Discriminatory experiences appears to cause lesbian and gay teens to drink more than their heterosexual peers in an effort to deal with social stress.
A study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver analyzed responses from 1,232 youths aged 12 to 18 years old who took part in an online survey conducted by OutProud: The National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth. While 84 percent of respondents identified as gay, only 16 percent identified as lesbian.
According to minority stress theory, lesbian and gay people endure chronic stress due to discrimination, rejection, harassment, concealment of sexual orientation, internalized homophobia, and other negative experiences. Higher rates of physical and mental health problems among queer people have been attributed to this chronic stress.
Several factors were identified as predictors of binge drinking.
The greater the internalized homophobia in a respondent, the greater the likelihood of binge drinking was.
Community connections had a mixed relationship to binge drinking. While on the one hand, those with connections to queer communities tended to be more likely to binge drink, greater connectedness mitigated the effects of internalized homophobia and indirectly reduced the chances of heavy episodic drinking.
"Given that interventions are more effective when they are developed to match the cultural experiences of participants, theoretically grounded studies like this one can potentially lead to tailored treatment approaches based on the unique experiences of lesbian and gay adolescents," lead author Dr. Sheree M. Schrager, director of research in the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, stated in a news release.