Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 7, pp 952–962 | Cite as

Willingness to Remain Friends and Attend School with Lesbian and Gay Peers: Relational Expressions of Prejudice Among Heterosexual Youth

  • V. Paul PoteatEmail author
  • Dorothy L. Espelage
  • Brian W. Koenig
Empirical Research


In this study, heterosexual students’ willingness to remain friends with peers who disclose that they are gay or lesbian and their willingness to attend schools that include gay and lesbian students were examined among two large middle school and high school samples (Sample 1: n = 20,509; 50.7% girls; Sample 2: n = 16,917; 50.2% girls). Boys were less willing than girls to remain friends or attend schools with gay and lesbian peers, as were students in earlier grades than were students in later grades. Further, there was small, yet significant, variability in these scores across schools. Greater racial diversity within the school partially accounted for this school-level variability; students in more racially diverse schools reported greater willingness to remain friends and attend school with gay and lesbian peers. Findings suggest that while intervention programs must continue to address blatant and overt physical aggression against sexual minority youth, there is also a significant need for programming to address the more subtle expressions of sexual prejudice that contribute to unwelcoming and unsafe school climates.


Homophobia Prejudice School climate Peer relationships 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Paul Poteat
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dorothy L. Espelage
    • 2
  • Brian W. Koenig
    • 3
  1. 1.Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.University of IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignUSA
  3. 3.K12 AssociatesMadisonUSA

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