The contribution of school safety to weight-related health behaviors for transgender youth

Jessica Pistella, Salvatore Ioverno, Melissa A. Rodgers, Stephen T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: The aim of the present study is to examine gender identity disparities in different kinds of weight-related health behaviors, including physical activity, participation in physical education at school, and healthy and unhealthy eating habits, and to investigate the relationship between school safety and such behaviors in a sample of transgender and non-transgender students. Method: We analyzed a statewide sample of 31,609 students (Mage = 14.04, SD = 1.70; 1.1% transgender). We used multilevel regression models to examine the interactive effects of gender identity and perceptions of school safety on the 4 different outcome variables (physical activity, physical education, healthy and unhealthy eating habits). All models included student- and school-level characteristics as controls. Results: Findings indicated that transgender students, when compared to non-transgender students, reported (a) feeling less safe at school; (b) more physical activity, but less participation in physical education at school; and (c) both more healthy as well as unhealthy eating behaviors. Adjusted regression models showed a significant interaction between gender identity and perceived school safety on healthy eating behaviors; simple slopes indicated that transgender students have healthier eating behaviors when the school context is perceived as safe compared to those who perceived the school as less safe. Conclusions: School interventions are needed to improve school safety for transgender youth and to reduce gender identity-related disparities in healthy eating and physical activity. Research implications and limitations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Gender identity
  • Healthy eating behaviors
  • Physical activity
  • School safety
  • Transgender students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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