School support groups, other school factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents



Sexual minority adolescents—those self-identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) or with same-sex desires or sexual experiences—report higher rates of victimization and suicidality than their heterosexual peers, yet little empirical research has examined school factors associated with these risks. This study used data from the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2000), matched with school-level data from state records and school principals, to compare the safety of 202 sexual minority adolescents in 52 schools with and without support groups for LGB students, to investigate the relationship between perceived staff support and safety, and to explore other school factors associated with victimization and suicidality among these youth. As hypothesized, sexual minority adolescents in schools with LGB support groups reported lower rates of victimization and suicide attempts than those in other schools. Victimization and perceived staff support predicted suicidality. Several additional school factors were associated with the safety of sexual minority students. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Psychol Schs 43: 573–589, 2006.