May 19, 2017 at 2:47 pm EDT | by Staff reports
‘It Gets Better’ may be harmful: study
No Justice No Pride, Capital Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Ted Eytan; courtesy Flickr)

NEW YORK — A new study from the University of Arizona finds that the message of the “It Gets Better” video series, started in 2010 to combat LGBT teen suicide, may not be effective, New Now Next and other outlets report.

The video series, in which LGBT people from all walks of life assure viewers their lives will improve in time, may do more harm than good according to Russell Toomey, a University of Arizona professor whose team examined profiles of 245 LGB young adults to see how they coped with sexual-minority stress during adolescence, New Now Next reports.

Three common strategies emerged: Cognitive strategies (the “It Gets Better” approach), alternative-seeking strategies (changing social circles or schools), and “LGB-specific” strategies (joining a gay-straight alliance).

Young people who sought out LGB-specific strategies reported better psychosocial adjustment and were more likely to graduate high school. Cognitive and alternative-seeking strategies were associated with poorer adjustment, higher incidents of depression and lower self-esteem. Alternative-seeking strategies were even linked to lower likelihood of finishing high school, New Now Next reports.

Toomey’s findings, based on data from San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project, will be published in the Journal of Homosexuality.

  • Wasn’t the “It Gets Better” project aimed more at kids who didn’t have the option of LGB-specific strategies, though?

  • To be valid, this type of study needs to control for the situations of the participants before they adopted the various strategies.

    If their initial circumstances differed, it cannot be said whether the different results are due to the different strategies or due to their different initial circumstances.

    For example, if the participants who changed schools were more likely to be transgender, to be gender transgressive, to be out or to be victims of bullying, then that might be why they were less likely to graduate instead of the fact that they changed schools.

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