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Primary Caregiver, Sibling Acceptance of LGBTQIA+ Family Members

Religion has been shown to help mitigate negative mental health outcomes by promoting positive coping styles and spiritual support (Brewster et al., 2016); however, it is important to understand potential negative impacts religion may have on the LGBTQIA+ community considering many religious beliefs labeling sexual or gender minorities as sinful (Macbeth et al., 2021). There is extensive research outlining the mental health disparities that the LGBTQIA+ community faces and explanations for the disparities. One such example is that it is estimated that 40% of the LGBTQIA+ community has been rejected by a family member or close family friend (Pew Research Center, 2021). The current study aimed to investigate how primary caregiver and sibling acceptance may predict internalized stigma and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) frequency within LGBTQIA+ individuals who grew up in religious households. The motivation behind this project was to contribute to improving the mental health outcomes of LGBTQIA+ individuals who grew up in highly religious households by investigating how familial support may decrease internalized stigma and NSSI.
I approached this project by measuring acceptance of primary caregivers and siblings with the Family Acceptance Scale (Miller et al., 2020) and openness of the LGBTQIA+ individual with their family using the Openness Inventory (Mohr & Fassinger, 2000). Additionally, I measured the participants’ internalized stigma levels with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Internalized Stigma scale (Mohr & Kendra, 2011) and their NSSI frequency levels with the Self Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors revised scale (Fox et al., 2020). Results demonstrated that primary caregiver support predicted NSSI but not internalized stigma whereas sibling support predicted internalized stigma but not NSSI. This study demonstrates that family acceptance does carry weight. Moreover, having primary caregivers and sibling acceptance predicting different things may denote that there may be different mechanisms at play.