In-Depth Family Interviews, Case Studies and Surveys

The Family Acceptance Project® (FAP) uses a range of research methods including in-depth individual interviews with LGBTQ adolescents and their families, case studies and surveys to understand how family reactions to an lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) young person affect their health, mental health and well-being.

The first part of our project included in-depth individual interviews with LGBTQ 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, adjudicated and youth experiencing homelessness and their families. We reached youth and their families through schools, mainstream and LGBTQ 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, gender identity and expression, religious beliefs and values, culture and ethnicity, coming out, family response and adaptation over time, school-based experiences and victimization, coping, resiliency and strength, sources of support, future goals and aspirations.

We found that families have a range of reactions to their children’s LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ youth to help develop research-based resources and interventions to educate families and increase family support for their LGBTQ children.

We have been using our findings to develop family-education materials in several languages for families from a wide range of backgrounds, working with diverse families with LGBTQ children, LGBTQ adolescents and young adults. We have been developing provider risk-resiliency assessment materials and resources to increase providers’ cultural competency. And we collaborated with community agencies to help us develop a new research-based family approach to help support LGBTQ children and youth in a wide range of settings.

We received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop a new evidence-based family-related model of wellness, prevention and care with Child and Adolescent Services at San Francisco General Hospital / University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). We have been implementing this model in collaboration with agencies and jurisdictions in several parts of the country. To date, we have provided education and training for more than 92,000 providers, families and religious leaders on our family support approach. We have disseminated hundreds of thousands of copies of our family education materials across the U.S. and other countries. We have been working with agencies, organizations and providers to help build an international movement of family acceptance to promote wellness and healthy futures for LGBTQ children, youth and young adults. Our work is helping to change how LGBTQ children and youth are nurtured, cared for and served across disciplines and systems of care.