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Impact of Social Media Platforms and Search Engines on Identity Expression Within the LGBTQ+ Community

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Social media consumption habits predict non-monosexuals’ (people who are neither gay nor straight) communication with dominant groups. Using a survey (N = 716), the study applies co-cultural theory to evaluate how they respond to discrimination. The findings of this study indicate that non-monosexuals are heavy users of social media and that it plays a significant role in their perceptions of their environment. Several lifestyle variables, including their field of experience, ability, and perceptions of costs and rewards, can predict the outcomes that non-monosexuals seek when responding to discrimination. Furthermore, social media moderate those relationships.

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Factors associated with the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth were qualitatively examined to better understand how these factors are experienced from the youths’ perspectives

Largely recruited from LGBTQ youth groups, 68 youth participated in focus groups (n = 63) or individual interviews (n = 5). The sample included 50% male, 47% female, and 3% transgender participants. Researchers used a consensual methods approach to identify negative and positive factors across 8 domains. Negative factors were associated with families, schools, religious institutions, and community or neighborhood; positive factors were associated with the youth's own identity development, peer networks, and involvement in the LGBTQ community. These findings suggest a pervasiveness of negative experiences in multiple contexts, and the importance of fostering a positive LGBTQ identity and supportive peer/community networks. Efforts should work towards reducing and eliminating the prejudicial sentiments often present in the institutions and situations that LGBTQ youth encounter.

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Social media is rapidly changing the landscape within which young people negotiate their lives, introducing new complications in the balance between public and private selves. Information which may previously have been shared with only a few close network members is now easily communicated to the farthest reaches of one’s Facebook network, which may be just as likely to include close friends as it is to include old classmates, casual acquaintances, and extended family members with strong political differences. This phenomenon of heightened interconnection and reduced social boundaries across diverse network subgroups, known as context collapse, has far-reaching implications for how young people negotiate their identities in online spaces [Hogan B. Bull. Sci

Technol. Soc. 2010]. It is of particular importance to LGBTQ young people, who are faced with the task of negotiating how they manage their sexual and gender identities on social media. However, the online contexts of LGBTQ young people have been understudied due to a focus on the experiences of members of dominant groups [Alper M., Katz V.S., Clark L.S.].

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After all, posting support links on social media sites that do not require someone to go searching could facilitate support for those in need

When someone is depressed, having the motivation to find a phone number or support group is not easy. Social media sites could begin listing the national suicide phone number directly on their homepage, strictly to help those in need, whether they are LGBT youth or any other individual. Education in school for children and education for parents about acceptance could benefit everyone. Young people must be reminded that we are all different and need to accept one another rather than pass judgment, because everyone has their own struggles.

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Duguay S. “He has a way gayer Facebook than I do”: Investigating sexual identity disclosure and context collapse on a social networking site. New Media Soc. 2016;18:891–907. doi:

Fox J., Ralston R. Queer identity online: Informal learning and teaching experiences of LGBTQ individuals on social media. Comput. Hum. Behav. 2016;65:635–642.

Hogan B. The presentation of self in the age of social media: Distinguishing performances and exhibitions online. Bull. Sci. Technol. Soc. 2010;30:377–386.

Vitak J., Ellison N.B. ‘There’s a network out there you might as well tap’: Exploring the benefits of and barriers to exchanging informational and support-based resources on Facebook.

Alper M., Katz V.S., Clark L.S. Researching children, intersectionality, and diversity in the digital age. J. Child. Media. 2016

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