Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals are at high risk for bullying. Research suggests that experiencing discrimination or a hate crime based on sexual orientation can have a severe negative impact on LGB individuals. Indeed, these experiences have been shown to lead to trauma among LGB individuals. However, recent research has explored the phenomena of posttraumatic growth—positive psychological change following a trauma (PTG)—to occur. The present research explores the potential factors that predict PTG among bullied LGB individuals. One hundred thirty-nine participants identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual who indicated that they had been bullied completed a series of questionnaires regarding bullying experiences (e.g., due to sexual orientation, severity, and frequency), outness (i.e., the degree to which various people knew of their sexual orientation), social support, and posttraumatic growth. Structural equation modeling (SEM) showed that LGB individuals who were bullied due to their sexual orientation perceived the bullying to be more severe than did those who were bullied for some other reason (e.g., weight, shyness) and subsequently experienced more PTG. Furthermore, outness predicted increased social support, which in turn, predicted PTG. The present findings show that bullying based on sexual orientation is perceived as particularly severe, but that posttraumatic growth can also emerge as a result. Furthermore, outness and social support were shown to be important predictors of PTG among bullied LGB individuals.
2017 Douglas A. Feldman LGBT Paper Award
Bullying as a Source of Posttraumatic Growth in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals
Tombari, Jamie M., "Bullying as a Source of Posttraumatic Growth in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals" (2017). Student Research Awards. 8.