Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Goldberg, Rebecca

Committee Member

Mazahreh, Laith

Committee Member

Tinlan, Wei

Committee Member

Qiana, Cutts

Committee Member

Kelly, Kimberly

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Counselor Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


The current study is a secondary analysis examining the role of fear of discrimination and its influence and relationship with heterosexist discrimination, social support, and mental health distress among LGBTQ+ adults in the Deep South. A sample of 500 LGBTQ+ identified adults living across Mississippi completed a comprehensive needs assessment survey tapping into nine life domains. The current study investigated fear of discrimination as a form of rejection sensitivity utilizing the minority stress framework (Meyer, 1995, 2003). Mediating and moderating influences within the minority stress model were examined using series of regression analysis. Fear of discrimination operated as a mechanism through which discrimination negatively impacts mental health; participants who experienced higher levels of discrimination had greater fear and increased rates of mental health distress in the current study. Family support diminished the impact of discrimination on mental health distress. In other words, LGBTQ+ individuals with higher levels of family support were somewhat protected against the deleterious effects of discrimination and mental health distress. Community-level support, including availability of local LGBTQ+ organizations, networks, and protective policies, did not influence the relationship between discrimination and mental health. However, decreased levels of community-level support among participants in this sample appeared to negatively impact mental health. The current study provides new understanding of the stressors surrounding LGBTQ+ individuals lives, particularly with regard to the chronic state of fear experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals. Members of LGBTQ+ communities in the Deep South may experience more intense and chronic fear in daily interactions. Implications for counselors, counselor educators, and researchers are discussed.



Minority stress||LGBTQ||Social support||Sexuality||Gender||Discrimination||Fear||Mental Health