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Family Acceptance Project launches online resource to help LGBTQ youth

First of Its kind online resource for LGBTQ+ youth & families to help decrease isolation, family rejection & mental health risks

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Art by Sam Kirk via Family Acceptance Project

SAN FRANCISCO -As the Covid-19 pandemic stretches into another year, the toll on children, youth and families has escalated.

Last month, leading national child and adolescent medical groups designated a national emergency for children’s and adolescent’s mental health in response to soaring rates of mental health challenges that disproportionately impact communities of color and call for trauma-informed services to reduce risk and support family resilience.

The impact on LGBTQ young people has been significant. Research over a period of years has documented high levels of risk for suicide, substance abuse, depression and homelessness for LGBTQ youth, related to social stigma.

Before the pandemic, LGBTQ youth were 4-6 times more likely to attempt suicide compared with non-LGBTQ peers. During the pandemic, stress, attempted suicide and emergency department visits have ballooned for children and youth, overall.

Of particular concern, lack of services for families with LGBTQ children has been an ongoing problem and is a major gap in prevention and care for diverse LGBTQ children, youth and families, nationwide. This has become more urgent given the early ages when children and adolescents self-identify as LGBTQ today – increasingly in childhood and pre-teen years – as a result of widespread access to information and positive images of LGBTQ lives, inconceivable for earlier generations of LGBTQ people who came out as adults and often led closeted lives.

“The Family Acceptance Project’s work provides critical information to help parents and caregivers learn to support their LGBTQ children and to help youth and families find access to urgently needed resources,” Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said. 

“Their research has shown that when adults learn and demonstrate specific supportive behaviors in the home and community, LGBTQ youth not only feel more connected, but their health outcomes, including suicide risk, can be improved. A critical component of FAP’s work is providing evidence-based guidance to decrease family rejection and increase acceptance in ways that are culturally and linguistically relevant,” she added.

Dr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project, noted: “Although awareness has increased significantly of the risks that LGBTQ youth experience, there is still widespread lack of understanding of the essential role of family support in protecting against mental health risks and increasing well-being for LGBTQ youth. Our social media and online resources will help educate parents and caregivers on the compelling impact of family rejecting and accepting behaviors on their child’s risk for suicide, drug use and other serious health risks. Simple changes in how families respond to their LGBTQ children can make a powerful difference in preventing risk and building healthy futures. As families gather for the holidays this year, we are releasing this new resource to help decrease isolation and increase support for both LGBTQ youth and their families.”

Historically, services for LGBTQ youth have been provided to LGBTQ youth alone, like adults, or through peer support since parents and families were seen as rejecting and incapable of learning to support their LGBTQ children.

The perception that parents and caregivers are unable to learn to support their LGBTQ children – particularly in families that are culturally and religiously conservative   – has impeded the development of family-based services and care to help diverse families learn to support their LGBTQ children. 

Twenty years ago when the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) initiated the first research on LGBTQ youth and families, when conflict erupted, LGBTQ youth were routinely removed from their homes and placed in custodial care since providers did not believe that it was possible to increase family support. Moreover, providers saw their role as helping to protect LGBTQ young people from their families, not to promote family connectedness.

This perception began to change as the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) started to publish the first research on LGBTQ youth and families and showed that families play a critical role in contributing to health risks, including suicidal behaviors, and helping to protect against risk and promote well-being.

FAP’s research identified more than 100 specific family rejecting and accepting behaviors that increase risk for suicide, depression, drug use, HIV and other health risks and promote well-being. These behaviors provide a foundation for FAPs behavior-based family support model that helps diverse families learn to support their LGBTQ children in the context of their families, cultures and faith traditions – even when they believe that being gay or transgender is wrong.

Recognizing the growing crisis in adolescent mental health for youth of color and LGBTQ youth, the Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health, a collaborative fund powered by Panorama, was launched in 2020 to provide resources for frontline services and to support organizations that work to transform mental health systems of care.

Supported by this fund, the Family Acceptance Project with collaborative partners and cultural leaders are launching for the first time a new national online resource that provides access to accurate information and affirmative services to increase family and community support for LGBTQ children and youth to help decrease mental health risks and to promote well-being.

This new website – which is the first targeted resource for LGBTQ youth and families – includes a national searchable map of community support services that affirm LGBTQ young people and help to increase family support, along with multilingual and multicultural evidence-based resources to increase family support for LGBTQ children and youth.

Resources accessible through the new online site include:  support services for LGBTQ youth; peer support for parents, caregivers and families; LGBTQ community centers; LGBTQ health clinics; gender clinics; school supports; affirming faith-based organizations and resources; and a national list of culture-based resources for ethnically and racially diverse LGBTQ communities.

To carry out this work, FAP is collaborating with the Institute for Innovation & Implementation, a research-based organization at the University of Maryland School of Social Work that focuses on transforming systems to address the needs of children, youth and families, with a specific focus on LGBTQ and gender diverse children and youth.

Since 2005, the Institute has been building the capacity of the nation’s health and mental health systems to care for vulnerable children and youth, most recently with national education and training centers to help decrease risk and increase well-being for LGBTQ children and adolescents.

Cultural leaders and community members from diverse backgrounds have helped FAP to develop culturally grounded educational resources for families, youth, providers and religious leaders that show how specific family rejecting and accepting behaviors affect LGBTQ children’s and adolescent’s risk and well-being in 11 languages with a specific version for American Indian families and communities.

This new web resource will provide a series of webinars and family guidance materials that range from integrating FAP’s family support model into Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to guidance from Asian parents on supporting their transgender children. The website will be updated over time as new resources are added.

This initiative includes an on-going social media component, disseminating graphics that illustrate how family accepting and rejecting behaviors impact health and well-being for LGBTQ children and youth, featuring the work of multidisciplinary artist, Sam Kirk.

Founder of Provoke Culture, Kirk is a young queer artist whose murals and visual narratives explore culture, diversity and identity and vitalize communities across the U.S. Family accepting and rejecting behaviors studied in FAP’s research, have been transformed by Kirk’s art into social media memes that are being deployed across platforms to connect LGBTQ youth, parents, caregivers and others with critical family support messages and resources through the website to help decrease isolation, increase connectedness and provide access to affirming services.  

The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative, affiliated with San Francisco State University, that is designed to:

1) prevent risk, including suicide, substance abuse and homelessness, and promote well-being for LGBTQ children and adolescents in the context of their families, cultures and faith communities; and 2) implement and disseminate the first research-based, family model of wellness, prevention, and care to build healthy futures for LGBTQ children and youth. 

For more information about the Family Acceptance Project visit:  https://familyproject.sfsu.edu/

For information about the Institute for Innovation & Implementation visit:  https://theinstitute.umaryland.edu/

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LGBTQ Non-Profit Organizations

Target & vendor remove T-shirt from webstore after ACT-UP NY objects

Silence = Death and its accompanying reversed pink triangle symbol was created by artisans with The Silence=Death Project

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

MINNEAPOLIS – Retail giant Target and its vendor partner, New York City-based retailer The Phluid Project, removed a T-shirt which used the iconic slogan Silence = Death and its accompanying reversed pink triangle symbol from availability on the Target web store Friday.

In a story first reported by longtime Rolling Stone editor Daniel Kreps, a series of tweets this week called out both Target and The Phluid Project for not clarifying if proceeds of sales of the item would be channeled to ACT-UP NY,  the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP), a non-profit.

ACT-UP NY also sells t-shirts and other apparel with the iconic imagery to generate funds for its efforts to raise awareness and contribute to HIV/AIDS campaigns including funding for Housing Works, New York’s largest AIDS service organization and Health GAP, which fights to expand treatment for people with AIDS throughout the world, which are direct outgrowths of ACT-UP.

Silence = Death and its accompanying reversed pink triangle graphic symbol was created by artisans and graphic designers from The Silence=Death Project. The six-person collective in New York City was comprised of Avram Finkelstein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Soccarás.

The Silence=Death poster was also used by ACT-UP as a central image in their activist campaign against the AIDS epidemic. Because of ACT-UP’s advocacy, the slogan and pink triangle remains synonymous with AIDS activism.

A spokesperson for Target, Brian Harper-Tibaldo told the Blade that “This shirt was designed by our vendor partner, The Phluid Project, who is working directly with ACT-UP to address their concerns. The item is only available on Target.com and we’ve temporarily pulled it from our assortment until the concern is resolved.”

The Phluid Project’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Garett Smith, told the Blade in a phone call Friday afternoon that once he had learned about the social media exchange he communicated with Target to suspend sales of the T-Shirt. Smith said that he was in communication with ACT-UP NY and that steps were being undertaken to mitigate the issue.

Smith emphasized that his company is queer owned and operated, he himself is a gay man who is also HIV positive and his goal is for fulfillment and empowerment for LGBTQ+ people. He reiterated his mission statement posted to the firm’s website which reads; “We strive to amplify the rising voice of today’s youth, which rejects binary gender norms, and favors an inclusive world that allows individuals to wear what makes them feel good—that is, what best reflects who they really are inside.”

A Federal records check by the Blade showed that there was no registered Copyright or Trademark for the slogan and its image, and that technically it is in the public domain, a fact that ACT-UP NY noted in their tweet Friday. At issue for the collective was what it defined as ‘corporatization’ of the iconic imagery.

The Phluid Project’s Smith said that he believes in monies and profits being part of a reinvestment into the LGBTQ+ community especially given the political attacks on the community, mainly Trans and queer non-binary people currently.

ACT-UP NY in a June 2018 tweet after a similar controversy with global footwear giant Nike after a compromise earlier with clothing company Levi Strauss & Co noted that their position is that companies should not profit off queer people’s lives without sharing those profits.

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LGBTQ Non-Profit Organizations

Lambda Legal & Black & Pink: Legal system anti-LGBTQ+ bias survey

“Everyone who interacts with the criminal system, whether a victim or are suspected of a crime has legal rights & must be treated fairly”

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Courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department NC

NEW YORK – Lambda Legal, in partnership with Black & Pink National, launched the new Protected & Served? community survey Thursday, a study that will explore discrimination and bias against LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV in the criminal legal system.

The findings of the Protected & Served? survey, will inform and support new research, advocacy, litigation, and policy efforts to address the discrimination and abuse experienced by LGBTQ+ people and living with HIV in the criminal legal system, and hold them accountable.

“Everyone who interacts with the criminal legal system, whether they are a victim of a crime or are suspected, accused, or convicted of committing a crime, has legal rights and must be treated fairly,” said Senior Attorney and Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct Strategist for Lambda Legal, Richard Saenz. “However, we know that is not the case for many people, especially LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV. If people in our communities have had an experience with the criminal legal system or another government entity such as child protective services, we need to hear from them so that together we can make change.”

“The idea that we are supposed to compartmentalize the harm we experience from systems of police while engaging with these systems for our care and safety is a recipe for disaster,” said Executive Director for Black and Pink National, Dominique Morgan. “And if these systems truly desire to be our core system of care and justice, they should welcome feedback that allows them to see their true impact. The Protected and Served? report is a much needed mirror to police, jails, prisons, and school security.”

The first Protected & Served? report, which explored government misconduct by police, prisons, the courts and school security against LGBTQ+ and people living with HIV, has been an important resource for litigators, advocacy groups, scholars, journalists, and government entities, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

This year’s updated report will build on the success of the first report by expanding the survey to include questions about the experiences of more marginalized populations within our communities, including incarcerated people, young people, sex workers, and immigrants, and will ask questions about interactions with the U.S. immigration system, government systems focused on youth such as child protective services, and broader law enforcement.

The survey will also ask how these experiences have influenced trust, or distrust, in the criminal legal system.

Strength in Numbers Consulting Group, an LGBTQ+ led research, evaluation, and philanthropic strategy firm, will facilitate the survey and contribute to the report.

The survey, which is anonymous and confidential, will open today, May 5, 2022, and will be open until July 8, 2022. Online participants will have an opportunity to enter a drawing to win 1 of 10 gift cards in the amount of $100. The report will be published in late 2022.

For more information, including the survey, please visit www.ProtectedAndServed.org

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LGBTQ Non-Profit Organizations

Human Rights Campaign uses the word ‘gay’ & Tik Tok suspends them

A comment that included the word ‘gay’ got the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ rights advocacy non-profit suspended for a couple of days

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HRC/Twitter

CULVER CITY – A Tik-Tok reel-post of the protests against Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ on which the Human Rights Campaign left a comment that included the word ‘gay’ got the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ rights advocacy non-profit suspended for a couple of days.

In a tweet Monday, HRC wrote, “Seriously @tiktok_us? You banned us for using the word gay in a comment. You need to do better!”

 Ty Cobb, senior director of strategic initiatives at HRC, told The Advocate Tuesday in a statement:

“What message does it send to young people when we comment or post LGBTQ+ content and it’s deemed inappropriate and a violation of community guidelines? We’re fighting a battle for our lives. Elected officials are trying to censor our speech and restrict our access to healthcare and equal opportunity. Our need to communicate to our community and allies is more important than ever right now. Having our TikTok account suspended for two days means our ability to post educational, affirming content was restricted, which is nothing short of devastating.”

Tik-Tok has a checkered and problematic history in its engagement with the LGBTQ+ community. TikTok’s “For You” page recommendation algorithm circulated videos promoting hate and violence targeting the LGBTQ community during Pride Month, while the company celebrated the month with its #ForYourPride campaign. 

There are no tailored TikTok policies specifically addressing safety for the LGBTQ community. Instead, the platform’s community guidelines relevant to protecting the LGBTQ community are folded into TikTok’s “organized hate” and “hateful behavior” policies barring users from directing hate toward an individual or groups based on their “sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity,” among other characteristics.

LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD analyzed LGBTQ safety on TikTok in its Social Media Safety Index released in May. In its recommendations, it noted that “TikTok must prioritize improved practices and systems to reduce anti-LGBTQ hate and extremist content.”

Anti-LGBTQ content not only slides under TikTok’s radar but seems to be actively promoted by the company’s algorithm.

Media Matters for America, a Washington D.C.-based media watchdog group noted: “Let’s be clear: No one knows exactly how TikTok’s “For You” page algorithm is formulated. We have a rough idea, as TikTok has explained that recommendations are based on a number of factors like user interactions, video information, and device settings.”

LGBTQ+ individual users on the Tik-Tok platform also find themselves targeted by organized efforts by right-wing homophobes who have discovered how to “game” the platforms to force content guideline strikes or violations algorithms which sometimes result in a complete ban and deplatforming of those users affected.

The Culver City based social media company spokesperson responding in an email to The Advocate explained the company took action immediately after it knew of the issue with HRC.

“We restored the comment as soon as we were made aware of this error and will continue to provide ongoing training to help our moderators make consistent and accurate decisions,” the spokesperson for the company said. “We are proud that LGBTQ+ community members choose to create and share on TikTok, and our policies seek to protect and empower these voices on our platform.” 

Tik-Tok has not responded to the Blade’s request for explanation or comment.

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