Date of Submission
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP
Takako Suzuki, Ph.D, Chairperson
Virginia Salzer, Ph.D.
Emily Chernicoff, Psy.D.
Andrea Bloomgarden, Ph.D.
Despite the prevalence of discrimination in American society, little is known about the effects of equal rights activism on mental health. Within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, discrimination against marriage, adoption, employment, and other rights and privileges given to heterosexual individuals is still legal and socially accepted in most American communities. Previous research has suggested that these individuals have higher incidences of depression, anxiety, and substance use than the general population. The experience of discrimination and punishment responses learned from societal messages is believed to contribute to these clinical issues within this community. This qualitative study found that equal rights activism is effective in reducing depression and anxiety within the gay community. Principles of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy explain the phenomena of improved mental health during the process of coming out to oneself, coming out to others, and participating in activism to improve the rights and privileges of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
Baker, David E., "Psychological Effects of Not Having Equal Rights and Privileges in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community: Activism as an Antidote?" (2007). PCOM Psychology Dissertations. 4.