Objective: To investigate whether the intersectionality of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority youth (LGB+) and living in a rural community may portend worse concurrent health indicators than identifying as heterosexual and/or living in a nonrural community.
Study design: Data were collected online between 2010 and 2011 from 5100 13- to-18-year-old youth across the US. Youth were randomly recruited from within the Harris Panel Online and through targeted outreach efforts to LGBT+ youth by a youth-focused nonprofit. The survey questionnaire was self-administered and included measures used in the present study and other measures related to the goal of the Teen Health and Technology study.
Results: Living in a rural community was not associated with additional challenges beyond those posed by LGB+ status. Instead, most noted differences in indicators of psychosocial challenge were between LGB+ and heterosexual youth, regardless of rural vs nonrural community living status. For example, sexual minority youth, both male and female, were more likely to have used substances, have depressive symptomatology, have low self-esteem, and report being bullied in the past year compared with both rural and nonrural heterosexual youth.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that LGB+ youth living in rural areas are equally likely to face psychosocial challenges as LGB+ youth living in nonrural areas. Pediatricians and other healthcare providers who work with youth should be mindful of creating LGB+ inclusive environments that can promote self-disclosure by youth who may benefit from additional health services or clinical support for psychosocial challenges.
Keywords: LGB; adolescents; health indicators; rural; sexual minority; teens; youth.
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