~ By Colette
One of the pleasures of working at The Prevention Researcher for the past two decades is that I’ve been able to watch as programs, research, and researchers develop and grow. As someone who is fascinated by research – the process as well as the results – it has been an interesting journey.
One vein of research that I have enjoyed watching grow has been that on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. In 2001 we published an issue on “lesbian and gay youth.” At that time, there was scant research on bisexual youth, and little talk about transgender youth and their needs. This issue focused on definitions, the coming out process, and the risk and vulnerabilities of lesbian and gay youth.
Just nine years later, in 2010, we again visited the topic and this time we were able to include research about bisexual and transgender youth. Plus, much to my delight, we were able to shift the focus away from the problems LGBT youth experience and instead explore how to create supportive environments that would prevent these problems from occurring in the first place. Admittedly, in 2010 this was a burgeoning research area with many people still concerned about the difficulties LGBT youth were experiencing and not yet making the shift to considering true prevention. Since then, we’ve seen increased awareness through the “It Gets Better” Campaign and recognition that, as adults, we need to “Make it Better” for LGBT youth.
For both of our issues – in 2001 and 2010 – I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Caitlyn Ryan. When we initially began working together, Caitlin had recently published the book, “Lesbian & Gay Youth: Care & Counseling,” which was a leading resource at the time. Right after our issue was published, Caitlin went on to develop the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), the goal of which was to “promote family support, decrease risk and improve well-being for LGBT youth.” With the creation of the FAP, Caitlin was able to research how family support impacts the health risk factors of LGBT youth, and then begin to create resources for families and those professionals who work with them.
I have learned that the FAP’s family education materials have been designated as a “Best Practice” resource for suicide prevention, by the national Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention (a project of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). This is very important as LGBT youth are at increased risk for suicide.
Congratulations to Caitlin and her team at the Family Acceptance Project!!
To access the Supportive Families, Health Children booklets – available in English, Spanish, and Chinese – or to view the incredible “Always My Son” video, visit the FAP web site at http://familyproject.sfsu.edu. To learn more about the Best Practices Registry visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at http://www.sprc.org/.