Despite prevention needs, little is known about how LGBTQ adolescents compare to heterosexual, cisgender peers in their knowledge of what dating violence is and how to prevent it. This information has implications for targeting intervention audiences and focusing content.
We adapted the evidence-based Safe Dates dating violence prevention program (Foshee et al., 1998) to be more inclusive of LGBTQ adolescents, then implemented the adapted curriculum. Here, we describe between-group differences in dating violence knowledge and preliminary findings of knowledge change following intervention implementation.
Methods: Participants were 167 adolescents and young adults (age range = 14-23 at baseline, mean = 15.59, SD = 1.92) who participated in the LGBTQ-inclusive Safe Dates program and completed pre-post tests before beginning the program and after the last session (approximately 10 weeks apart). Pre-post tests included 25 free-response and true/false questions measuring knowledge of what constitutes dating abuse, how to prevent victimization and perpetration, and how to intervene (Foshee et al., 1998). Responses were coded for number of correct answers.
A repeated measures ANOVA tested whether knowledge increased from pre-test to post-test. We controlled for whether participants identified as female (55% of sample) and whether they identified as LGBTQ (33% of sample).
Results: Knowledge of what dating abuse is and how to prevent it increased following the program (average increase of 3.47 correct items; F (1,164) = 29.44; p < .001). Interactions of pre-post occasion with gender and LGBTQ identity revealed that change in knowledge did not differ by gender (F (1,164) = 0.08; p = .78) or LGBTQ identity (F (1,164) = 0.01; p = .94). Regarding between-subjects effects, knowledge scores were higher for girls than boys (F (1,164) = 10.78; p < .01) and were lower for LGBTQ participants than heterosexual, cisgender participants (F (1,164) = 3.93; p < .05).
Conclusions: Results underscore the need for LGBTQ programming, given that LGBTQ adolescents had less dating violence knowledge at baseline and after intervention implementation. Results provide preliminary evidence that an LGBTQ-inclusive adaptation of Safe Dates may be efficacious in reducing dating violence for both LGBTQ and heterosexual adolescents. Additional research is necessary to determine whether change in knowledge translates to change in behavior.