Gender equitable attitudes among adolescents: A validation study and associations with sexual health behaviors

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Gender inequitable attitudes are associated with violence perpetration and poor sexual health. There is limited diversity in U.S. samples used to validate gender attitudes measurements. This study assessed a 13-item gender equitable attitudes scale’s validity among a sample of predominantly Black adolescent boys (n = 866; mean age = 15.5, range = 13–19 years) and examined associations with sexual health behaviors. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses tested construct validity. Logistic mixed-effects models were used to explore associations between gender equitable attitudes, adolescent relationship abuse, pornography use, and condom use behaviors; linear mixed-effects models explored associations between gender equitable attitudes and condom negotiation self-efficacy. By pooling data from two other gender transformative programs, Sisterhood 2.0 (n = 246, 13–19-year-old females (mean age = 15.2), 73.6% Black/African American) and Coaching Boys into Men Middle School (n = 958, 11–14-year-old males–6th grade: 10.4%, 7th grade: 36.5%, 8th grade: 53.1–56.6% white), measurement invariance was assessed across Black (n = 400) and white (n = 298) race and male (n = 429) and female (n = 246) gender. A three-factor 11-item scale showed construct validity among a sample of Black adolescent boys, weak factorial invariance across Black and white race, and configural invariance across male and female gender. Gender equitable attitudes were associated with less adolescent relationship abuse, higher condom negotiation self-efficacy, and less pornography use. These findings demonstrate some variability in measurements of gender equitable attitudes by race and gender. Targeting harmful gender norms may help prevent adolescent relationship abuse and improve sexual health behaviors.