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Paul R. Sterzing

Associate Professor

PAUL R. STERZING, PhD is an associate professor at the School of Social Welfare and a graduate of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Sterzing is currently the Co-chair of the MSW Program, Co-director of the Center for Prevention Research in Social Welfare, and a faculty affiliate with the Gender and Women Studies Department.

Dr. Sterzing was the principal investigator for SpeakOut—a three-year study funded by the National Institute of Justice—to identify the lifetime and last year polyvictimization rates for a large, national sample of sexual and gender minority adolescents. SpeakOut provided the first comprehensive examination of more than 40 different forms of victimization from across different contexts (e.g., home, school, community, online) and perpetrators (e.g., parents, siblings, peers, dating partners). Compared to previous estimates, sexual and gender minority adolescents were polyvictimized at nearly twice the national rate (39.3% vs. 20%). Moreover, adolescents who identify as transgender or genderqueer were significantly more likely to be polyvictimized in the last year compared to their cisgender-sexual-minority male counterparts.

I also propose two new family typologies, LGBTQ microaffirming and LGBTQ microaggressing, to explain differential rates of mental health problems, peer rejection, extrafamilial victimization, and polyvictimization within this population. Overall, sexual and gender minority adolescents in families with high-levels of microaggressions, violence, and non-violent adversity were at greater risk for polyvictimization, with posttraumatic stress functioning as the primary mechanism bridging familial and extrafamilial victimization. These findings suggest addressing trauma symptoms stemming from these family experiences of microaggressions, violence, and non-violent adversity could reduce rates of peer rejection, extrafamilial victimization, and polyvictimization for sexual and gender minority adolescents.

Research/Expertise

  • Polyvictimization of vulnerable adolescents
  • Bullying involvement roles and peer rejection
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions
  • Impact of family-level microaggressions and microaffirmations on mental health and extrafamilial forms of victimization
  • Impact of mental and behavioral health problems on rates of revictimization

Teaching

COURSES

  • MSW: Theories for Multi-level Practice (SW 200)
  • MSW: Seminar in Social Welfare Research (SW 282a / SW 282b)
  • Doctoral: Group Study in Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Research (SW 298)

Current Projects

In the News

SpeakOut - National LGBTQ Youth Victimization Study
SpeakOut - Importance of the Study
SpeakOut Consent Video

Curriculum Vitae