The first paper, “The Relative Importance of Individual- and School-Level Factors in Predicting LGBTQ+ Students’ Sense of School Belonging,” employs multilevel structural equation modeling to determine the relative importance of relationships with teachers and peers, experiencing bullying, participation in school activities, perceptions of openness to diversity, gender, race, and grade in predicting perceptions of school belonging for LGBTQ+ youth and their cisgender, heterosexual peers. This exploration of the importance of the social networks, organizations, and other factors can inform interventions and policies that govern LGBTQ+ youth’s lives.
The second paper, “Greater Engagement in Gender-Sexuality Alliances Predicts Reduced Mental Health Concerns through Empowerment,” uses longitudinal survey data to explore if greater engagement in school-based organizations for LGBTQ+ and ally youth (GSAs) predicts reduced depressive and anxiety symptoms through an empowerment process. These results concerning the importance of school-based organizations in LGBTQ+ lives will inform research on and implementation of prevention programs to be delivered in GSAs to promote resilience.
The third paper, “The Potential Role of Latino MSM’s Social and Sexual Networks in Extending PrEP protection to Women and non-Latino Men,” examines informal networks among Latino men who have sex with other men (LMSM) and the role these networks play in PrEP uptake and usage, as well as sexual risk behaviors. These results demonstrate the potential importance of social and sexual networks, especially as a means of reaching non-PrEP using men and men that may be harder to target outside of these networks.
The discussant will bring these three papers together, exploring the future of prevention research with LGBTQ+ youth and adults. General social networks that contribute to school belonging, specific and structured youth organizations, and informal social and sexual networks may offer inroads for promoting resilience, reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms, and reducing risky sexual behavior. Using cutting-edge and rigorous methods (multilevel structural equation modeling, social network analysis), this symposium provides important nuance and understanding to discussions of prevention programs tailored for LGBTQ+ individuals.