- School environment and the mental health of sexual minority youth: a study among Dutch young adolescents
- American Journal of Public Health
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Objectives. We examined whether structural elements of the school environment, in particular cultural pluralism and consistency and clarity of school rules and expectations of students, could mitigate the risk for mental health problems among young sexual minority adolescents.
Methods. Data were collected in 2008 by means of a computer-based questionnaire completed at school by 513 young Dutch adolescents (12-15 years old) during regular class times. Eleven percent of these students, who were enrolled in 8 different schools, reported having at least some feelings of same-sex attraction.
Results. Adolescents with same-sex attractions in schools where rules and expectations were experienced as less consistent and clear reported significantly more mental health problems than their peers with no same-sex attractions in the same schools. Such differences were absent in schools where rules and expectations were experienced as more consistent and clear. There were no such effects of cultural pluralism.
Conclusions. Our results suggest that schools with consistent and clear rules and expectations mitigate the risk for mental health problems among students with same-sex attractions and underscore the importance of structural measures for the health of sexual minority youth.
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