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Tobacco-use by LGBTQ youth: prevalence and correlates

Institution: Education Training and Research Associates, Inc.
Investigator(s): John Shields, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2011 (Cycle 20) Grant #: 20XT-0136 Award: $304,650
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Exploratory/Developmental Award

Initial Award Abstract
The proposed study will focus on an under-researched population, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning) youth. Both youth and the LGBT community are priority groups specifically identified by the TRDRP. Currently, there are few studies that look specifically at LGBTQ youth rates of tobacco use and even fewer that examine the correlates for (factors associated with) tobacco use among this understudied population. The handful of studies that exist show that rates of tobacco use among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth are significantly higher than those of their heterosexual (H) peers and that factors often experienced by LGB youth such as lack of family acceptance, school bullying, harassment and victimization are related to observed higher engagement in tobacco use and other high-risk behaviors. Even less has been published on the patterns and potential correlates of tobacco use within the LGB adolescent community and nothing has been published on LGB youth of color. Furthermore, no research with adequate samples has been published on tobacco use by transgender (T) youth, who, along with LGB and questioning (Q) youth, make up the full range of sexual minority youth as defined by policy makers and health-promotion practitioners and stakeholders in California i.e., LGBTQ youth.

The overall aim of the study is to utilize and examine existing data from San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from 2001-2011. The specific research questions the study will address are:

1. What are the rates of tobacco use among males, females and race/ethnic groups of LGBTQ and H youth attending public high school in San Francisco during 2001-2011?

2. Which demographic, contextual and health risk behavior variables were most associated with tobacco use in the subgroups of LGB and H students attending high school in SFUSD during 2001-2011?

3. How do factors common to both groups differ in the strength of their relationship to tobacco use among H versus LGB students?

The proposed work will yield some of the first findings on a significantly understudied, diverse, and hard to reach population LGBTQ youth. The proposed study will provide results that can be used with confidence by California’s tobacco control advocates (e.g., California’s Tobacco Control Program and the California Department of Education’s Healthy Kids Program) to more effectively target prevention and cessation programming for California’s LGBTQ youth. The results will also provide a foundation for further research into the patterns and predictors of tobacco use among this understudied population.