Understanding Risk and Resilience for Sexual Minority Emerging Adults: a Longitudinal Outlook on Minority Stress, Mental Health, and Academic Perseverance

Abstract

Mental health symptoms are highly prevalent during emerging adulthood. During that developmental stage, some subgroups are at even higher risk of experiencing adjustment difficulties. Sexual minority emerging adults are more vulnerable to such difficulties than their heterosexual peers. The minority stress framework (Meyer, Psychol Sex Orientat Gend Divers 1:3–26, 2013) has been developed in order to provide insight on the greater risk of mental health symptoms that sexual minority emerging adults face, yet no theoretical model has explored simultaneously and longitudinally the different adjustment difficulties they face. Inspired by Meyer’s (Psychol Sex Orientat Gend Divers 1:3–26, 2013) framework, the present study aims to understand the specific personal and environmental risk and protective factors associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms and with academic difficulties experienced by sexual minority emerging adults.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. APA. (2015). How educators can support families with gender diverse and sexual minority youth: Informational guide. In APA (Ed.), Promoting Resiliency for Gender Diverse and Sexual Minority Students in Schools. Washington, DC: School Psychology and Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

  2. APSC. (1998). Inventaire de dépression de Beck - Traduction française. Paris : Les Éditions du Centre de psychologie appliquée.

  3. Arnett, J. J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. American Psychologist, 55(5), 469–480.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Arnett, J. J., Žukauskienė, R., & Sugimura, K. (2014). The new life stage of emerging adulthood at ages 18–29 years: Implications for mental health. The Lancet Psychiatry, 1(7), 569–576.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Beaulieu-Prévost, D., & Fortin, M. (2015). The measurement of sexual orientation: Historical background and current practices. Sexologies, 24(1), 15–19.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Beck, A. T., Epstein, N., Brown, G., & Steer, R. A. (1988). An inventory for measuring clinical anxiety: Psychometric properties. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56(6), 893–897.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., Ball, R., & Ranieri, W. (1996). Comparison of Beck depression inventories – IA and II in psychiatric outpatients. Journal of Personnality Assessment, 67(3), 588–597.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Birkett, M., Espelage, D. L., & Koenig, B. (2009). LGB and questioning students in schools: The moderating effects of homophobic bullying and school climate on negative outcomes. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(7), 989–1000. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-008-9389-1.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. Borgogna, N. C., McDermott, R. C., Aita, S. L., & Kridel, M. M. (2018). Anxiety and depression across gender and sexual minorities: Implications for transgender, gender nonconforming, pansexual, demisexual, asexual, queer, and questioning individuals. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 6(1), 54–63.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bos, H. M., Sandfort, T. G., De Bruyn, E. H., & Hakvoort, E. M. (2008). Same-sex attraction, social relationships, psychosocial functioning, and school performance in early adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 44(1), 59–68.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Boucher, K., Blais, M., Hébert, M., Gervais, J., Banville-Côté, C., & Bédard, I. (2013). La victimisation homophobe et liée à la non-conformité de genre et l’adaptation scolaire et psychosociale chez les 14–22 ans : Résultats d’une enquête québécoise. Recherches & Educations, 8(1), 83–98.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Braxton, J. M., Doyle, W. R., Hartley III, H. V., Hirschy, A. S., Jones, W. A., & McLendon, M. K. (2013). Rethinking college student retention. San Francisco: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Carpenter, C. S. (2009). Sexual orientation and outcomes in college. Economics of Education Review, 28(6), 693–703.

    Google Scholar 

  15. D'Augello, R., & Grossman, H. (2001). Disclosure of sexual orientation, victimization, and mental health among lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 16(10), 1008–1027. https://doi.org/10.1177/088626001016010003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Deroma, V. M., Leach, J. B., & Leverett, P. J. (2009). The relationship between depression and college academic performance. College Student Journal, 43(2), 325–334.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dharma, C., & Bauer, G. R. (2017). Understanding sexual orientation and health in Canada: Who are we capturing and who are we missing using the Statistics Canada sexual orientation question? Canadian Journal of Public Health, 108(1), 21–26.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Diamond, L. M. (2008). Sexual fluidity: Understanding women's love and desire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Diaz, R. M., Ayala, G., Bein, E., Henne, J., & Marin, B. V. (2001). The impact of homophobia, poverty, and racism on the mental health of gay and bisexual Latino men: Findings from 3 US cities. American Journal of Public Health, 91(6), 927–932.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  20. Dillon, F. R., Worthington, R. L., & Moradi, B. (2011). Sexual identity as a universal process. In Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 649–670). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Durso, L. E., & Meyer, I. H. (2013). Patterns and predictors of disclosure of sexual orientation to healthcare providers among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 10(1), 35–42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-012-0105-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Farrington, D. P., Ttofi, M. M., & Piquero, A. R. (2016). Risk, promotive, and protective factors in youth offending: Results from the Cambridge study in delinquent development. Journal of Criminal Justice, 45, 63–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2016.02.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Frable, D. E., Wortman, C., & Joseph, J. (1997). Predicting self-esteem, well-being, and distress in a cohort of gay men: The importance of cultural stigma, personal visibility, community networks, and positive identity. Journal of Personality, 65(3), 599–624.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Freeston, M., Ladouceur, R., Thibodeau, N., Gagnon, F., & Rheaume, J. (1994). The Beck anxiety inventory: Psychometric properties of a French translation. L'Encephale, 20(1), 47–55.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Garnets, L., & Kimmel, D. (1991). Lesbian and gay male dimensions in the psychological study of human diversity. In J. D. Goodchilds (Ed.), Master lectures in psychology: Psychological perspectives on human diversity in America (pp. 137–189). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Garvey, J. C., Squire, D. D., Stachler, B., & Rankin, S. (2018). The impact of campus climate on queer-spectrum student academic success. Journal of LGBT Youth, 15(2), 89–105. https://doi.org/10.1080/19361653.2018.1429978.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Geary, R. S., Tanton, C., Erens, B., Clifton, S., Prah, P., Wellings, K., Mitchell, K. R., Datta, J., Gravningen, K., Fuller, E., Johnson, A. M., Sonnenberg, P., & Mercer, C. H. (2018). Sexual identity, attraction and behaviour in Britain: The implications of using different dimensions of sexual orientation to estimate the size of sexual minority populations and inform public health interventions. PLoS One, 13(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189607.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Grant, J. E., Odlaug, B. L., Derbyshire, K., Schreiber, L. R., Lust, K., & Christenson, G. (2014). Mental health and clinical correlates in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer young adults. Journal of American College Health, 62(1), 75–78.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Hall, J. S., & Zautra, A. J. (2010). Indicators of community resilience: What are they, why bother? In J. W. Reich, A. J. Zautra, & J. S. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience (pp. 350–371). New York: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2009). How does sexual minority stigma “get under the skin”? A psychological mediation framework. Psychological Bulletin, 135(5), 707–730.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. Herek, G. M. (2015). Beyond “homophobia”: Thinking more clearly about stigma, prejudice, and sexual orientation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(5S), 29–37.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Hershberger, S. L., & D'Augelli, A. R. (1995). The impact of victimization on the mental health and suicidality of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths. Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 65–74. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.31.1.65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hong, J. S., & Espelage, D. L. (2012). A review of research on bullying and peer victimization in school: An ecological system analysis. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17(4), 311–322.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Johns, M. M., Zimmerman, M., & Bauermeister, J. A. (2013). Sexual attraction, sexual identity, and psychosocial wellbeing in a national sample of young women during emerging adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(1), 82–95.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Kazdin, A. E. (1995). Conduct disorders in childhood and adolescence. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Kessler, R. C., Birnbaum, H., Demler, O., Falloon, I. R., Gagnon, E., Guyer, M., et al. (2005). The prevalence and correlates of nonaffective psychosis in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Biological Psychiatry, 58(8), 668–676.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. LimeSurvey. (2017). LimeSurvey: An open source survey tool. Germany: Hamburg.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Little, T. D. (2013). Longitudinal structural equation modeling. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Lourie, M. A., & Needham, B. L. (2017). Sexual orientation discordance and young adult mental health. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(5), 943–954. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0553-8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Mancini, O. (2011). Attrition risk and resilience among sexual minority college students. Columbia Academic Commons, 2(1), 8–22.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Marshal, M. P., Dietz, L. J., Friedman, M. S., Stall, R., Smith, H. A., McGinley, J., Thoma, B. C., Murray, P. J., D'Augelli, A. R., & Brent, D. A. (2011). Suicidality and depression disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 49(2), 115–123.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Martin-Storey, A., & Crosnoe, R. (2012). Sexual minority status, peer harassment, and adolescent depression. Journal of Adolescence, 35(4), 1001–1011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.02.006.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  43. Masten, A. S. (2007). Resilience in developing systems: Progress and promise as the fourth wave rises. Development and Psychopathology, 19(3), 921–930. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579407000442.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Mays, V. M., & Cochran, S. D. (2001). Mental health correlates of perceived discrimination among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 91(11), 1869–1876.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  45. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 674–697.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  46. Meyer, I. H. (2013). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1, 3–26.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Meyer, I. H. (2015). Resilience in the study of minority stress and health of sexual and gender minorities. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2(3), 209.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Meyer, I. H., & Dean, L. (1998). Internalized homophobia, intimacy, and sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men. Psychological Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Issues, 4, 160–186.

    Google Scholar 

  49. MHCC. (2016). Advancing the mental health strategy for Canada: A framework for action (2017–2022). Ottawa: Mental Health Commission of Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Miller, C. T., & Major, B. (2000). Coping with stigma and prejudice. In T. F. Heatherton, R. E. Kleck, M. R. Hebl, & J. G. Hull (Eds.), The social psychology of stigma (pp. 243–272). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2017). Mplus user's guide (8th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.

    Google Scholar 

  52. NIH. (2011). The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. OECD. (2013). Education at a glance: OECD indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Ozaki, C. C. (2016). College impact theories past and present. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2016(174), 23–33.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Pachankis, J. E., & Bränström, R. (2018). Hidden from happiness: Structural stigma, sexual orientation concealment, and life satisfaction across 28 countries. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(5), 403–415. https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000299.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. Pachankis, J., & Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2013). The social development of contingent self-worth in sexual minority young men: An empirical investigation of the “best little boy in the world” hypothesis. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 35(2), 176–190.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Pettit, J. W., Roberts, R. E., Lewinsohn, P. M., Seeley, J. R., & Yaroslavsky, I. (2011). Developmental relations between perceived social support and depressive symptoms through emerging adulthood: Blood is thicker than water. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(1), 127–136. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022320.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  58. Procidano, M. E. and Heller, K. (1983). Measures of perceived social support from friends and from family and three validation studies. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11 (1):1–24.

  59. Rankin, S., Weber, G. N., Blumenfeld, W. J., & Frazer, S. (2010). 2010 state of higher education for lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender people. Charlotte: Campus Pride.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Richards, D., Gateri, H., & Massaquoi, N. (2018). The effects of intersectional stigma and discrimination on the mental well-being of black, LBQ, female youth 18–25 years old. In S. Pashang, N. Khanlou, & J. Clarke (Eds.), Today’s youth and mental health: Hope, power and resilience (pp. 119–133). New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students' academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(2), 353–387.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. Roberts, B. W., O'Donnell, M., & Robins, R. W. (2004). Goal and personality trait development in emerging adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(4), 541–550. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.87.4.541.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  63. Robinson, J. P., & Espelage, D. L. (2011). Inequities in educational and psychological outcomes between LGBTQ and straight students in middle and high school. Educational Researcher, 40(7), 315–330.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Sameroff, A. J., & Rosenblum, K. L. (2006). Psychosocial constraints on the development of resilience. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094(1), 116–124. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1376.010.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. SAMHSA. (2014). Serious mental health challenges among older adolescents and young adults. Rockville: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Savin-Williams, R. C. (2006). Who’s gay? Does it matter? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(1), 40–44.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Savin-Williams, R. C. (2011). Identity development among sexual-minority youth. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 671–689). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Savin-Williams, R. C., Joyner, K., & Rieger, G. (2012). Prevalence and stability of self-reported sexual orientation identity during young adulthood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(1), 103–110.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  69. Spencer, S. M., & Patrick, J. H. (2009). Social support and personal mastery as protective resources during emerging adulthood. Journal of Adult Development, 16(4), 191–198. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-009-9064-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. StatCan. (2011). Education in Canada: Attainment, field of study and location of study. Ottawa: Ministry of Industry.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Thoits, P. A. (1985). Social support and psychological well-being: Theoretical possibilities. In I. G. Sarason & B. R. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory, research and applications (pp. 51–72). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Thoits, P. A. (2013). Self, identity, stress, and mental health. In C. S. Aneshensel, J. C. Phelan, & A. Bierman (Eds.), Handbook of the sociology of mental health (pp. 357–377). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Vézina, A. (1988). Le travail et le réseau de support comme facteurs d’adaptation chez les veuves d’âge moyen. (Ph.D. Doctoral thesis), Université Laval, Québec.

  74. Wheaton, B. (1985). Models for the stress-buffering functions of coping resources. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 26(4), 352–364. https://doi.org/10.2307/2136658.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  75. Williamson, I. R. (2000). Internalized homophobia and health issues affecting lesbians and gay men. Health Education Research, 15(1), 97–107.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  76. Woodford, M. R., & Kulick, A. (2015). Academic and social integration on campus among sexual minority students: The impacts of psychological and experiential campus climate. American Journal of Community Psychology, 55(1), 13–24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-014-9683-x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This research was supported by a grant from Quebec’s Society and Culture Research Fund (FRQSC) awarded to Aude Villatte.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mélissa Goulet.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Goulet, M., Villatte, A. Understanding Risk and Resilience for Sexual Minority Emerging Adults: a Longitudinal Outlook on Minority Stress, Mental Health, and Academic Perseverance. Sex Res Soc Policy 17, 511–523 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-019-00412-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Academic perseverance
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Resilience
  • Sexual minorities