About the project

This project (commencing in 2016) sought to understand how young (aged 16-35) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or questioning (LGBTIQ+) people in  Australia use digital social media. We were interested in mainstream platforms like Facebook and Instagram, through to emerging platforms at the time like Snapchat (the social media landscape has changed a lot since we started!), and including hook-up/dating applications such as Grindr, Tinder, and Her.

The project resulted in a number of insights into the ongoing importance of digital and social media in the lives of young queer and gender-diverse people, especially as related to learning, connecting, and feeling a sense of belonging that isn’t always present in many physical spaces. Our study looked at experiences of mental health, harassment, and the role of social media for LGBTIQ+ people in regional areas. Some key papers from our study are:

Please contact brady.robards@monash.edu if you have any trouble accessing the above papers.

We are employed a mixed-methods approach in this project, including a national survey and follow-up in-depth interviews. You can access the questions from the survey here. If you would like to use elements of the survey, or reproduce it entirely, we would love to hear from you. Please email brady.robards@monash.edu.

This project was conducted with the approval of the University of Tasmania’s Social Science Human Research Ethics Committee, reference H15362.

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Why did we do this study?

Youth suicide and mental health are amongst Australia’s most pressing concerns, and young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer or questioning people continue to experience risk disproportionately (Leonard et al. 2012). At the same time, social media have become crucial resources for young LGBTIQ+ people and young people more broadly, especially for those who live in rural areas outside cities and away from support services and physical networks (Gray 2009). We set out to better understand the role of social media in the lives of young LGBTIQ+ people to address a gap in the research in Australia, but to also help inform public debate and policy.

About the researchers

The Scrolling Beyond Binaries project was a team effort, including:

bradyrobardsBrady Robards is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Monash University. His research explores how young people use and thus produce social media, with a focus on reflexive identity-work. Brady’s work appears in journals such as New Media & Society, Young, Continuum, and Sociology. His last book was titled Growing up on Facebook (co-authored with Sian Lincoln). For more, see bradyrobards.com. Twitter: @bradyjay

brendanBrendan Churchill is a researcher in sociology at the University of Melbourne. Brendan is a quantitative sociologist in the sub-field of life course research. Brendan’s research focuses on how individuals change over the life course and the impact of life course transitions (from education to the labour market; from the family household to having a family) on individual lives using longitudinal data. Brendan is interested in how life course trajectories differ across generations and the related issues of intergenerational inequity. Twitter: @BrenChurchill

ben (1)Benjamin Hanckel is a Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University. His research focuses on digital technologies for health, with a focus on their design, and the role they play in the lives of children and young people. His recent work has examined the role of technology in the lives of LGBTIQ+ youth, as well as how technologies are used in the delivery of health interventions and for health advocacy. Twitter: @benhanckel

1ijyr42w47q4kzxpeemfSon Vivienne
is a lecturer in Digital Media at Flinders University. Recent projects, undertaken as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow based at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Communication and Social Change (CfCSC), include scoping research in Free and Open Source Software and Digital Citizenship in India and Australia; and development of a hybrid online/face to face teaching space exploring ICTs and Community Media in Development contexts. Son undertook her doctorate based at ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCi) at Queensland University of Technology, where her research explored Digital Storytelling as a tool for Everyday Activism, focusing particularly on the problems of Voice, Queer Identity and Networked Publics. Twitter: @sonjaviv

thinking-mug-shotPaul Byron researches young people’s friendships, peer support, and digital cultures of care. As a postdoctoral researcher at UTS School of Communication, he researches digital peer support among LGBTQ+ young people in relation to mental health. He is author of the book Digital Media, Friendship & Cultures of Care (2021) and has published journal articles on digital media and young people relating to sexual health, mental health, dating hook-up apps, Tumblr, informal knowledge sharing, porn literacies, and more. Twitter: @paulibyron

We have also sought input, guidance, and inspiration from a diverse and highly skilled group of experts. Our international advisory group includes:

  • Assoc. Prof. Angela Dwyer (Police Studies, University of Tasmania)
  • Dr Kirsten McLean (Social Sciences, Monash University)
  • Dr Kim McLeod (Social Sciences, University of Tasmania)
  • Dr Bob Buttigieg (Griffith University)
  • Dr Natalie Hendry (Deakin University)
  • Dr Crystal Abidin (Deakin)
  • Andrew Badcock (Working it Out, Tasmania)
  • Ruby Grant (University of Tasmania)
  • Dr Stefanie Duguay (Concordia, Canada)
  • Dr Alexander Cho (University of California, US)
  • Dr Avery Dame-Griff (Winona State University, US)
  • Tianyang Zhou (Sussex, UK)
About our website art

The header image for the website, which is also used in our survey and information sheets, was created by Alyssa Smedley of Horrible Horris designs. The art was commissioned for use in the project.

Ethics and questions

If you have any queries or would like clarification about this study please contact the Chief Investigator, A/Prof Brady Robards (brady.robards@monash.edu).

This study has been approved by the Tasmanian Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have concerns or complaints about the conduct of this study, please contact the Executive Officer of the HREC (Tasmania) Network on (03) 6226 7479 or email human.ethics@utas.edu.au. The Executive Officer is the person nominated to receive complaints from research participants. Please quote ethics reference number H15362.