Lesbian and Bisexual Female Youths Aged 14 to 21: Developmental Challenges and Victimization Experiences: Anthony R. D’Augelli
Pages 21

Increasing attention has been directed toward the challenges and developmental pathways of lesbian and bisexual female youths, who have been studied much less often than gay and bisexual male youths (Schneider, 2001). There are only a handful of research reports that deal exclusively with lesbian and bisexual females under the age of 21. With the emergence of population-based studies of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths during the 1990s (e.g., Remafedi, French, Story, Resnick, & Blum, 1998), more information about lesbian and bisexual youths has become available. For instance, Saewyc and her colleagues have conducted several population-based studies of health and mental health risk behavior of lesbian and bisexual adolescents (e.g., Saewyc, Bearinger, Heinz, Blum, & Resnick, 1998). Diamond (1998) demonstrated the variability of identity development patterns found among young females with same-sex sexual attractions. Research on young lesbian and bisexual females, however, does not often focus simultaneously on developmental and contextual factors that influence their adjustment. These youths’ development cannot be well understood without an analysis of their social contexts-their families, their peer social networks, their school circumstances, and their communities. Specifically, the adolescent years are especially challenging for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths because of the age at which they self-identify (a developmental factor) and because they are living at home and are in junior or senior high school (contextual factors). Of course, just as there are individual differ-

ences in the developmental processes leading to adult sexual identities, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths differ substantially in the nature of the social contexts they contend with. Both the life stressors as well as the resources of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths need to be identified to determine the nature of the relationship between these stressors, resources, and adjustment.