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An exploratory analysis of gender, sexual orientation and mental health outcomes

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Title: An exploratory analysis of gender, sexual orientation and mental health outcomes
Author(s): Marrara, Sarah
Advisor(s): Andrade, Flavia; Black, Angela
Department / Program: Kinesiology & Community Health
Discipline: Community Health
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.S.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): Mental health Gay Lesbian Bisexual Sexual orientation Gender performance Gay, lesbian, bisexual (GLB)
Abstract: Higher rates of mental distress have been reported among gay, lesbian (GLB) and bisexual populations compared to their heterosexual counterparts. This study attempted to build on previous research and explore multiple risk and protective factors associated with mental health outcomes (depressive and anxiety symptoms) within the GLB population. In particular, we considered: parental support/connectedness, social support/ connectedness, internalized homophobia (IH), discrimination and stigma, disclosure practices, and parental enforcement of gender appropriate behaviors. Numerous hypotheses were tested. The first set of relationships compared the GLB population under study to the heterosexual population. H1: The GLB population will experience greater mental distress than the heterosexual population. H2: Heterosexual respondents will report greater parental support/connectedness than GLB respondents. H3: Parental figures will more strictly regulate male gender performance, regardless of sexuality. The second set of hypotheses explored the intergroup dimensions of GLB identity. H4: For GLB persons, higher levels of parental connectedness/support will be associated with lower levels of mental distress. H5: For GLB persons, higher levels of disclosure will be associated with lower levels of mental distress. H6: For GLB persons, level of IH and level of disclosure will be negatively correlated. H7: For GLB persons, higher levels of parental enforcement of gender appropriate behaviors will be associated with lower levels of disclosure within the family unit. H8: For GLB persons, higher levels of parental enforcement of gender appropriate behaviors will be associated with higher levels of IH. H9: For GLB persons, greater experiences of discrimination (racial/ethnic or sexual) will be associated with greater levels of mental distress. Both descriptive and inferential statistical techniques were employed in analysis. The sample was drawn from students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Data were collected through an online survey administered Fall semester 2011. The sample was comprised of 116 respondents 98 of which identified as heterosexual 16 as GLB and 2 as Other (asexual). Results indicated that GLB males were at a significantly greater risk of an anxiety outcome compared to heterosexual males. GLB respondents experienced lower levels of parental support/connectedness compared to heterosexual respondents. There was a difference in how the stress process operated based on GLB respondent’s biological sex. This was particularly true when considering variables such as IH and enforcement of gender appropriate behaviors. For GB males a positive relationship emerged between level of IH and parental enforcement of gender appropriate behavior for both mother and father figures, however for LB females a negative relationship emerged between IH and motherly enforcement of gender appropriate behaviors (no relationship was found for fathers).
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34194
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Sarah Marrara
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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