When biased language use is associated with bullying and dominance behavior: the moderating effect of prejudice

V Paul Poteat, Craig D Digiovanni
Journal of Youth and Adolescence 2010, 39 (10): 1123-33
Biased language related to sexual orientation is used frequently among students and is related to prominent social concerns such as bullying. Prejudice toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals also has been examined among adolescents, but separately from these behaviors. This study tested whether biased language use was associated with bullying and dominance irrespective of sexual prejudice or if sexual prejudice moderated these associations among 290 high school students (50% female; 56% White). Sexual prejudice was associated with biased language use among boys only. Biased language was associated with bullying regardless of levels of sexual prejudice for boys. However, this association was dependent on sexual prejudice for girls. For dominance behavior, its association with biased language was moderated by sexual prejudice for boys, but not girls. However, girls' engagement in all behaviors was significantly less than boys. These results indicate nuanced ways in which multiple factors contribute to the use of sexual orientation biased language. Also, they underscore the need to address biased language and prejudice as part of anti-bullying programs.

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