Connect with us

Research/Study

New poll illustrates impacts of social & political issues on LGBTQ+ youth

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 63% of LGBTQ youth, including 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel scared about the future

Published

on

Los Angeles Blade graphic via The Trevor Project

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ+) youth, released a new poll Monday that underscores the impacts of politics and current events on the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ young people.

85% of transgender and nonbinary youth say that recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health. 

For LGBTQ+ youth, racism is the “most important” issue impacting the world; more than 65% also say issues like anti- LGBTQ+ hate crimes, police brutality, gun violence, climate change, and efforts to restrict abortion access often give them stress and anxiety. 

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 63% of LGBTQ+ youth, including 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel scared about the future.

The poll was conducted by Morning Consult between September 14-November 5, 2021 among a national sample of 820 LGBTQ+ youth ages 13–24, including 318 transgender and nonbinary youth and 340 LGBTQ+ youth of color, 56% of whom are Black. The full polling data can be found here.

“These results underscore how recent politics and ongoing crises facing the globe can have a real, negative impact on LGBTQ+ young people, a group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for depression, anxiety, and attempting suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society,” said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project. “It’s clear that lawmakers should be taking an intersectional approach to public policy, not working overtime to target the most marginalized young people, particularly those who are transgender or nonbinary, for partisan political points. We all must play a role in promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance and creating a more supportive world for all young people.”

85% of transgender and nonbinary youth—and two-thirds of all LGBTQ+ youth (66%)—say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. A record number of anti-transgender bills were introduced and passed across the country in 2021, and transgender and nonbinary youth are experiencing a range of negative emotions as a result:

  • New policies that will ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and transgender boys from playing on boys’ sports teams make 74% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 57% feel sad, 43% feel stressed, and nearly 1 in 3 feel scared.
  • Proposed legislation that would ban doctors from prescribing gender-affirming medical care like puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy to transgender and nonbinary youth make 73% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 57% feel sad, 47% feel stressed, 40% feel scared, and more than 1 in 3 feel hopeless, helpless, and/or nervous.
  • Proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ+ at school make 56% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 47% feel nervous and/or scared, 45% feel stressed, and more than 1 in 3 feel sad.

When asked in an open response question—“what social issue impacting our country/world is the most important to you?”—most LGBTQ+ youth across race/ethnicity and gender identity stated racism, followed by LGBTQ+ rights/equality, climate change, and homophobia. Then when provided a list of issues to measure sources of stress and anxiety, a majority of LGBTQ+ youth said that anti- LGBTQ+ hate crimes (58%) and homophobia (56%) give them stress and anxiety “very often,” followed by not having enough money (50%) and racism (49%). Overall, more than 65% of LGBTQ+ youth also stated that police brutality, transphobia, gun violence, climate change, and efforts to restrict abortion access often give them stress and anxiety. 

Additional key findings include:

  • Amid the COVID-19 pandemic,  LGBTQ+ youth reported high rates of feeling scared about the future (63%), having anxiety about in-person learning (46%), and feeling stressed (50%) and nervous (40%) about the 2021-2022 school year. Transgender and nonbinary youth disproportionately reported (53%) having difficulty getting mental health care compared to cisgender LGBQ youth (28%) and the overall sample (39%). More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth said they struggle to afford the things they need.
  • Unprompted, most LGBTQ+ youth said that racism is the most important issue impacting the world. However, issue prioritization differed in intensity by race and gender identity. Black LGBTQ+ youth were significantly more likely to report racism as the most important issue to them while white LGBTQ+ youth were almost equally as likely to report racism as LGBTQ+ rights as the most important issue to them. Moreover, transgender and nonbinary youth were nearly four times more likely to cite transphobia as the most important issue to them.
  • When provided with the list of issues, four in five transgender and nonbinary youth reported that anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, homophobia, transphobia, police brutality, and racism often give them stress or anxiety—a rate significantly higher than that of their cisgender peers. Black LGBTQ+ youth were disproportionately more likely to report that racism (16%), police brutality (15%), and gun violence (9%) cause them stress/anxiety “very often.” Conversely, white LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to report that transphobia (13%), anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes (11%), and efforts to restrict abortion access (10%) cause them stress/anxiety “very often.”


If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Research/Study

Tech companies failing to stop dangerous conversion therapy disinfo

According to the report, “rainbow-washing” particularly aims at the trans community for conversion to cisgender identities

Published

on

Max Huskins/Los Angeles Blade graphic

MONTGOMERY, Al. – Anti-LGBTQ groups “easily” spread dangerous disinformation online about the so-called conversion therapy as tech companies fail to de-platform such content, especially in non-English languages, according to two reports from the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE).

The reports detail that even though conversion therapy is a widely condemned practice, content related it is “distressingly easy” to find through simple searches on various platforms. 

Though searches in English yielded problematic results, GPAHE found that non-English languages, especially Swahili in Kenya, led to much more anti-LGBTQ disinformation. 

“Tech companies say they have taken steps to ban harmful content related to conversion therapy, but they have to do more, especially in non-English languages,” said Wendy Via, president and co-founder of GPAHE and co-author of the report.

The group’s research took place in English and Spanish in the U.S., English in Ireland and Australia, German in Germany, Spanish in Colombia, and English and Swahili in Kenya.

Conversion therapy has been condemned by dozens of medical and psychological organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA), which also supports a nationwide ban on conversion therapy. 

According to the Williams Institute, LGB people who have undergone conversion therapy are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide. 

Conversion therapy is banned for minors and sometimes adults in seven countries: Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Germany, Malta, France and Taiwan. Both France and Canada outlawed the debunked practice just last month. 

The U.S. has no nationwide ban, but conversion therapy is outlawed in 20 states and more than 100 municipalities in the nation. Partial bans also exist in Mexico, Australia, and Spain.

“Until online searches lead people to only authoritative information about the dangers of conversion therapy, tech companies are complicit in spreading anti-LGBTQ+ hate and disinformation that causes mental and physical harm for individuals, and furthers societal harm,” said Via. 

Generally, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and, to some extent, YouTube have taken steps to curtail conversion therapy information, according to GPAHE’s first report “Conversion Therapy Online: The Ecosystem.” When the group searched the term “conversion therapy” on these platforms, they mostly found trustworthy information, except in Swahili. 

However, in comparing social media platforms, the group found that YouTube’s search mechanism returns disinformation and propaganda more frequently than Facebook or Twitter. GPAHE also said the platform is “rife” with pro-conversion therapy material. 

On YouTube, we point viewers to authoritative sources like the Trevor Project for conversion therapy related searches and remove hateful and harassing content against the LGBTQ+ community that violates our policies,” Elena Hernandez, a YouTube spokesperson told the Blade in an email.

YouTube also provided a listing on background of the platform’s policies:

  • Per our hate speech policy, we remove content promoting violence or hatred against protected individuals or groups, including the LGBTQ+ community. For example, content promoting conversion therapy violates this policy and will be removed
    • In Q3 of 2021, we removed over 44,000 channels, over 114,000 videos, and over 50 million comments for violation of our policy on hate speech.
  • Per our harassment policy, we also remove content that features prolonged name calling or malicious insults based on their intrinsic attributes, including sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • In Q3 of 2021, we removed over 70,000 channels, over 283,000 videos, and over 157 million channels for harassment & cyberbullying. 
  • Additionally, our hate and harassment policies include penalties for creators who repeatedly brush up against the line, including removal from the YouTube Partner Program.
  • Our Community Guidelines apply globally  in every country we operate. More than 20,000 people around the world, including many with non-English language expertise, work to detect, review and remove content that violates our policies.
    • We publish video removals by country in our quarterly Transparency Report – based on the IP address of the channel when a video was uploaded. This isn’t an exact indication of language, but can be used as a loose proxy to demonstrate that we vigorously enforce our policies around the globe, including on non-English content.
    • Note that within the top 10 countries for videos removed, the vast majority are non-English speaking, for example Vietnam, India, and Brazil.
  • Our systems are trained to raise authoritative sources, like news organizations and experts, in search results, recommendations, and information panels for certain sensitive topics. We’re always working to expand and improve these. 
    • For example, searches about “conversion therapy” and “reparative therapy” surface an information panel linking to The Trevor Project.

The company has come under fire in the past for policies surrounding conversion therapy. In 2019, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) revoked its enforcement of Google over an app tied to conversion therapy. At the time, other major companies – like Apple and Amazon – removed the app. 

Google eventually removed the app. “After consulting with outside advocacy groups, reviewing our policies, and making sure we had a thorough understanding of the app and its relation to conversion therapy, we’ve decided to remove it from the Play Store, consistent with other app stores,” the company said in a statement to Axios

Though initial search mechanisms generally didn’t lead researchers to conversion therapy providers, Facebook and Twitter’s algorithms did lead users down a dangerous conversion therapy “rabbit hole” once they found a provider, the report found.

The Blade could not reach Meta (Facebook) and Twitter for comment. 

Last year, a Reuters report detailed how even though Facebook banned conversion therapy, the debunked practice continued to thrive in Arabic. 

“Facebook led me to conversion therapy, and I’m not alone,” said Omar, an Egyptian man who turned to Facebook when he began feeling sexually attracted to other men. He requested Reuters use only his first name because he has not yet come out to his family. 

Though GPAHE’s report did not study Arabic languages, it did find that languages other than English yielded more harmful search results. 

In all languages and countries, GPAHE found that search results from Microsoft’s Bing and Amazon’s Silk and Alexa were “significantly less authoritative.”

“These companies are rarely, if ever, challenged on their search algorithms despite serving hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” the release said. 

GPAHE suggested that Bing and Silk create search algorithms that surface authoritative information. In addition, Amazon should remove conversion therapy providers from the Smile program, the group said.

Both Microsoft and Amazon did not immediately return requests for comment. 

Amazon has had a checkered past with anti-LGBTQ content, especially on its web store. However, the company did stop selling books prompting conversion therapy in 2019.

“It’s time for the major internet and social media companies to wake up to their role in promoting harmful practices and disinformation,” the report read. “Conversion therapy is dangerous. If someone is searching for this material on any internet platform, they should only find authoritative results that document the therapy’s harms.” 

The group also found a “highly problematic” difference between results in English and Swahili in Kenya. Search results in English led to a mix of trustworthy and false information, while results in Swahil lead to material that disparages and mocks LGBTQ+ people and calls conversion therapy repuatable. 

“Even the Wikipedia page in Swahili in Kenya is filled with hateful disinformation,” a GPAHE press release read. 

German search results yielded mostly accurate information about conversion therapy. The group said this was likely due to Germany’s conversion therapy ban and strict hate speech laws. 

“Unlike what GPAHE found in most other countries and languages, Google searches in German for various conversion therapy terms came up almost entirely with authoritative results,” the report read.

However, the group did find one exception in searching “reintegrative therapie.” The search term populated reintegrativethereapy.com, a conversion therapy provider, in all of the first four results. But mostly trustworthy information follows. 

Using terms such as “reintegrative therapy” or “unwanted same-sex attraction” is a common way for conversion therapy providers and proponests to evade safeguards and prompt their content. According to the GPAHE report, such search terms led almost exclusively to unauthoritative and harmful disinformation.

GPAHE suggested that tech companies incorporate the terms “same-sex attraction” and “reintegrative therapy” into the algorithms to increase reliable and safe results.

Another method conversion therapy supporters use is hiding behind a so-called religious imperative or claiming that they are protecting kids, the report said. 

“As conversion therapy providers constantly rebrand their malicious efforts and introduce new terms, tech companies need to keep up to protect their users,” said Via.

GPAHE has sent its report to tech companies and will follow up with each over the coming months. 

GPAHE added that it “hopes that the report will help tech platforms flag or ban harmful material and serve as an additional authoritative resource for those who search for these organizations or conversion therapy information in general.”

Many of the world’s most surfaced conversion therapy providers were detailed in the group’s second report, “Conversion Therapy Online: The Players.” GPAHE specifically laid out 25 organizations and their “sophisticated and extensive” online presence.

The report found that these providers are interconnected and are essentially composed of three major networks: the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity, Core Issues Trust and Exodus Global Alliance. 

These groups have moved into the space, rebranding in a process known as “rainbow-washing,” where they claim to be “friends of the LGBTQ+ community” and feature “younger, hipper, more diverse faces,” according to GPAHE. The groups say they are “victimized by modern society,” co-opting ​​the “language of the LGBTQ+ rights movement to assert liberation for what they call the X-LGBT community.”

According to the report, “rainbow-washing” particularly aims at the trans community for conversion to cisgender identities.

“In recent years, proposed bans on conversion therapy have motivated providers to organize and up their legislative and litigation games,” the report read. “Their activities are bolstered and promoted by powerful social conservative organizations and relatively new X-LGBT groups, such as the Changed Movement, in various countries.”

Of the 25 groups named by GPAHE, 13 were based in the U.S., the most of any country. The states they were located in included Utah, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky, California, Missouri, Connecticut, Tennessee and Michigan. 

Other top conversion therapy organizations were located in Northern Ireland, Brasil, Mexico, Germany, England, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway. Others did not have a specific location listed. 

In addition to websites, many of the groups were also on Facebook. Some of the anti-LGBTQ organizations were also on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

“Getting rid of this harmful material online is an important step toward creating a society where LGBTQ+ people are accepted and loved and nobody feels like they want or need to change who they are,” said Heidi Beirich, report co-author and co-founder of GPAHE. “No more hate. That’s the overall goal.”

Continue Reading

Research/Study

UCLA-led advances toward possible cure for HIV

“The study opens a new paradigm for a possible HIV cure in the future”

Published

on

Royce Hall University of California, Los Angeles (Photo via UCLA)

LOS ANGELES – A UCLA-led team of researchers made advancements in a method designed to kill HIV-infected cells, moving scientists a step closer to possibly eliminating the virus altogether, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications

“These findings show proof-of-concept for a therapeutic strategy to potentially eliminate HIV from the body, a task that had been nearly insurmountable for many years,” said Dr. Jocelyn Kim, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “The study opens a new paradigm for a possible HIV cure in the future.”

HIV, which was once considered a death sentence, has become manageable in recent years with antiretroviral medication designed to keep the virus at bay. 

However, the virus still has the chance to elude the treatment by lying dormant in cells, according to UCLA. When a person stops taking the medication, the virus emerges from those reservoirs and replicates in the body.

The study builds on a “kick and kill” method originally developed in 2017. The approach uses cells naturally produced by the immune system to kill infected cells inside the body, according to Kim, assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

In the 2017 study, researchers gave mice whose immune systems had been altered to mimic those of humans antiretroviral drugs and infected them with HIV. They then administered a synthetic compound developed at Stanford University to activate the mice’s dormant HIV. The study found that up to 25% of the previously dormant cells died within 24 hours.

“But a more effective way to kill those cells was needed,” read the release. 

HIV in bloodstream courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This time around, the researchers used the compound to “flush” HIV-infected cells out of hiding. Then, the mice were injected with healthy natural killer cells to kill the infected cells.

The new combination improved the numbers, completely clearing the HIV in 40% of the mice, according to the study. 

As an additional step, the researchers also analyzed the mice’s spleens, a place where HIV-infected cells could be hiding. Yet, they did not detect the virus there, suggesting that the HIV-infected cells were eliminated. 

The team’s goal is to refine the approach to eliminate HIV in 100% of the mice. 

“We will also be moving this research toward preclinical studies in nonhuman primates with the ultimate goal of testing the same approach in humans,” Kim said. 

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 38 million people are currently living with HIV. Since the virus began circulating, over 36 million people have died from complications due to the disease. 

Continue Reading

Research/Study

LGBTQ+ & BIPOC youth led study on COVID-19 vax has surprising results

Economic disadvantage made a much more significant impact on LGBTQ vaccination rates as compared to non-LGBTQ vaccination rates

Published

on

Courtesy of Out Boulder County

BOULDER, Co. – Out Boulder County in partnership with El Centro AMISTAD and Unwoven Ventures with the leadership of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth created what may be the nation’s first LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth-led survey on COVID-19 vaccination uptake, acceptance, hesitancy, and resistance. A key finding of the survey is that economic disadvantage and race make a meaningful impact on vaccination rates and levels of acceptance.

“LGBTQ+ and BIPOC young people are too often ignored by the medical establishment and society. It was important to Out Boulder County and our partners to have youth lead the survey and to elevate voices in these too often ignored communities,” said Mardi Moore, Executive Director of Out Boulder County which provides advocacy, services, programs and support to LGBTQ+ communities in Boulder County and beyond. “Understanding their views and attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination is crucial to managing and ending this pandemic.”

There were 420 respondents who met the criteria for inclusion in the survey. It consisted of 37 questions, was offered in both English and Spanish, and targeted youth ages 12 to 17 and young adults between the ages of 18 to 24. The survey was advertised by the staff and interns at Out Boulder County and El Centro AMISTAD through social media, direct marketing at events, outreach to partnering organizations, radio, school GSA networks, as well as yard signs in several locations. 

There continues to be little research that examines the vaccination rates and attitudes toward vaccination of youth and young adults belonging to historically marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ+, Hispanic/Latinx, Neurodivergent and individuals with Disabilities. 

“Studying vaccination rates as well as views, attitudes, and barriers to vaccination at these intersections of identities revealed valuable data that should inform efforts to promote vaccination,” said Michal Duffy, Director of Education and Research at Out Boulder County. “The data clearly reveal that a person’s socio-economic status and identity impacts their views toward vaccination and their successful uptake of the vaccine.” 

When it comes to understanding COVID-19 vaccine reluctance, this information is crucial to an effective community vaccination program, which requires participation by people of every age group and demographic. 

Key Survey Findings

Economic Status Impact on Vaccination Rates

A key finding of this study is that economically disadvantaged respondents have lower rates of vaccination overall. Economic disadvantage made a much more significant impact on LGBTQ vaccination rates as compared to non-LGBTQ vaccination rates. The following bulleted data points illustrate this key finding.

●     40% of economically disadvantaged LGBTQ young adults ages 18-24 are vaccinated, where as the vaccination rates jump to 86% for those who are economically resourced. 70% of economically disadvantaged LGBTQ youth ages 12-17 are vaccinated compared to 81% who are economically resourced. 

●      All non-LGBTQ respondents ages 18-24, whether economically disadvantaged or resourced, have a 78% vaccination rate. For youth ages 12-17, economically disadvantaged non-LGBTQ respondents are vaccinated at a slightly higher rate of 61% than those who are economically resourced at a rate of 58%. 

The results also showed a significant relationship between race, economic advantage, and vaccination rates. Economically disadvantaged Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) respondents have a significantly higher vaccination rate than economically disadvantaged White respondents. 

●     For financially disadvantaged respondents ages 12-17, BIPOC youth reported a 68% vaccination rate compared to 57% for White respondents. For ages 18-24, the difference is even greater at 80% of BIPOC respondents compared to 27% of White respondents. 

Vaccine Acceptance, Hesitancy, and Resistance

While economically disadvantaged respondents revealed lower vaccination rates overall, they reported higher rates of vaccine acceptance (50% vs 30%) and hesitancy (23% vs 11%) and lower vaccine resistance (27% vs 59%), than those who are financially resourced. 

This demonstrates an opportunity to reach economically disadvantaged, unvaccinated youth through innovative community-based strategies.

Another important finding is that BIPOC respondents have a significantly higher rate of vaccine acceptance and lower vaccine resistance than White respondents; this trend also holds true for Hispanic/Latinx respondents in comparison to non-Hispanic/Latinx respondents. White, non-LGBTQ respondents reported the lowest vaccination rate compared to both LGBTQ and Non-LGBTQ BIPOC, as well as White LGBTQ respondents. 

For unvaccinated participants who reported that they are willing to get the vaccine if it is easily accessible (i.e., vaccine accepting), the highest reported barriers were parent-related, followed by transportation and not knowing where to get the vaccine or the cost. “My parents don’t want me to get the vaccine” was reported as the top reason for the following respondent groups: White, non-Hispanic, English as the primary household language, assigned male at birth, transgender, nonbinary, and LGBTQ respondents. 

Additional cited concerns that present opportunities for educational outreach to youth and young adults include: impacts on fertility, interactions with other conditions, associated costs, and accessibility and availability of vaccines. 

Regardless of vaccination status, all respondents have concerns. Overall, mental health (65%) and physical health (58%) are the greatest concerns.

Opportunities

The survey findings demonstrated three important opportunities to reach unvaccinated youth and young adults.

●     Community-based outreach and education strategies aimed at economically disadvantaged, unvaccinated youth have the potential to make substantial impacts on vaccinate acceptance and uptake numbers.

●     Accessible and accurate vaccine education for parents about the importance and benefit of vaccination for youth and young adults that also addresses common misconceptions could remove the primary barriers facing vaccine-accepting youth and young adults.

●     All education efforts should include clear and accurate information addressing commonly cited concerns in the survey data including: impacts on fertility, interactions with other conditions, associated costs, and accessibility and availability of vaccines.

The full research report is available here.

###

About Out Boulder County:

For over 25 years, Out Boulder County has advocated, educated and provided services, programs and support to Boulder County’s LGBTQ+ communities. Our public policy advocacy is more important now than ever. www.outboulder.org

About Centro AMISTAD:

El Centro AMISTAD creates opportunities and programs that promote health equity, education, and quality of life for the Latino community in Boulder County. https://www.elcentroamistad.org/

About Unwoven Ventures:

Through strategic partnerships, Unwoven Ventures leverages original research, impact investments and grants to build community and create a more equitable and just world.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular