Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Professionals' Application of Intersectionality with Marginalized Youth: Considerations for Teen Dating Violence Prevention Programming and Beyond

Bradley Kyle Daly, The University of Western Ontario


Marginalized youth disproportionality experience adverse outcomes such as increased rates of mental health issues and teen dating violence. Addressing their compounding concerns requires an approach that considers their interlocking marginalized identities and the oppressive systems impacting them. Intersectionality incorporates both elements, yet the literature on how frontline practitioners understand and apply this complex theory within their practice remains sparse. This integrated-article dissertation explored how professionals working with marginalized youth within various settings, including teen dating violence prevention contexts, understood and applied intersectionality. The first paper (chapter two) used group concept mapping to explore how 12 professionals applied intersectionality. Results yielded six distinct clusters: 1) organizational elements, 2) self-reflection and awareness, 3) values, beliefs, and actions, 4) considerations for creating an anti-oppressive and safe environment, 5) practices for person-centred care, and 6) promotion of self-reflection and personal development among youth. These findings illustrated organizational and individual factors related to applying intersectionality in practice and professionals' perspectives on how these approaches impact youth outcomes.

The second research paper (chapter three) drew from thematic analysis to explore how ten professionals working with marginalized youth in diverse community settings and implementing a healthy relationships program understood intersectionality. Further, this study sought to understand professionals' internal reflective processes when considering intersectionality in their practice. The following three main themes were identified: 1) understanding intersectionality as a framework, 2) professionals' self-reflection: examination of positionality, privilege, and continued learning, and 3) professionals' journey toward applying an intersectional approach. These themes capture professionals' diverse experiences grappling with intersectionality and offer practical considerations related to critical practice.

Finally, the third research paper (chapter four) utilized the same interviews from chapter three to explore how professionals apply intersectionality broadly within their work and, more specifically, within TDV prevention programming contexts. The following main themes were identified: 1) professionals' application of intersectionality, 2) intersectionality in the context of teen dating violence prevention programming, and 3) benefits of an intersectional approach for youth. Together, the results from these studies highlight a variety of concrete strategies and considerations from professionals aiming to enact systemic change in the lives of marginalized youth through bridging theory and application.