research

In-Depth Family Interviews, Case Studies and Surveys

The Family Acceptance Project™ uses a range of research methods including in-depth individual interviews with LGBT adolescents and their families, case studies and surveys to understand how family reactions to an LGBT young person affect their health, mental health and well-being.

The first part of our project includes in-depth individual interviews with LGBT adolescents and their families throughout California. We reached out to youth from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and geographic areas. This includes youth from accepting, ambivalent and rejecting families, including youth living in gated, middle-class, low income, farming and rural communities, immigrant families, youth in foster care, and adjudicated and homeless youth and their families. We reached youth and their families through schools, mainstream and LGBT youth service organizations, youth and family service agencies, peer outreach workers, foster care and residential programs.

Our interviews focused on family history and child development, sexual orientation and gender identity, religious beliefs and values, sexual orientation, culture and ethnicity, coming out, family response and adaptation over time, school-based experiences and victimization, resiliency and strength, sources of support, future goals and aspirations.

We found that families have a range of reactions to their children’s LGBT identity and express their reactions through behaviors that affect their children’s health and mental health outcomes. Our research linked family responses with risk and protective factors for key concerns including sexual health, HIV infection, substance use, depression, suicide and well-being. We also assessed the availability of services for families of LGBT youth to help develop research-based resources and interventions to educate families and increase family support for their LGBT children.

We are using our findings to develop family-education materials in several languages, working with diverse families with LGBT children, adolescents and young adults. We are developing provider risk-resiliency assessment materials and resources to increase providers’ cultural competency. And we are collaborating with community agencies to help us develop a new research-based family approach to help support LGBT children and youth in a wide range of settings. We have received a matching grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop a new evidence-based family-related model of prevention and care with Child and Adolescent Services at San Francisco General Hospital / UCSF that we will disseminate to agencies and programs across the country. Our findings will also be used to inform policy and to improve the way that systems of care address the needs of LGBT children and adolescents.