Youth on the Virtual Edge: Researching Marginalized Sexualities and Genders Online.

Published: November 7, 2011

Abstract

Research shows clear links between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and deliberate self-harm (DSH), but there is a lack of research investigating the social context of young LGBT people’s lives and helping to explain the higher DSH risk. In this article, we report on a small-scale methodological study intended to test the feasibility of online qualitative interviews for investigating young people, sexual and gender identity, and emotional distress. There are many methodological dilemmas arising from researching such sensitive issues with marginalized groups. The study reported here was designed to examine (a) sampling diversity in terms of sexuality, gender identities, and class; and (b) the type of data produced. We found that a virtual methodology was effective in recruiting young LGBT participants who might otherwise not take part in research. Online interviewing successfully produced in-depth, "immediate" data that potentially gave access to insights that might not emerge through face-to face interviews.

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