New research shows that rates of depression, suicide and illegal drug use are many times higher among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth than among their peers. Seven AIR human and social development experts share their insights in a new book, Improving Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes for LGBT Youth: A Guide for Professionals. The book describes how youth-serving systems, organizations, and individual professionals can address the needs of LGBT youth and promote their healthy development. It also addresses the effects of bias, harassment, bullying, peer/family rejection and other social pressures.
Just published by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., Inc., the book helps develop the knowledge and skills of program administrators, policymakers and decisionmakers, and professionals in multiple settings, including child welfare, education, juvenile justice and mental health. Chapters synthesize research findings, policy, and practice recommendations and include online resources aimed at improving services and supports for LGBT youth.
“All youth, including those who are LGBT, should learn and thrive in schools where they are welcomed, respected, supported and emotionally and physically safe. Addressing anti-LGBT bullying and making schools safer for LGBT students can benefit all youth,” notes Jeffrey Poirier, AIR senior researcher, in the chapter “Fostering Welcoming, Safe and Supportive Schools for LGBT Youth.” Poirier co-edited the volume with Dr. Sylvia Fisher, director of the Office of Research and Evaluation, Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation, Health Resources and Services Administration; and Dr. Gary Blau, Chief of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch, Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Schools present key challenges but also valuable opportunities for…professionals to enhance the experiences of LGBT youth and improve their emotional, behavioral, educational and other outcomes through improved school climate,” Poirier also wrote.
The volume provides professionals with standards of care and recommendations for building systems and organizations to support LGBT youth. Among them:
- Advocating for equality and for treatment, services and supports that acknowledge and appropriately respond to the needs of LGBT youth and their families
- Deepening their own understanding and that of others about LGBT youth and their experiences
- Connecting with community-based provider organizations to offer training and information about community resources for LGBT youth; and, where these supports are limited, working with other communities, technical assistance providers, and LGBT-affirming organizations to develop them
- Identifying and connecting with welcoming, affirming faith-based organizations to raise awareness around the need for ongoing support for LGBT youth and families
- Working with local LGBT-affirming community organizations to secure greater support, including resources (e.g., youth groups) for LGBT youth, providers and organizations
AIR authors contributed to the following chapters:
- Chapter 1. Addressing the Needs of LGBT Youth and Their Families: A Public Health Perspective (Okori Christopher)
- Chapter 2. Providing Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Services and Supports to Address the Needs of LGBT Youth and Their Families (Jeffrey Poirier, Kenneth Martinez, and Karen Francis)
- Chapter 4. Sexual Identity Development and Self-Identification Expression in LGBT Youth (Coretta Mallery and Jeffrey Poirier)
- Chapter 9. Addressing the Needs of LGBT Youth and Their Families: Building Systems of Care to Support Effective Therapeutic and Programmatic Interventions and Resources (Coretta Mallery)
- Chapter 10. Standards of Care for LGBT Youth (Kim Pawley Helfgott and Simon Gonsoulin)
- Chapter 11. Fostering Safe, Welcoming, and Supportive Schools for LGBT Youth (Jeffrey Poirier)
- Chapter 16. Internet-Based Information and Resources for Supporting LGBT Youth and Providing Culturally Competent Services (Jeffrey Poirier)
- Chapter 17. Where Do We Go From Here? Next Steps for Research, Practice, and Policy (Jeffrey Poirier)