Children Will Listen
Research examining the health of sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth has expanded recently from a focus on how social contexts are linked to health risk to ways they promote wellbeing. The positive youth development (PYD) framework has been increasingly used to conceptualize how various social contexts may promote SGM youth wellbeing, as well as help them engage in community-level change through contribution efforts. There is limited research examining how the family context may promote PYD outcomes and contribution for SGM youth, despite the setting’s association with positive development for heterosexual/cisgender youth. Furthermore, there is a paucity of literature contextualizing family support for SGM identities alongside other measures of family relationships.Parent-child attachment and family cohesion are two measures of family-child relationships that have historically been linked to positive development in youth. They have been linked to various markers of positive development in youth, including confidence, care for others, hope, and gratitude, which in turn may promote greater advocacy and community engagement. This study examined a structural model testing the role of several measures of family relationships in predicting PYD qualities and contribution behaviors for SGM youth. Among 270 SGM youth, structural equation modeling analyses tested the relationship between family relationships with SGM youth (parent-child attachment, family cohesion, and SGM-specific support) and PYD qualities (confidence, care for others, hope, and gratitude) as well as contribution behaviors (advocacy beliefs and community engagement), as mediated by PYD qualities over a six month period. Results indicated that each measure of family relationships was uniquely associated with various PYD qualities and contribution in participants. Furthermore, care for others acted as an indirect pathway through which parent-child attachment was associated with greater advocacy and community engagement for participants. These findings position families as having a role in promoting SGM youth wellbeing within the larger community and contextualize how various markers of family relationships promote select PYD qualities and behaviors. Future research should continue to investigate the longitudinal role of positive family relationships in SGM youth development and how a more nuanced understanding of these relationships may have clinical applications for practitioners and youth wellbeing.