Middle Eastern and Northern African LGBTQ Young People

Apr 20, 2023
  • Description

LGBTQ young people are more likely to report mental health concerns – including  depression, anxiety, and suicidality – in comparison to their straight and cisgender peers (Johns et al., 2019; Johns et al., 2020). These reports are often due to minority stress experiences, such as identity-related discrimination and victimization, rather than simply being LGBTQ (Meyer, 2003). After a call for intersectional research on health disparities by the National Institutes of Health (NIH, 2015), some research has begun to illuminate the impact of having multiple marginalized identities (e.g., being LGBTQ and a person of color) on mental health outcomes (Cyrus, 2017). However, very little research has explored the mental health of Middle Eastern and Northern African (MENA) LGBTQ young people (Hayek et al., 2022). Despite representing over 20 countries and being considered non-White by the majority of other Western countries (Maghbouleh et al., 2022), MENA people have historically been considered both a monolithic population in the United States (U.S.) and White by the U.S. Census (Abboud et al., 2019). Thus, little research has explored the mental health of MENA people, as they are often combined with White people in literature. However, a systematic review found that MENA LGBTQ people frequently report symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress, suicidal ideation, and substance misuse, which is often tied to societal and cultural stressors that are unique to MENA people, such as a lack of sexual health awareness and anti-LGBTQ stigma and persecution (Hayek et al., 2022). Specific to young people, research by GLSEN suggests that MENA LGBTQ young people experience higher rates of school-based victimization than their non-MENA peers, which is related to depressive symptoms and poor self-esteem (Truong & Kosciw, 2022). Using data from The Trevor Project's 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, this brief will be one of the first to exclusively explore the mental health of MENA LGBTQ young people, separately from White LGBTQ young people.