Deconstructing a Disparity: Association of Violence and Discrimination with Smoking Among Sexual Minority Youth Adults


This afternoon, I attended some intriguing presentations from the Population Center’s Summer Institute graduates. Among them, John Blosnich, PhD candidate of Public Health Sciences at West Virginia University stuck out as a researcher looking into violence and discrimination within the context of LGB youth smoking rates. In his presentation, titled:  “Deconstructing a Disparity: Association of Violence and Discrimination with Smoking Among Sexual Minority Youth Adults,” John discusses the hypothesis that minority stress (including homophobia, alcohol abuse, depression, disclosure and bullying) may impact smoking rates among LGB youth–specifically, with regarding minority stress, how sexual minorities use tobacco as a strategy to deal with stress.

Using the National College Health Assessment Survey Fall 2008/Spring 2009 data, John identified the variables victimization, discrimination and tobacco use in comparing gay, lesbians and bisexuals with heterosexuals. As expected, GLB youth experienced not only higher rates of smoking but also higher rates of sexual assault, discrimination, physical assault and threats. However, despite higher rates of all of these factors, higher rates of discrimination and assault did not translate into higher smoking rates. In other words, discrimination and other minority related negative experiences did not affect smoking rates in this sample.

As a result of these findings, John plans to look at resiliency as a factor in why LGBT people who experience discrimination don’t smoke. In addition, he plans to look more closely at gender and race within this context. We are very excited to follow the progress of John’s research project to see what his research yields. Stay tuned for some information, and for more information or to discuss the project, please email him.

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate with the Network for LGBT Tobacco Control

 

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Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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