American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 55, Issue 1–2, pp 179–190 | Cite as

Resilience in Community: A Social Ecological Development Model for Young Adult Sexual Minority Women

  • Lindsey Zimmerman
  • Doyanne A. Darnell
  • Isaac C. Rhew
  • Christine M. Lee
  • Debra Kaysen
Original Article


Family support and rejection are associated with health outcomes among sexual minority women (SMW). We examined a social ecological development model among young adult SMW, testing whether identity risk factors or outness to family interacted with family rejection to predict community connectedness and collective self-esteem. Lesbian and bisexual women (N = 843; 57 % bisexual) between the ages of 18–25 (M = 21.4; SD = 2.1) completed baseline and 12-month online surveys. The sample identified as White (54.2 %), multiple racial backgrounds (16.6 %), African American (9.6 %) and Asian/Asian American (3.1 %); 10.2 % endorsed a Hispanic/Latina ethnicity. Rejection ranged from 18 to 41 % across family relationships. Longitudinal regression indicated that when outness to family increased, SMW in highly rejecting families demonstrated resilience by finding connections and esteem in sexual minority communities to a greater extent than did non-rejected peers. But, when stigma concerns, concealment motivation, and other identity risk factors increased over the year, high family rejection did not impact community connectedness and SMW reported lower collective self-esteem. Racial minority SMW reported lower community connectedness, but not lower collective self-esteem. Families likely buffer or exacerbate societal risks for ill health. Findings highlight the protective role of LGBTQ communities and normative resilience among SMW and their families.


Lesbian Bisexual Women Young Adult Family Resilience 



This work was supported by Grant R01 AA018292 (PI: Kaysen). Research reported in this publication was also supported by the National Institute Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism under award number T32 AA007455 and National Institute of Mental Health under award number T32 MH082709. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript, or the decision to submit the paper for publication. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lindsey Zimmerman,, National Center for PTSD, Dissemination and Training Division, 795 Willow Rd. Bldg. 334 (NC-PTSD), B-270, Menlo Park, CA 94025.


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Copyright information

© Society for Community Research and Action 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsey Zimmerman
    • 1
  • Doyanne A. Darnell
    • 2
  • Isaac C. Rhew
    • 2
  • Christine M. Lee
    • 2
  • Debra Kaysen
    • 2
  1. 1.National Center for PTSD, Dissemination and Training DivisionVeteran Affairs Palo Alto Health Care SystemMenlo ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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