Kathleen Buehler, Research staff
mentorship, LGBTQ youth
INTRODUCTION: While both mentorship research and mentorship programs have been increasing in the United States, limited research exists on mentorship for LGBTQ youth. One national survey of youth mentoring agencies found that, out of 1,451 programs, only 4 served predominantly LGBTQ youth (Garringer, McQuillin, & McDaniel, 2017). Recent research has focused on informal mentoring for LGBTQ youth, but more research is needed to explore the kinds of people that LGBTQ youth seek out. Past literature on youth mentorship both supports and challenges the necessity of racial and gender similarity between mentees and mentors (Sánchez et al., 2005). For LGBTQ youth, even less is known about the importance or possibility of sharing such characteristics with a mentor. OBJECTIVES: The primary objective of this study was to determine if the presence of a mentor, racial similarity to a mentor, gender similarity to a mentor, and GBQ similarity to a mentor was predicted by participant race, gender, and sexual orientation. We also sought to determine if gender, race, and sexual orientation determined the likelihood of a mentor’s role overlapping with another role. METHODS: This study used network and survey data from a longitudinal cohort study of 1029 YMSM. In network interviews, participants were asked to identify individuals in their lives and classify their relationship to the participant. Participants also completed a demographic questionnaire. Logistic regression models were calculated to determine if participant gender, race, and sexual orientation was associated with the presence of a mentor, mentor role-overlapping, and racial, gender, and GBQ similarity. RESULTS: Black/African American (OR=2.07) and transgender women participants (OR=1.99) were more likely to identify someone as a mentor. Hispanic/Latinx participants were less likely to share the same race/ethnicity as the person they identified as a mentor (OR=0.17). Bisexual participants were less likely to have an LGBQ mentor (OR=0.45). Black/African American participants were more likely to identify a family member as a mentor (OR=1.87), whereas queer identified participants were less likely to identify a family member as a mentor (OR=0.18). CONCLUSION: Black and transgender women being more likely to identify a mentor may suggest that experiences of marginalization or being a minority makes someone more likely to seek out and include mentors in their social circles. However, in terms of sharing characteristics, Hispanic/Latinx and bisexual participants may lack access to Hispanic/Latinx and LGBQ mentors, or may not prioritize sharing these characteristics. Future directions of this research could include investigating whether matched-race or sexual orientation mentorships provide similar or different benefits for participants. Additionally, future research could qualitatively explore the importance of sharing characteristics and how LGBTQ youth prioritize these when seeking out mentorship.