Researcher Ties Political Divisiveness to Homophobic Bullying

3-Oct-2019 3:05 PM EDT, by Texas State University

Newswise — Being a teenager is hard enough, but Dr. Yishan Shen, an assistant professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University, has uncovered additional challenges for youths between 10 and 19 who are targets of bullying during contentious political campaigns.

Divisive partisan climates can cause an increase in homophobic bullying, according to Shen’s research group headed by Stephen Russell, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

Although Shen’s primary area of interest is on the development of adolescents from Latino and Asian immigrant families, she joined Russell’s laboratory as a graduate student at UT in 2015 to expand her scholarship to other minority and marginalized groups. 

While examining data from the California Healthy Kids Survey gathered before a 2008 referendum known as Proposition 8, Shen found what she describes as an “odd peak of homophobic bullying in 2008.” When she reported the trend to Russell, he exclaimed, “The Prop 8 Effect!” in a reference to attitudes about a California ballot initiative intended to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. Exploration of this topic continued, and the team’s findings were published as Proposition 8 and Homophobic Bullying in California in the May 13 online edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Shen and the researchers determined that secondary school students reported “significantly more” homophobic bullying as the Prop 8 vote was approaching but less after the Prop 8 vote. “We have run many statistical analyses to see if there are other possible explanations, like the economic or ethnic makeup of the schools, but after controlling for each of these variables, we still observed the same pattern, leading us to conclude that the increase in rates of bullying was indeed associated with Prop 8,” Shen said.

 Fortunately, one school initiative was found to prevent and combat homophobic bullying in their study – the formation of gay-straight alliance clubs, Shen said. 

At Texas State, Shen does not teach a course specifically about homophobic bullying, but she does cover the topic in the classroom. She designed a class for her undergraduate Adolescent Development course to talk about adolescent sexuality, in which she shares the Russell group’s conclusions in relation to LGBT youth and their well-being. Additionally, Shen incorporates research designs stemming from this study in her graduate Research Methods course, challenging graduate students to critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of this study’s research design.

Shen hopes to focus future research on the risk and resilience of youth who are disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression, including their race or ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation.

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 6020
Newswise:Video Embedded newswise-expert-panels-on-covid-19-pandemic-notable-excerpts-quotes-and-videos-available
Released: 18-Jun-2021 2:10 PM EDT
Newswise Expert Panels on COVID-19 Pandemic: Notable excerpts, quotes and videos available

Newswise is hosting a series of Expert Panels discussion on unique aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This tip sheet includes some notable quotes from the panelists.

Released: 16-Jun-2021 1:10 PM EDT
Establishing Juneteenth As National Holiday is Opportunity to Create "New America"
Binghamton University, State University of New York

The Senate has unanimously passed a bill to establish Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, as a federal holiday. This is an historic moment and an opportunity to create a “new America,” according to Anne Bailey, professor of history at Binghamton University, State University of New York and director of the Harriet Tubman Center for the Study of Freedom and Equity.

Newswise: Keeping the peace
Released: 14-Jun-2021 5:55 PM EDT
Keeping the peace
Washington University in St. Louis

New research from Washington University in St. Louis sheds light on how — and in what context — peacekeepers can contain the spread of violence in fragile post-conflict areas.

Released: 8-Jun-2021 12:45 PM EDT
2021 Gov Race is Currently Murphy’s to Lose
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Governor Phil Murphy currently has a clear path to reelection victory, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

Newswise: Political science professors sign statement warning of threats to US democracy
Released: 8-Jun-2021 12:10 PM EDT
Political science professors sign statement warning of threats to US democracy
University of Notre Dame

Five University of Notre Dame professors who specialize in different areas of democracy studies recently signed a strong statement of concern issued by the think tank New America warning of the serious threats to democracy in the U.S.

Showing results

110 of 6020