Empowering LGBTQ+ Youth of Color: A Groundbreaking Teleconference Intervention

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Dr. Heather Littleton, Director of Research Operations at the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience, is serving as co-investigator on a recently funded $600,000 grant from the William T. Grant Foundation. This grant, led by Dr. Katie Edwards, Professor of Psychology and of the Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, seeks to fully develop and evaluate a teleconference version of a promising intervention for families of LGBTQ+ youth, the Family Acceptance Project. Dr. Caitlyn Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, and Dr. Jillian Scheer, Associate Professor of Psychology at Syracuse University, will serve as subject matter experts on the project.

Developed by Dr. Caitlyn Ryan, the Family Acceptance Project seeks to prevent health risks and promote well-being for LGBTQ+ children and youth in the context of their families, cultures and faith communities. Specifically, the Family Acceptance Project seeks to increase caregivers’ motivation to serve as advocates for their LGBTQ+ children. This is achieved by increasing alignment between caregiver values and their role as advocates for their child. Further, the program provides youth and caregivers with education about LGBTQ+ identities and identity development to increase both self- and family acceptance of youth’s identities. Finally, the program provides youth and caregivers with tools to respond to discrimination and mistreatment in their families, schools, and communities.

This three-year grant will develop a group teleconference-delivered version of the program and evaluate its efficacy at preventing a host of deleterious outcomes and enhancing personal and familial strengths among LGBTQ+ youth of color recruited from LGBTQ+ community organizations and via social media advertising. The weekly, nine-session program is delivered in a blended format where portions of sessions are for caregivers alone, portions are for youth alone, and portions of the program are delivered to caregivers and youth together. The extent to which the program leads to increased positive identity, decreased mental health symptoms, and decreased risk for interpersonal violence and substance use for youth will be evaluated.  Additionally, the impact of the program on caregiver-accepting behaviors will be examined.  If efficacious, this online version of the Family Acceptance Project will be an invaluable tool in increasing the accessibility of evidence-based programming for families of LGBTQ+ youth of color.


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