Stressors experienced by parents of sexual and gender minority youth in collectivist communities

Sexual minority youth in British Columbia (BC) feel less supported by parents now than their sexual minority peers did in 1998, especially by fathers. There are few interventions designed for families, and almost all are group-based approaches in urban centres, with limited evaluation of their outcomes. Studies have shown the effectiveness of on-line and text-messaging approaches in sustaining health behaviour change, including by our research team, and such interventions can bypass barriers and access issues for parents and youth, even in rural areas (e.g., privacy, transportation, competing life demands, lack of available local professionals). However, studies of text-messaging interventions for sexual minority youth, while conducted in the United States by our team, have not been implemented in Canada, nor for parents. Further, there is very little research on how well families support rural sexual minority youth, or those from various ethnocultural and immigrant backgrounds, or if these youth face even greater health inequities due to the intersection of racism and stigma. There is no research on the extent to which protective factors like family connectedness buffer the effects of stigma for different ethnic groups of sexual minority youth in Canada and globally.

Although research has provided some direction about what lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two Spirit, and other (LGBTQ/2S+) youth need from their parents to thrive, such as warmth, care and closeness, we have limited knowledge of the stressors and barriers parents face in supporting their youth and parents’ strategies for managing those stressors and barriers. 

Our research will identify culturally specific knowledge to create new, culturally relevant family and youth interventions, to improve their health and reduce the health disparities sexual minority youth face. These interventions will seek to effectively reach youth and their parents in rural as well as in urban areas, among diverse cultural groups, in order to improve support, health knowledge, and motivation for healthy coping.

The objectives of this study are:

  • To understand the experience of parents of LGBTQ/2S+ youth in response to disclosure of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • To identify and understand the stressors and barriers parents face within their communities and extended families in supporting their LGBTQ/2S+ youth, and parents’ strategies for navigating those stressors and barriers.
  • To understand the role of collectivist and cultural communities on parental support of LGBTQ/2S+ youth.
  • To gather feedback on developing interventions to support parents of LGBTQ/2S+ youth.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc


Dr. Sheila Marshall, Professor, School of Social Work, UBC
Dr. Chichun Lin, Assistant Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Faculty of Education, University of Winnipeg
Dr. Monica Rana, Managing Director, SARAVYC, School of Nursing, UBC
Shannon Millar, Research Assistant, SARAVYC, School of Nursing, UBC

Funded by: CIHR (Foundation Scheme) & SSHRC