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03-11-2021 | Empirical Research

Early Timing and Determinants of the Sexual Orientation Disparity in Internalizing Psychopathology: A Prospective Cohort Study from Ages 3 to 15

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Auteurs:
John E. Pachankis, Kirsty A. Clark, Daniel N. Klein, Lea R. Dougherty
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Supplementary information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10964-021-01532-x.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

Knowing the age at which the sexual orientation disparity in depression and anxiety symptoms first emerges and the early determinants of this disparity can suggest optimal timing and targets of supportive interventions. This prospective cohort study of children ages 3 to 15 (n = 417; 10.6% same-sex-attracted; 47.2% assigned female at birth) and their parents sought to determine the age at which the sexual orientation disparity in depression and anxiety symptoms first emerges and whether peer victimization and poor parental relationships mediate this disparity. Same-sex-attracted youth first demonstrated significantly higher depression symptoms at age 12 and anxiety symptoms at age 15 than exclusively other-sex-attracted youth. Age 12 peer victimization mediated the sexual orientation disparity in age 15 depression symptoms. Age 12 poor mother–child relationship mediated the sexual orientation disparity in age 15 anxiety symptoms. The findings are discussed in terms of implications for developmentally appropriate interventions against social stress during early development.

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