Last updated on September 22, 2016 @2:51 pm
More than a decade of research shows lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth throughout North America experience significant health inequities compared to their heterosexual peers, such as depression and suicide, problem substance use, even teen pregnancy. Societal stigma often leads to violence targeted towards LGBTQ youth, or teens who are thought to be LGBTQ, such as homophobic bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, even physical or sexual assault. Much of this homophobia takes place in school. At the same time, research has documented the positive effects of having a safe and supportive school environment for promoting health; school connectedness has regularly been associated with better health outcomes for young people, even when they face potent stressors as abuse or unstable home life.
What creates a supportive and safe school environment for LGBTQ youth? And can population interventions in the education sector contribute to better health outcomes among these adolescents? Our multidisciplinary, North American team of researchers, with collaborators and knowledge-users from government, community and school districts, includes experts from BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, as well as several regions of the U.S. The entire integrated program of research is guided by an intersectional, gender-sensitive approach to research questions and analyses, to better understand what works best for groups around gender, sexual orientation, culture and context. The results will guide youth- and community-engaged knowledge-to-action strategies to mobilize change in school settings. By working with school districts, education and public health professionals, and youth themselves, we hope to systematically create knowledge that is directly useful for the work they do to foster health-promoting environments in schools for all young people.
- National Inventory of School Interventions to Promote Well-being and School Connectedness among Diverse Minority Groups of Youth
- Canadian Transgender Youth Health Survey
- Project RESPEQT (Research and Education on Supportive and Protective Environments for Queer Teens)
- Vancouver Technical Secondary School Wellness Initiative
The program of research has a number of aims:
1.) Documenting the health inequities experienced by LGBTQ adolescents compared to heterosexual peers in population-based data sources, and where possible, identify assets or protective factors;
2.) Tracking trends in both the health problems, key risk factors (like bullying and other forms of violence), and protective factors, and determining how much changing trends in health issues among LGBTQ youth are explained by changing trends in risk and protective factors;
3.) Testing the long-term effects of homophobic bullying and other stressors on LGBTQ youth health and educational attainment in a national longitudinal survey in the U.S.;
4.) Conducting a national inventory of the different kinds of strategies schools and school districts use to reduce homophobia or increase school connectedness among LGBTQ youth and other groups;
5.) Linking school programs with school-based population data where possible, to identify which combinations of strategies are associated with lower rates of harassment, higher school connectedness, or reduced health problems for LGBTQ youth;
6.) Conducting community-based participatory evaluations of interventions and strategies to reduce homophobia, to understand how schools decide which strategies to choose, what outcomes they expect from the different interventions they are using, and whether these various school- and community-based strategies actually have the effects expected by those using them.
We are a team of health researchers from the University of British Columbia working in partnership with the Trans Care BC program at the Provincial Health Services Authority to improve the delivery of services to trans people who are interested in accessing gender-affirming surgeries. The Principal Investigator of this project is Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc (Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is a priority for us to make sure that the voices of trans people are heard in the process so we are conducting interviews about people’s experiences of accessing gender-affirming surgeries in British Columbia. The results of this research will contribute to efforts to improve existing systems of care for people of all genders.
Interviews will last from 60-90 minutes at a mutually agreed upon location in your area and will cover a range of topics, including the experiences with surgery readiness assessments, wait time for surgery, experiences with surgery and recovery as well as outcomes of surgery.
Our goal with this research project is to gather information on a wide diversity of experiences with the surgery and assessment process in British Columbia so not everyone who contacts us will be interviewed.
If you are interested in participating in this study and you live in BC, have undergone a readiness assessment for gender-affirming surgery or have had a gender-affirming surgery in the last 5 years, and are able to participate in an interview in English, please contact us by emailing email@example.com or calling at 778 968 6159.
The Survey of Trans Canadians’ Experiences with Gender-Affirming Surgery is a completely anonymous online survey for adults who have had a readiness assessment or gender affirming surgery(ies) in the last 5 years. You can take the survey here: www.survey.ubc.ca/s/trans-surgery-experiences/
In collaboration with Vancouver Technical High School, SARAVYC researchers, led by Dr. Sheila Marshall is evaluating their School Wellness Initiative. A Steering committee (called WIN) was created by the school and guides the project. WIN, the administration, students, teachers, and counselors were consulted about what wellness means for their school. A survey was constructed from consultations and administered as a baseline estimate of well-being in 2014. The baseline survey information has already informed what the school community wants to target to improve wellness. Each year, during the 5 year initiative, SARAVYC will survey school students to measure changes and visits classrooms to report initial findings to the students. In between yearly survey administration, the research team is carrying out observations of the school community and efforts to implement wellness initiatives.
The project has already received media attention:
Despite compelling data that lesbian and bisexual women are at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), programs tailored to the unique needs of adolescent lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) women continue to be nonexistent. Perhaps not surprisingly, LGB women’s perceptions of HIV/STI and pregnancy risk is low, even though they report higher rates of sexual behaviors that increase their risk for STIs as compared to non-LGB women. For example, data from Dr. Michelle Ybarra’s national Teen Health and Technology study suggest that 14% of bisexual and 2% of lesbian women 12-18 years of age have had penile-anal sex; 33% of bisexual and 13% of lesbian adolescent women have also had penile-vaginal sex. Compared to 53% of gay male adolescents who use condoms “most of the time,” only 26% of lesbian female adolescents who have had vaginal or anal sex do similarly. In addition to unprotected vaginal sex, multiple sexual partners and high-risk sexual partners have been noted at greater frequency among lesbian and bisexual adolescents compared to their heterosexual peers. As a result, rates of pregnancy and diagnoses of STIs are higher for LGB adolescent women than heterosexual women.
Despite this compelling evidence that lesbian and bisexual adolescent women are at risk for teen pregnancy, programs tailored to the unique needs of adolescent LGB women are nonexistent.
To fill this gap, the Center for Innovative Public Health Research (CiPHR) has asked SARAVYC researchers and others to join them in developing and evaluating Girl2Girl, which will be a novel text messaging-based teen pregnancy prevention program designed specifically for LGB women ages 14-18 years. The 10-week text messaging intervention includes: 5 weeks of risk-reduction content (e.g., how to access and use different forms of contraception), followed by a booster module delivered 4 weeks later. To capitalize on technology’s reach, participants are recruited online.
The multidisciplinary team includes:
- Michelle Ybarra – develops and tests technology-delivered, healthy sexuality programming for adolescents
- Prescott – implements and monitors technology-delivered RCTs
- Elizabeth Saewyc, Margaret Rosario, and Carol Goodenow – recognized for their work in adolescent LGB sexual health research
If Girl2Girl is effective at promoting teen pregnancy prevention behavior, it will begin filling the void of healthy sexuality programs aimed at reducing pregnancy for LGB adolescent women.
Learn more about CiPHR’s similar HIV prevention intervention called Guy2Guy.
In 2015, SARAVYC will join a team of researchers seeking to increase health knowledge about and improve services for male youth who have experienced sexual violence.The CIHR funded grant, led by Principal Investigator Christine Wekerle of McMaster University, will target Aboriginal youth health (mental health resilience) as well as the engagement of youths’ in violence prevention. The research will also target health risk behaviors, mediators of impairment, and resilience for health promotion.
The objectives are:
- to describe the mental and physical health impairment and resilience factors in males who have experienced sexual violence compared across a broad range of contexts
- to point towards promising intervention targets and service delivery contexts by documenting the mediators and moderators of the secxual violence impairment and sexual violence resilience relationship,
- to build and modify interventions addressing the complex trauma response within various service-providing contexts
- to strategically engage in knowledge translation to maximize reach and potential impact
Our goal is to form a network of researcher-community partnerships that demonstrate sustained investment in health and are prepared to address this hidden health problem. We want to forge an integrated knowledge transmission-research agenda over the next five years by bringing together 13 co-investigators working on nine multi-level projects
Lead by Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc SARAVYC will answer the following questions:
- What are the contexts, exploitation experiences, and related health challenges of sexually exploited homeless and street-involved boys, and do they differ from those of sexually exploited homeless and street-involved girls?
- What resilience factors are linked to lower odds of health problems among sexually exploited runaway and street-involved boys? What resilience factors are linked to lower odds of health problems among boys who are in school?
- How might we need to adapt an existing effective intervention among sexually exploited girls for it to be feasible and effective for sexually exploited boys to promote resilience and health risks?
In partnership with the McCreary Centre Society, Dr. Saewyc and SARAVYC will be conducting an 12-city survey of street-involved and homeless youth age 12-19, using the same participatory methods from 2006 and 2000.
During year 1, SARAVYC will be able to compare boys exploitation contexts with those of similarly street-involved girls, including age of first exploitation, housing, transience levels, and the timing of potential preceding exposures, such as first substance use, running away or being kicked out, as well as patterns of health risks and trauma responses. We will examine whether the contexts and prevalence of sexual exploitation have changed over time in BC for boys or girls, as well as changing patterns of accessing services among youth This information will support guidance to health and social services for boys and young men who have experienced exploitation, and inform intervention and policy.
We will also draw on two large-scale population surveys of school-based youth in BC and Minnesota, both of which ask boys (and girls) about childhood sexual asult, running away, health problems, and resilience factors. Although these surveys do not ask about sexual exploitation as a specific form of sexual abuse, we will be able to also test patterns of risk and resilience among boys, particularly those who are also runaways.
We will use multivariate modelling, primarily logistic regression and probability profiling, to identify how combinations of risk and protective factors influence the probability of health problems, such as suicide or self-harm, problem substance use and risky sexual behaviours. We will examine health and risks for sub-groups of boys, such as gay and bisexual boys, who are at higher risk for sexual abuse than heterosexual peers. These patterns will be used to identify promising avenues for interventions.
The Runaway Intervention Project (RIP) provides health care, intensive support and life skill development for young runaway girls (aged 10 to 15) who have been, or are at risk of being sexually assaulted or exploited. The aim of the program is to help girls heal from trauma and rebuild self-esteem and connectedness to family and school. The research project has evaluated the program since 2006, conducting a longitudinal of health outcomes for participants, and tracking the perspectives of their families and community agencies involved in the program.
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc
Co-Investigators: Der Her; Emily Huehman; Kate Richtmann; Laurel Edinburgh; Dr. Yuko Homma
Funding Agency: SARAVYC and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Most stigma measures are for a single characteristic, such as mental illness, or HIV/AIDS. This approach does not allow us to capture “layered” stigma (i.e., the compound effects of stigma from multiple stigmatized characteristics). We will develop a general stigmatization. The measure will include items that tap three dimensions of stigma; enacted stigma (rejecting hostile behaviours targeted toward stigmatized people), perceived stigma (awareness you possess a stigmatized characteristic and others reject you), and internalized stigma (acceptance of the dominant groups’ negative judgments about you). We will perform focus groups with potentially stigmatized youth as well as additional individual youth interviewees. The purpose is to make sure wording is culturally and developmentally-appropriate, and to identify ways of expressing enacted stigma not previously identified in the literature.
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc
Co-Investigators: Christopher Drozda; David Ki; Dr. Chiaki Konishi; Dr. Cheryl Kaiser; Dr. Jennifer Lloyd; Dr. Scott Carlson; Jennifer Matthews; Suzanne Clarke
Funding Agency: BC Mental Health and Addictions
Using a mixed methods approach we are critically exploring the discourse used in printed news media to describe the sexual exploitation of youth. Our data set includes approximately 1300 articles from various newspapers across Canada, 1988 – 2013 that discuss specific events, issues, research findings, and policy or legal changes related to the sexual exploitation of youth.
Click here to see our first publication using data up to 2008, “Competing Discourses about youth sexual exploitation in Canadian news media” published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality.
This project will explore questions such as:
- how might the language of sexual exploitation change over time?;
- how are victims described?; who is “typical” and who is invisible?;
- what are differences in gender and ethnicity?;
- what is the narrative structure of the stories?;
- what are the words chosen for headlines?;
- and, how are perpetrators characterized?
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc; Dr. Pam Hirakata
Co-Investigators: Dr. Chris Hitchcock; Dr. Jean Shoveller; Dr. Laura MacKay; Jayson Anderson; Jennifer Matthews; Quinn Metcalfe; Semee Joo; Stephanie Callaghan; Rob Rivers; Bea Miller; Carla Hilario
Funding Agency: SARAVYC