What is it about?

Prior research shows that ethnicity-related and sexual orientation-related social stressors influence the mental health of marginalized communities, yet rarely focuses on the unique intersection of ethnicity and sexual orientation, such as the impact of discrimination experienced within one's own communities. Benjamin F. Shepherd, a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University, and colleagues examined data from 452 US-residing Latinx lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other queer (LGBQ+) adults ages 18 to 63 who participated in an online, cross-sectional study. This study found that Latinx LGBQ+ adults who experienced higher levels of intersectional discrimination (i.e., sexual orientation-based discrimination from Latinx persons and ethnicity-based discrimination from queer persons) were more likely to report experiencing identity conflict a.k.a. conflicts in allegiances (i.e., the perceived incompatibility between one’s Latinx identity and queer identity), as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Moreover, this study found that identity conflict, an understudied minority stressor, partly contributed to the significant association between intersectional discrimination and mental health, even after accounting for several known risk factors for depression and anxiety, such as age, education level, and level of sexual orientation outness to family.

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Why is it important?

Latinx LGBQ+ populations experience higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to their non-Latinx and heterosexual counterparts. Considering these disparities, it is important to identify and mitigate potential risk factors through research, clinical practice, and public policy through an intersectional lens. The findings from this study suggest greater exposure to sexual orientation-based discrimination experienced within Latinx communities and ethnicity-based discrimination experienced within queer communities is related to more severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, in part via heightened perceptions that one's Latinx identity and minoritized sexual identity are incompatible and should be kept separate rather than integrated. Importantly, these findings highlight an urgent need for culturally-responsive research, mental health care practices, and policies that challenge these stigmatizing perceptions, as well as their intersectional origins, to support the mental health of Latinx LGBQ+ populations.

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This page is a summary of: O te peinas, o te haces rolos: Intersectional discrimination, identity conflict, and mental health among Latinx sexual minoritized adults., Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, September 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/cdp0000621.
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