Spanish LGBTQ+ Youth and the Role of Online Networks During the First Wave of Covid‐19
During the lockdown measures put in place at the time of the first wave of the Covid‐19 pandemic in Spain (March through June 2020), LGBTQ+ youth lived through a particularly stressful situation that has so far received little attention. Confined in homes that are often hostile to their sexuality, struggling with the transition to online classes, they reached out to Internet social networks to obtain the support most of them lack in person. This article explores the role of technology for LGBTQ+ youth during a period when the educational environment was not supportive of students’ sexuality and identity needs. The research assesses correlations between the use of online social networks and the perceptions of support received from others (using the concepts of social support, thwarted belongingness and burdensomeness, and cohabitation in their homes). The study involves a sample of 445 Spanish participants aged 13 to 21. A descriptive multivariate analysis of variance and bivariate correlations was performed. We found that social networks were very important for LGBTQ+ youth during the pandemic, helping them to explore their identities, but could also be a source of violence. In this regard, while trans and nonbinary youth’s use of social networks to contact acquaintances show important differences when compared to that of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, the former group also experiences more violence coming from these networks, finds less social support through them, and feels a stronger sense of burdensomeness in relation to them. Additionally, they were often living with people other than family members during the lockdown. This data suggests the need to offer specific support and online services for LGBTQ+ youth, particularly for trans and nonbinary youth.
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