Presenting Author:

Arielle Zimmerman, Research staff

Principal Investigator:

Michael Newcomb



monosexism, depression, sexual minority youth, LGBTQ


Third Floor, Feinberg Pavilion, Northwestern Memorial Hospital

PH67 - Public Health & Social Sciences

The Link between Monosexism and Depression in Sexual Minority Youth

Bisexual individuals are at higher risk for depressive disorders than heterosexual, lesbian, and gay individuals (Ross et al., 2017). The unique stigma that bisexual and other non-monosexual individuals experience (monosexism) is theorized to explain their increased risk for poor mental health outcomes (Brewster, Moradi, DeBlaere, & Velez, 2013). This unique stigma includes experiences of hostility and exclusion from heterosexual and lesbian/gay communities (Balsam & Mohr, 2007). Additionally, non-monosexual individuals are stereotyped as promiscuous, untrustworthy, and confused about their sexual orientation (Brewster & Moradi, 2010). A few studies have linked experiencing monosexism with depressive symptoms (Molina et al., 2015). The current study examines the monosexism/depression link and explores if this association differs among non-monosexual subgroups (bisexual, pansexual, queer). We examined correlations between the frequency of monosexist experiences, anticipated monosexism, and symptoms of depression in a sample of 237 non-monosexual youth (16-20 years old) individuals assigned female at birth from the Chicago area. Monosexist experiences were broken down by source: from heterosexual individuals, and from lesbian/gay individuals. We then examined these correlations separately within three subgroups: 104 bisexual, 61 pansexual, and 46 queer individuals. In the full sample, non-monosexual individuals who reported more frequent experiences of interpersonal rejection and being stereotyped as unsure about their sexual orientation from heterosexual individuals reported more depressive symptoms. Higher anticipated monosexism was also positively correlated with depression. Among bisexual individuals, being stereotyped as confused about their sexual orientation by heterosexual individuals and higher anticipated monosexism were associated with more symptoms of depression. A similar pattern of correlations was present in the queer-identified subsample. However, among pansexual individuals, experiences of monosexism from heterosexual individuals were not associated with symptoms of depression. These findings indicate that stigma from heterosexual, rather than lesbian/gay individuals, may drive depressive symptoms among young queer and bisexual-identified individuals. Non-monosexuals in this sample reported low levels of monosexism from lesbian/gay individuals, which may explain why monosexism from lesbian/gay individuals was not associated with depression. Anticipated monosexism also appears to contribute to depression among queer and bisexual youth. In terms of the pansexual subgroup, the lack of associations may be due to higher community support within this group, which can shield from the negative health effects of non-monosexual stigma. Future studies should examine how social support mediates the association between monosexism and depression in various non-monosexual subgroups.