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Predicting Psychosocial Consequences of Homophobic Victimization in Middle School Students

NCJ Number
Journal of Early Adolescence Volume: 27 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2007 Pages: 175-191
V. Paul Poteat; Dorothy L. Espelage
Date Published
May 2007
17 pages
This investigation examined the extent to which homophobic victimization predicted multiple indicators of psychological and social distress for middle school students.
Overall, the findings indicate that being a victim of homophobic content is a serious concern and significantly predicts several negative psychosocial outcomes. Results of the investigation suggest that being the target of homophobic victimization has significant psychological and social consequences for middle school students, although differences were found for males and females. Being the target of homophobic epithets significantly predicted higher levels of anxiety and depression, personal distress, and lower sense of school belonging for males. For females, it appears that being the target of homophobic content is not as strong a predictor of negative psychological or social outcomes compared with males. However, being the target of homophobic epithets did significantly predict higher levels of withdrawal in females. For adolescents, the school environment provides a primary context in which to interact socially. However, perpetual bullying and victimization contributes to the disruption of this developmental process and for many students is associated with both immediate and sustained negative psychological and social consequences. Because of its strong relation with aggressive behavior or bullying, research is needed to determine how homophobic victimization contributes to psychosocial consequences among students victimized in this manner. The study consisted of 143 middle school students assessed over a 1 year period. Tables, references