Recollections of gay men: Retrospectively exploring how school-based supports lessen the effects of victimization for gay high school students
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. College of Social Work Honors Theses; 2010
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) adolescents experience pervasive victimization in the high school environment that has a negative effect on their psychosocial well-being. These adolescents are at an increased risk of depression, suicide, substance abuse, absenteeism from school, dropping out of school, and frequently face alienation from peers and teachers/administrators. Therefore, targeted interventions and a greater sense of inclusiveness in the high school environment are essential to reversing current trends. This study seeks to retrospectively explore high school experiences of victimization of gay men in their 30’s and their recollection of school personnel response and support. The experiences of the participants are then compared to the current literature on the LGBTQ youth experience in schools to see if there have been advances in these areas and where there are gaps. The study was administered using in-person interviews, and each participant was interviewed according to an open-ended, semi-structured interview guide. Participants were recruited through both convenience sampling and snowball sampling methods. Results indicated that participants experienced similar struggles to what the literature is describing about today’s youth experience 12-20 years ago, such as verbal and physical victimization, feelings of low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, alienation, heterosexism/homophobia, and a lack of teacher/administrator response to peer victimization. A comparison of the sample group of gay men to the literature reveals that not much has changed in the high school environment in the past 12-20 years. Three overarching themes emerged from the responses: the sources and nature of victimization, pervasive effects of victimization during the high school years and afterward, and perceptions of the current high school climate and recommendations for intervention in these environments today. The stories of these participants could also have been the stories of adolescents today. A comparison with the literature today reflects that adolescents still experience similar risk factors and a lack of social support. Implications for social work education and practice are discussed, with an emphasis on LGBTQ targeted interventions and a greater inclusiveness of these issues into university curricula.