Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 105–116 | Cite as

Emotional Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Questioning Bullies: Does It Differ from Straight Bullies?

  • Marla E. Eisenberg
  • Amy L. Gower
  • Barbara J. McMorris
Empirical Research


Research demonstrates that young people involved in bullying are at greater risk for poor emotional health outcomes, but this association may not be consistent for youth of different sexual orientations. Understanding the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) youth may suggest important opportunities for intervention and prevention. This study, therefore, examines whether involvement with bullying is differentially associated with emotional well-being across sexual orientation. Survey data were collected from a large statewide sample of 9th and 11th grade students in 2013 (N = 79,039, 49.8 % female, 74.6 % white). Logistic regression tested associations between sexual orientation, physical or relational bullying perpetration and five measures of emotional health. In the full sample, those reporting bullying perpetration had significantly elevated odds of emotional health problems. However, interaction terms and stratified models indicated that in nine out of ten physical bullying models and two out of ten relational bullying models, perpetration was not as strongly associated with poor emotional health among LGBQ adolescents as it was among heterosexual youth. Possible explanations for this finding include unhealthy coping strategies or masking one’s own vulnerable status as LGBQ. Continued efforts to prevent bullying are needed for all youth.


Bullying Emotional health Suicide Sexual orientation 



This study is funded by Grant R40 MC 26815 (Marla Eisenberg, Principal Investigator) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program. Dr. Gower’s time was supported by Grant #T32HP22239 (Iris Borowsky, Principal Investigator) from a National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care. Minnesota Student Survey data were provided by public school students in Minnesota via local public school districts and managed by the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey Interagency Team.

Authors contributions

M. E. conceptualized the study, conducted analysis and drafted the manuscript. B. M. and A. G. managed the data, created study variables, and conducted additional statistical analyses. All authors assisted with interpretation of findings and critical revision of the manuscript. All authors have reviewed and given approval of the submitted manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marla E. Eisenberg
    • 1
  • Amy L. Gower
    • 1
  • Barbara J. McMorris
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, Department of PediatricsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.School of Nursing, University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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