The Effects of Identity-Based Victimization on Youth
While a large body of research has established high prevalence rates of discrimination (i.e., unfair treatment because of perceived or claimed membership in a particular identity group) in youth and its negative impact on both mental health and academic outcomes (Fisher, Wallace, & Fenton, 2000; Russel et al., 2012), less is known about the effects of identity-based bullying (i.e., verbal or physical assaults targeting identity(ies)). In addition, very few studies examine both everyday forms of discrimination and identity-based bullying, and even fewer assess the differing experiences of youth with intersectional identities (i.e., multiple oppressed identities; Garnett et al., 2014). Finally, no studies to date have examined the potentially protective role of teacher-student relationships for youth facing identity-based victimization. The current study sought to examine the impact of identity-based victimization (i.e., discrimination and identity-based bullying) on mental health and academic achievement in a large and diverse sample of youth who were assessed longitudinally. To capture the complexity of the outcomes associated with identity-based victimization for youth with an oppressed gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or race, an intersectional framework was used. Finally, the present dissertation examined the role of teacher-student relationships as a potential source of protection for students facing identity-based victimization. Results from the present study indicated that identity-based victimization is a pervasive problem that is negatively associated with mental health and academic achievement in adolescents. Findings suggested that intersectional students face a higher risk of experiencing identity-based victimization, and mental health challenges when confronted with above average discrimination. Autonomy-enhancing and positive teacher student relationships had a moderating effect on the association between identity based victimization and mental health for some youth, but not others. Implications of these findings for research, assessment, and intervention are discussed.