support were significantly associated with internal and external resilience. This study is among the first in current literature to examine resilience with family support and coming out. These findings are valuable to any facility, program, or mental health professional serving sexual minority youth. Lastly, these results yield discussion about the clinical implications of serving sexual minority people who feel less than affirmed or unsupported by their family. Implications and limitations are discussed.