LGBTQ Youth-Serving Community-Based Organizations: Who Participates and What Difference Does it Make?

  • Jessica N. FishEmail author
  • Raymond L. Moody
  • Arnold H. Grossman
  • Stephen T. Russell
Empirical Research


LGBTQ youth are at greater risk for compromised health, yet large-scale health promotion programs for LGBTQ young people have been slow to develop. LGBTQ community-based organizations—which provide LGBTQ-focused support and services—have existed for decades, but have not been a focus of the LGBTQ youth health literature. The current study used a contemporary sample of LGBTQ youth (age 15–21; M = 18.81; n = 1045) to examine who participates in LGBTQ community-based organizations, and the association between participation and self-reported mental health and substance use. Youth who participated in LGBTQ community-based organizations were more likely to be assigned male at birth, transgender, youth of color, and accessing free-or-reduced lunch. Participation was associated with concurrent and longitudinal reports of mental health and substance use. LGBTQ community-based organizations may be an underutilized resource for promoting LGBTQ youth health.


Sexual and gender minority LGBTQ Youth Mental health Substance use Community programs Health promotion 


Authors’ Contributions

J.N.F. conceived of the current study design, conducted all data analysis, participated in the interpretation of the results, and drafted the manuscript; R.L.M participated in an earlier iteration of the paper, provided input on the current study design, and assisted in drafting the manuscript; A.H.G. conceived and carrier out the original data collection and provided substantial feedback the study design and manuscript; S.T.R. conceived and carried out the original data collection, participated in the conception of the current study design and interpretation of results, and contributed to the drafting of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research uses data from the Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide among Sexual Minority Youth study, designed by A.H.G. and S.T.R., and supported by Award Number R01MH091212 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health. J.N.F. acknowledged support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (F32AA023138), and S.T.R. from the Priscilla Pond Flawn Endowment at the University of Texas at Austin. This research was also supported, in part, by grants P2CHD042849, awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and P2CHD041041, awarded to the Maryland Population Research Center, by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. J.N.F. would also like to acknowledge support from the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center cooperative agreement #U48DP006382 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Any interpretations and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and may not reflect those of the CDC.

Data Sharing Declaration

The manuscript data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (include name of committee + reference number) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family Science, School of Public HealthUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Health Psychology and Clinical Science, Department of PsychologyCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Applied Psychology, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human DevelopmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Human Development and Family SciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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