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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Extracurricular activity and social justice involvement of sexual minority youth
by Toomey, Russell Blake, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2011, 108; 3450770
Abstract (Summary)

Sexual minority youth (i.e., youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or who report same-sex attractions) disproportionally experience negative mental health and academic outcomes. Yet, few studies have examined positive youth development for this population. The goal of these three manuscripts is to add new information about positive developmental contexts for sexual minority youth in order to generate ideas for intervention and prevention. More specifically, the focus of these three manuscripts is on school-based extracurricular activity involvement of sexual minority youth.

Manuscript one presents results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that compare sexual minority and heterosexual youth involvement in school-based extracurricular activities. Results documented that sexual minority youth are involved in school-based extracurricular activities at the same frequency as their heterosexual peers. For all youth, there was a small, but positive association between extracurricular activity involvement and school connectedness. School connectedness was associated with better mental health (i.e., higher self-esteem and lower depression), and these associations were stronger for sexual minority youth.

Manuscript two presents results from the Preventing School Harassment Study that examine lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) youth involvement in Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). GSAs are extracurricular clubs that are tailored to the needs of LGBQ youth. This study examined the concurrent associations among GSA presence, GSA membership, and participation in GSA-related social justice activities, with victimization based on sexual orientation and school-based and civic outcomes. GSA presence and participation in GSA-related social justice activities were positively associated with school belongingness and grade-point average (GPA), and GSA membership was associated with greater school belongingness. Results suggested, however, that the positive benefits of GSA presence and social justice involvement dissipate at high levels of school victimization.

Manuscript three extends findings from manuscript two by examining the associations among GSA presence, GSA membership, perceived GSA effectiveness, and young adult well-being. The study utilized the Family Acceptance Project and found that the presence of a GSA, membership in a GSA, and GSA effectiveness differentially predicted LGBT young adult well-being. In some cases, these three facets of GSAs buffered the negative effect of LGBT-specific school victimization.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Russell, Stephen T.
Commitee: Borden, Lynne M., Card, Noel A.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Family & Consumer Sciences
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 72/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: LGBTQ studies, Educational psychology, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Academic achievement, Extracurricular activities, Gay-straight alliances, Psychosocial well-being, Sexual minority youth, Social justice, Vicitmization
Publication Number: 3450770
ISBN: 978-1-124-59903-8
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