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01-09-2012 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 9/2012

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 9/2012

Homophobia and the Transition to Adulthood: A Three Year Panel Study among Belgian Late Adolescents and Young Adults, 2008–2011

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 9/2012
Marc Hooghe, Cecil Meeusen


Studies on homophobia among adolescents routinely depart from the assumption that this attitude will be continued into adulthood. However, little research has been conducted on how the transition toward adulthood actually affects homophobia. While earlier studies relied on cross-sectional observations, the present analysis makes use of the Belgian Political Panel Survey (2008–2011), tracking 2,815 respondents (52 % female, 48 % male) between the ages of 18 and 21. A conditional change model shows that while men had substantially higher levels of homophobia than women to begin with, this difference grew even larger throughout the observation period. The discrepancy between Muslim respondents and those with other religions became larger as well. Overall, the gender and religious differences already present in adolescence had become further polarized at the end of the observation period. Friendship relations with persons with a different sexual orientation, on the other hand, significantly reduced prejudice, especially among men, while the results also show that changes in the level of homophobia are related strongly to conservative views on gender roles. We conclude that groups that already display high levels of homophobia during adolescence are likely to grow even more extreme in their views in the transition to adulthood.

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