Communicating with School Staff about Sexual Identity, Health and Safety: An Exploratory Study of the Experiences and Preferences of Black and Latino Teen Young Men who have Sex with Men
Published Date:Sep 2015
Source:LGBT Health. 2(3):258-264.
Pubmed Central ID:PMC4589529
Funding:200-2009-30503/PHS HHS/United States
CC999999/Intramural CDC HHS/United States
This exploratory study examined the experiences of black and Latino teen young men who have sex with men (YMSM) and their preferences for communication with school staff about matters related to sexual orientation.
Participants for this study were recruited in three urban centers in the United States and by multiple community-based organizations serving black and Latino YMSM. Eligible youth were male, black or Latino, ages 13-19, enrolled in 90 days of school in the previous 18 months, and reported attraction to or sexual behavior with other males, or identified as gay or bisexual. Participants completed Web-based questionnaires (n=415) and/or in-depth interviews (n=32).
Questionnaire participants reported willingness to talk to at least one school staff member about: safety, dating and relationships, and feeling attracted to other guys (63.4%, 58.4%, and 55.9%, respectively). About one-third of the sample reported they would not talk with any school staff about these topics. Exploratory analyses revealed youth who experienced feeling unsafe at school and who had higher levels of trust in the information provided by school staff were more likely to be willing to talk with school staff about safety issues, dating, or same sex attraction (aOR=2.80 and aOR=4.85, respectively). Interview participants reported being most willing to talk to staff who (1) were able and willing to help them; (2) would keep discussions confidential, and (3) expressed genuine care. Preferences for confiding in school staff perceived to be LGBT and having similar racial/ethnic background were also noted.
Findings suggest school staff can serve as points of contact for reaching YMSM and professional development and interventions can be tailored to reach YMSM and connect them to services they need. Additional research is needed to understand how to increase YMSM comfort talking with school staff about sexual health or sexual identity concerns.
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