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Physiological impacts of homophobia
Date:2/2/2011

This release is available in French.

Montreal, February 2, 2011 - Young adults who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) are at far higher risk for severe mental health problems than their heterosexual peers. New research from Concordia University suggests that the stress of being rejected or victimized because of sexual orientation may disrupt hormonal responses in lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

Recently published as a doctoral thesis in clinical psychology, this investigation examined environmental risks and protective factors that counterbalanced them in LGB youth. "Compared to their heterosexual peers, suicide rates are up to 14 times higher among lesbian, gay and bisexual high school and college students," says Michael Benibgui, who led this investigation as part of his PhD thesis at Concordia's Department of Psychology and Centre for Research in Human Development.

"Depression and anxiety are widespread," he continues. "To learn why this occurs, we studied the physiological impact of homophobic social environments on a group of healthy young LGB adults."

Self loathing, stress hormones and bullying linked

The study examined the link between living in a homophobic environment and 'internalized homophobia,' e.g., feeling negatively about oneself because of one's sexual identity as LGB.

Individuals who experienced more LGB-related stress arguments about sexual identity, bullying or discrimination had higher internalized homophobia and showed increased production of the stress hormone cortisol compared to peers in more positive environments.

What's more, LGB youth who showed more internalized homophobia and abnormal cortisol activity also experienced increased symptoms of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. "This study is among the first to clearly link the experience of homophobia with abno
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Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
s-j.desjardins@concordia.ca
51-484-824-245-068
Concordia University
Source:Eurekalert  

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Physiological impacts of homophobia
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