Project to Reduce Health Disparities Among LGBT Latino Youth & Young Adults

banner ad

San Francisco, CA — The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) is being featured as a “Promising Practice” for reducing health disparities among LGBT Latinos at a conference on Community-Defined Solutions for Latino Mental Health sponsored by the Center for Reducing Health Disparities (CRHD) at the University of California Davis, School of Medicine and the Latino Mental Health Concilio. Held at the UC Davis Conference Center on Thursday, October 18, 2012 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the conference highlights strategic directions and core strategies identified in a comprehensive statewide assessment conducted by the Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the Latino Mental Health Concilio. This study examined mental health disparities for Latinos over an 18-month period across California, and identified community-defined, strength-based promising practices, models, resources, and approaches that can be used as strategies to reduce disparities in Latino mental health.

Selected as a “Promising Practice” for reducing mental health disparities among LGBT Latinos, the Family Acceptance Project – affiliated with SF State University – is the only research, intervention, education and policy initiative that helps diverse families support their LGBT children in the context of family, culture and faith. As a promising practice for prevention and early mental health intervention for Latino children, adolescents and young adults, the Family Acceptance Project offers a culturally and linguistically grounded and evidence-based approach to help Latino and families from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds support their LGBT children to decrease mental health risks, including suicide, and to promote well-being and positive development.

The Family Acceptance Project research team initiated the first comprehensive research on Latino LGBT youth, young adults and families more than a decade ago. This includes research conducted in English and Spanish across California with Latino LGBT youth and families from urban, suburban, rural and farmworker communities; families from socially and religiously diverse backgrounds; acculturated and immigrant families; families whose children were placed in foster care and the juvenile justice system, as well as extended, single-parent and foster families. FAP studied family life, religious and cultural values, school and peer experiences, gender expression and LGBT identity development, social support and adjustment or disruption after parents, caregivers and other family members learned about the adolescent’s LGBT identity.  FAP research identified more than 100 specific accepting and rejecting behaviors that families and caregivers use to react to their adolescent’s LGBT identity and then linked each of these accepting and rejecting behaviors with health and mental health concerns in young adulthood.

Research from the Family Acceptance Project shows that families have a compelling impact on their LGBT child’s health and mental health. In particular, higher rates of family rejection were associated with increased rates of attempted suicide, high levels of depression, illegal drug use and sexual risk behaviors, while acceptance and supportive reactions to an adolescent’s LGBT identity were found to be protective against depression, substance abuse and suicide attempts and were linked with overall health, self-esteem, and social support.

The Family Acceptance Project has been developing an evidence-based family intervention model that helps Latino and other ethnically and religiously diverse families decrease rejecting behaviors that increase risk for serious health problems and increase family support for LGBT youth, to help maintain LGBT youth in their homes and promote their LGBT children’s well-being. A core aspect of FAP’s research and family intervention work is meeting families “where they are” and helping very diverse families, including highly religious and conservative families to support their LGBT children. FAP has trained extensively on their family-focused approach to support LGBT children and youth in CA, across the U.S. and in Spanish-speaking countries. FAP’s research-based family education materials in Spanish and other languages have been designated as the first “Best Practice” resources for suicide prevention for LGBT people by the national Best Practice Registry for Suicide Prevention.

For information about the October 18 conference on Community-Defined Solutions for Latino Mental Health convened by the Center for Reducing Health Disparities (CRHD) and the Latino Mental Health Concilio contact crhd@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu or visit http://www.latinomentalhealthconcilio.org/conference/  to register.

About the Family Acceptance Project

The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative that is designed to: 1) improve the health, mental health, and well-being of LGBT children and adolescents; 2) strengthen and help ethnically and religiously diverse families to support their LGBT children; 3) help LGBT youth stay in their homes to prevent homelessness and the need for custodial care in the foster care and juvenile justice systems; 4) inform public policy and family policy; and 5) develop a new evidence-based, family model of wellness, prevention, and care to promote well-being and decrease risk for LGBT youth. For more information, please visit:   http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/