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Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services

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Homophobic bullying is pervasive and deleterious, and a source of extensive health and mental health disparities affecting sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY). Investigations conducted over the past two decades across the social ecology of SGMY indicate individual (e.g., gender), microsystem (e.g., schools), and exosystem level (e.g., community norms) factors associated with homophobic bullying. Emerging evidence at the macrosystem level demonstrates the powerful influence of laws, policies, and ideologies on the population health of sexual minority adults. Based on social ecological theory and emerging evidence at the macrosystem level, we advance a conceptualization of the religious social ecology of homophobic bullying and articulate the construct of conversion bullying, a form of bias-based bullying that may be unique to SGMY. Conversion bullying is manifested in the invocation of religious rhetoric and rationalizations in repeated acts of peer aggression against SGMY that cause harm, based on the premise that same-sex attractions and behaviors are immoral or unnatural and with implicit or explicit communication that one should change one's sexuality to conform to heteronormative ideals. We describe implications of conversion bullying for social work practice, education, social policy, and research. note: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Journal of Sex Research on Feb. 2015, available online:


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work

Publication Date




Available for download on Wednesday, January 01, 3000

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Social Work Commons