Submission Date


Document Type



Media & Communication Studies

Faculty Mentor

Lynne Edwards

Project Description

LGBTQ adolescents, like all youth, face challenges: the push for high academic marks, the desire for positive relationships, and the right to be themselves in a safe environment. Unfortunately, LGBTQ youths are far more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying and cyberbullying. According to a 2005 study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, the second largest cause of bullying was actual or presumed sexual orientation or identity. Gay males were more than twice as likely to be bullied on school property than their heterosexual peers, 43.1% and 18.3%, respectively (Olsen et al, 2014). In addition, 23.1% of bisexual adolescents were found to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, compared to 7.8% of their heterosexual peers (Mueller, et al., 2015). This stark difference represents a problem that this study sought to address. Using focus group methodology, 13 self-identified LGBTQ youths aged 10 – 19 years old were interviewed about their perceptions of cyberbullying and self-disclosure. Preliminary analysis suggests that these youths share common perceptions of cyberbullying, but they differ in their experiences with direct and indirect effects of cyberbullying. Additionally, these youths are particularly savvy about the complexities involved in managing their privacy and identities online and offline.


Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Supported by a National Science Foundation Research at Undergraduate Institutions (NSF RUI) grant (No. 1421896).

Open Access

Available to all.