Graduation Year

January 2013

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Bryan N. Cochran

Faculty Mentor Department

Psychology

Faculty Reader(s)

Duncan G. Campbell

Keywords

School, Alcohol Use, School Belonging, Outness, Religion, Sexual Minority Youth

Subject Categories

Psychology

Abstract

Sexual minority (lesbian, gay, and bisexual) youth are an at-risk group for negative health outcomes; however, investigations into potential protective factors, such as religion, are rarely conducted. Investigations of sexual minority youth who attend schools with religious affiliation, and how attending a religiously-affiliated school may relate to alcohol use and school belonging in this at-risk population, are lacking in the literature. The present study compares descriptive characteristics and “outness” levels of sexual minority youth who attend religious schools to sexual minorities who do not attend religious schools (Objective one), and also investigates if attending religiously-affiliated schools is associated with levels of alcohol use and school belonging among sexual minority youth (Objective two). A sample of 475 sexual minority high school students completed an online survey assessing demographics, high school climate, alcohol use (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, or AUDIT), and school belonging. Participants were matched to a comparison sample to compare AUDIT and school belonging scores. The differences in “outness” between groups were tested using chi-square analysis, and after matching participants, two independent samples t tests were conducted on AUDIT scores and School Belonging scores.

Sexual minorities attending religiously-affiliated schools had significantly higher AUDIT scores and decreased high school “outness” levels than their nonreligious school-attending counterparts, but attendance at a religiously-affiliated school had no significant association with school belonging. According to the minority stress hypothesis by Meyer (2003) concealment of sexual orientation can lead to increased stress, which can result in increased alcohol use. This hypothesis may help to explain the elevated co-occurring levels of alcohol use and concealment. If sexual minority youth who attend religiously-affiliated schools are facing increased minority stress above and beyond the health disparities already present within this at-risk population, then future research is needed in this area to document the risks involved with attendance at such schools as a sexual minority.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

Included in

Psychology Commons

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© Copyright 2013 Brandon Stewart