Volume index - Journal index - Article index - Map ---- Back

Comunicar Journal 75: Youth, gender identity and power in digital platforms (Vol. 31 - 2023)

Even if they don't say it to you, it hurts too: Internalized homonegativity in LGBTQ+ cyberbullying among adolescents


Mónica Ojeda

Esperanza Espino

Paz Elipe

Rosario del-Rey


Cyberbullying is a problem that is more prevalent and serious among LGBTQ+ people. Previous research has mostly analysed sexual orientation and homophobic cyberaggression. Hence, becomes necessary to consider sex-gender diversity as a whole and aggressions of a general nature. Moreover, existing prejudices underline the need to consider homonegativity as a key variable in this type of cyberviolence. This sequential mixed study explores, in a first qualitative step with focus groups, perceptions on the characterisation of LGBTQ+ cyberbullying and, in a second quantitative step, cybervictimisation in terms of affective-sexual, bodily and gender diversity, and the possible moderating role of internalised homonegativity. The qualitative study involved 175 students and the quantitative study involved 1,971 students aged 12-18 from secondary schools in Andalusia (Spain). Qualitative results identified valuable dimensions of cyberbullying, such as collective LGBTQ+ cybervictimisation. Quantitative results revealed differences in collective LGBTQ+ cybervictimisation according to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. It also highlights the moderation of internalised homonegativity, with those at a low level being more sensitive to collective LGBTQ+ cyberaggression. LGBTQ+ cyberbullying is made visible as a construct that includes various types of aggressions aimed at the whole spectrum of affective-sexual diversity and emphasises the need to address internalised homonegativity in psychoeducational interventions involving all students.


Cybervictimisation, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, homonegativity, adolescents

PDF file in Spanish

PDF file in English


Abreu, R.L., & Kenny, M.C. (2018). Cyberbullying and LGBTQ youth: A systematic literature review and recommendations for prevention and intervention. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 11(1), 81-97. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-017-0175-7

Akers, W.P., Cashwell, C.S., & Blake, S.D. (2021). Relationship satisfaction and outness: The impact of the closet on connection. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681994.2021.1937597

Angoff, H.D., & Barnhart, W.R. (2021). Bullying and cyberbullying among LGBQ and heterosexual youth from an intersectional perspective: Findings from the 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Journal of School Violence, 20(3), 274-286. https://doi.org/10.1080/15388220.2021.1879099

Austin, S.B., Conron, K.J., Patel, A., & Freedner, N. (2008). Making sense of sexual orientation measures: Findings from a cognitive processing study with adolescents on health survey questions. Journal of LGBT Health Research, 3(1), 55-65. https://doi.org/10.1300/J463v03n01_07

Berg, R.C., Munthe-Kaas, H.M., & Ross, M.W. (2016). Internalized homonegativity: A Systematic mapping review of empirical research. Journal ofHomosexuality, 63(4), 541-558. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2015.1083788

Bradlow, J., Bartram, F., Guasp, G., & Jadva, V. (2017). School report: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people in Britain’s schools in 2017. Stonewall. https://bit.ly/2NlpOai

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2014). What can “thematic analysis” offer health and wellbeing researchers? International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.3402/qhw.v9.26152

Camodeca, M., Baiocco, R., & Posa, O. (2018). Homophobic bullying and victimization among adolescents: The role of prejudice, moral disengagement, and sexual orientation. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 16(5), 503-521. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2018.1466699

Campbell, M., & Bauman, S. (2018). Cyberbullying: Definition, consequences, prevalence. Reducing Cyberbullying in Schools: International Evidence-Based Best Practices, 3-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-811423-0.00001-8

Campbell, M., Spears, B., Slee, P., Butler, D., & Kift, S. (2012). Victims’ perceptions of traditional and cyberbullying, and the psychosocial correlates of their victimisation. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 17(3-4), 389-401. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632752.2012.704316

Carden, S.W., Holtzman, N.S., & Strube, M.J. (2017). CAHOST: An excel workbook for facilitating the Johnson-Neyman technique for two-way interactions in multiple regression. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01293

Cohen-Almagor, R. (2018). Social responsibility on the Internet: Addressing the challenge of cyberbullying. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 39, 42-52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.01.001

Collier, K.L., Van-Beusekom, G., Bos, H.M.W., & Sandfort, T.G.M. (2013). Sexual orientation and gender identity/expression related peer victimization in adolescence: A systematic review of associated psychosocial and health outcomes. The Journal of Sex Research, 50(3-4), 299-317. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2012.750639

Cover, R. (2022). Digital hostility, subjectivity and ethics: Theorising the disruption of identity in instances of mass online abuse and hate speech. Convergence. https://doi.org/10.1177/13548565221122908

Davidson, R., & MacKinnon, J.G. (1993). Estimation and inference in econometrics. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266466600009452

Del-Rey, R., Casas, J.A., Ortega-Ruiz, R., Schultze-Krumbholz, A., Scheithauer, H., Smith, P., Thompson, F., Barkoukis, V., Tsorbatzoudis, H., Brighi, A., Guarini, A., Py?alski, J., & Plichta, P. (2015). Structural validation and cross-cultural robustness of the European Cyberbullying Intervention Project Questionnaire. Computers in Human Behavior, 50, 141-147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.03.065

Del-Rey, R., Mora-Merchán, J., Casas, J., Ortega-Ruiz, R., & Elipe, P. (2018). 'Asegúrate' Program: Effects on cyber-aggression and its risk factors. [Programa «Asegúrate»: Efectos en ciberagresión y sus factores de riesgo]. Comunicar, 56, 39-48. https://doi.org/10.3916/C56-2018-04

Döring, N., Bhana, D., & Albury, K. (2022). Digital sexual identities: Between empowerment and disempowerment. Current Opinion in Psychology, 48, 101466. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2022.101466

Earnshaw, V.A., Reisner, S.L., Menino, D.D., Poteat, V.P., Bogart, L.M., Barnes, T.N., & Schuster, M.A. (2018). Stigma-based bullying interventions: A systematic review. Developmental Review, 48, 178-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2018.02.001

Elipe, P., & Martos-Castro, M. (2022). Abriendo armarios: La visión del alumnado sobre la diversidad afectivo sexual en las aulas. Revista de Estudios Socioeducativos. ReSed, 1(10), 119-135. https://doi.org/10.25267/Rev_estud_socioeducativos.2022.i10.08

Elipe, P., Espelage, D.L., & Del-Rey, R. (2022). Homophobic verbal and bullying victimization: Overlap and emotional impact. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 19, 1178-1189. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-021-00613-7

Espelage, D.L., Valido, A., Hatchel, T., Ingram, K.M., Huang, Y., & Torgal, C. (2019). A literature review of protective factors associated with homophobic bullying and its consequences among children & adolescents. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 45, 98-110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.07.003

Garaigordobil, M., & Larrain, E. (2020). Bullying and cyberbullying in LGBT adolescents: Prevalence and effects on mental health. [Acoso y ciberacoso en adolescentes LGTB: Prevalencia y efectos en la salud mental]. Comunicar, 62, 79-90. https://doi.org/10.3916/C62-2020-07

Gower, A.L., Rider, G.N., Coleman, E., Brown, C., McMorris, B.J., & Eisenberg, M.E. (2018). Perceived gender presentation among transgender and gender diverse youth: Approaches to analysis and associations with bullying victimization and emotional distress. LGBT Health, 5(5), 312-319. https://doi.org/10.1089/lgbt.2017.0176

Hayes, A.F. (2017). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. Guilford Publications. http://bitly.ws/uBtc

Heino, E., Ellonen, N., & Kaltiala, R. (2021). Transgender identity is associated with bullying involvement among finnish adolescents. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 3829. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.612424

Herek, G.M. (2007). Confronting sexual stigma and prejudice: Theory and practice. Journal of Social Issues, 63(4), 905-925. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2007.00544.x

Jonas, L., Salazar-De-Pablo, G., Shum, M., Chiara, N., Abbott, C., & Vaquerizo-Serrano, J. (2022). A systematic review and meta-analysis investigating the impact of childhood adversities on the mental health of LGBT+ youth. JCPP Advances, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcv2.12079

Kosciw, J.G., Greytak, E.A., Zongrone, A.D., Clark, C.M., & Truong, N.L. (2018). The 2017 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in our nation’s schools. https://bit.ly/3SHBhzb

Kowalski, R.M., Limber, S.P., & McCord, A. (2019). A developmental approach to cyberbullying: Prevalence and protective factors. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 45, 20-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2018.02.009

Kwan, I., Dickson, K., Richardson, M., MacDowall, W., Burchett, H., Stansfield, C., Brunton, G., Sutcliffe, K., & Thomas, J. (2020). Cyberbullying and children and young people’s mental health: A systematic map of systematic reviews. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(2), 72-82. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2019.0370

Llorent, V.J., Ortega-Ruiz, R., & Zych, I. (2016). Bullying and cyberbullying in minorities: Are they more vulnerable than the majority group? Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1507. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01507

Mascheroni, G., Vincent, J., & Jimenez, E. (2015). “Girls are addicted to likes so they post semi-naked selfies”: Peer mediation, normativity and the construction of identity online. Cyberpsychology, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2015-1-5

Menin, D., Guarini, A., Mameli, C., Skrzypiec, G., & Brighi, A. (2021). Was that (cyber)bullying? Investigating the operational definitions of bullying and cyberbullying from adolescents’ perspective. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 21(2), 100221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijchp.2021.100221

Mohr, J.J., & Kendra, M.S. (2011). Revision and extension of a multidimensional measure of sexual minority identity: The lesbian, gay, and bisexual identity scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(2), 234-245. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022858

Montero, I., & León, O.G. (2007). A guide for naming research studies in Psychology. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 7(3), 847-862. https://bit.ly/2wVCuhY

Olweus, D., & Limber, S.P. (2018). Some problems with cyberbullying research. Current Opinion in Psychology, 19, 139-143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.04.012

Osuna, J.R., Ferreras, M.L., & Núñez, A. (1991). Inferencia estadística, niveles de precisión y diseño muestral. Reis, 54, 139-162. https://doi.org/10.2307/40183521

Petrou, P., & Lemke, R. (2017). Victimisation and life satisfaction of gay and bisexual individuals in 44 european countries: the moderating role of country-level and person-level attitudes towards homosexuality. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 20(6), 640-657. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2017.1368710

Pichardo, J.I., & Puche-Cabezas, L. (2019). Universidad y diversidad sexogenérica: Barreras, innovaciones y retos de futuro. Methaodos, 7(1), 10-26. https://doi.org/10.17502/m.rcs.v7i1.287

Puckett, J.A., Newcomb, M.E., Garofalo, R., & Mustanski, B. (2016). The impact of victimization and neuroticism on mental health in young men who have sex with men: Internalized homophobia as an underlying mechanism. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 13(3), 193-201. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-016-0239-8

Quirk, K., Newcomb, M.E., & Mustanski, B. (2018). LGBQ identity integration and the association with justification of violence. Psychology of Violence, 8(2), 184-195. https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000089

Rice, E., Petering, R., Rhoades, H., Winetrobe, H., Goldbach, J., Plant, A., Montoya, J., & Kordic, T. (2015). Cyberbullying perpetration and victimization among middle-school students. American Journal of Public Health, 105(3), e66-e72. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302393

Rodríguez-Hidalgo, A.J., & Hurtado-Mellado, A. (2019). Prevalence and psychosocial predictors of homophobic victimization among adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(7). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071243

Russell, G.M., & Bohan, J.S. (2006). The case of internalized homophobia: Theory and/as practice. Theory & Psychology, 16(3), 343-366. https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354306064283

Sampieri, R.H. (2018). Metodología de la investigación: Las rutas cuantitativa, cualitativa y mixta. McGraw Hill México. https://bit.ly/3HBGHcO

Smahel, D., Machackova, H., Mascheroni, G., Dedkova, L., Staksrud, E., Ólafsson, K., Livingstone, S., & Hasebrink, U. (2020). EU Kids Online 2020: Survey results from 19 countries. EU Kids Online, The Londo School of Economics and Political Science. https://doi.org/10.21953/lse.47fdeqj01ofo

UNESCO (Ed.) (2017). Abiertamente: Respuestas del sector de educación a la violencia basada en la orientación sexual y la identidad/expresión de género. UNESCO. https://bit.ly/2XBnIs7

Vinces, J.M. (2016). Adaptación de la Escala de Identidad para Lesbianas, Gays y Bisexuales (LGBIS) en un grupo de lesbianas, gays y bisexuales del Perú. [Degree dissertation, Universidad de Lima]. http://bitly.ws/xCNu

Vivolo-Kantor, A.M., Martell, B.N., Holland, K.M., & Westby, R. (2014). A systematic review and content analysis of bullying and cyber-bullying measurement strategies. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19(4), 423-434. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2014.06.008

Wright, M.F. (2020). Popularity and social preference pressure from parents, friends, and the media. Youth & Society, 52(3), 332-348. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X18773222

Wylie, S.A., Corliss, H.L., Boulanger, V., Prokop, L.A., & Austin, S.B. (2010). Socially assigned gender nonconformity: A brief measure for use in surveillance and investigation of health disparities. Sex Roles, 63(3), 264-276. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9798-y