Background: It is estimated 1 in 5 children in the United States of America have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with only 21% of these children receiving treatment (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) youth mental health issues have been a consistent area of concern (Gonsiorek, 1988). The presence or absence of health-related resources and programs in schools has been shown to alter the health outcomes of students in their care (Leger, 1999). However, the extent to which a school can implement programs depends largely on a school’s socioeconomic status (SES). This study uses publicly accessible data from several sources to evaluate the moderating effect of school SES on the relationship between sexual orientation and mental health among primary and secondary students.
Methods: Surveys were collected from 15,624 students in grades 9-12 through the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) (CDC, 2015). Data related to student sexuality and their mental health was extracted from this dataset. Students surveyed were also divided into 18 distinct large urban school districts and this was used to find the funding per student for each student surveyed in each district. A three variable cross tabulation analysis was conducted to assess the role of SES on the relationship between sexual orientation and mental health among the students surveyed.
Discussion and Conclusion: The results of this analysis indicate that school socioeconomic status does not have a large moderating effect in the relationship between student sexuality and mental health. This finding is of particular interest because it suggests that school SES does not impact LGBT students’ mental health any more than their relatively mentally healthier peers. It may be worthwhile for schools with more funding available per student to direct efforts to specifically benefit groups who are disproportionately affected by mental health disorders, such as LGBT students.
Recommended CitationLabban, MPHc, Kyle and Crawford, PhD, Albert, "Analyzing the Potential Moderating Effect of School SES on the Relationship Between Student Sexuality and Mental Health" (2018). Master of Public Health Thesis and Capstone Presentations. Presentation 260.