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Risk of violence higher among LGBQA+ people during adolescence, young adulthood

LGBQA+ individuals had higher odds of having experienced verbal sexual harassment, homophobic or transphobic slurs, sexual coercion or physically aggressive harassment, and forced sex.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.com

“Stigmatization or abuse of those who do not adhere to the heterosexual norm remains all too common, affecting both those who identify as LGBQA+ and those who do not but act or are viewed outside of cisgender and heterosexual norms.”

This is according to a study – “Sexual Violence Associated With Sexual Identity and Gender Among California Adults Reporting Their Experiences as Adolescents and Young Adults” by David J. Inwards-Breland, Nicole E. Johns, and Anita Raj – that appeared in JAMA Network Open.

Unfortunately, even with the “disproportionate levels of violence (that) exist in LGBQA+ communities, often starting in adolescence and young adulthood, little research exists on the range of sexual violence (SV) experiences.”

This is why the researchers analyzed data from Cal-VEX 2020, a state-representative survey of California residents aged 18 years and older, to assess associations between LGBQA+ identification and types of SV experienced in adolescence (ages 13-17 years) and young adulthood (ages 18-24 years) using gender-stratified adjusted logistic regression. Forms of SV included verbal, cyber, and coercion or physically aggressive sexual harassment; homophobic or transphobic slurs; and forced sex.

They found that:

  • In adolescence, among women, LGBQA+ individuals had higher odds of having experienced verbal sexual harassment, homophobic or transphobic slurs, sexual coercion or physically aggressive harassment, and forced sex
  • Among men, LGBQA+ participants had higher odds of having experienced homophobic or transphobic slurs and forced sex
  • In young adulthood, among women, LGBQA+ individuals had higher odds of having experienced homophobic or transphobic slurs
  • Among men, LGBQA+ individuals had higher odds of having experienced all forms of violence in young adulthood, including verbal sexual harassment, homophobic or transphobic slurs , cyber sexual harassment, sexual coercion or physically aggressive sexual harassment, and forced sex

For the researchers, an important issue to highlight “is the level and risk for homophobic and transphobic remarks LGBQA+ individuals face in adolescence and young adulthood, a time where their sexual identity and sense of value for self are forming.”

For them, the findings “speak to the need for multifold solutions to support LGBQA+ adolescents and young adults, including altering social norms accepting SV and homophobia, creating safer school and other institutional environments for LGBQA+ youth, and supporting healthy sexual and romantic partnerships for LGBQA+ people.”

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