Wednesday, October 24, 2018

New Kansas LGBTQ Youth Study

With all the difficult challenges our LGBTQ youth continue to experience growing up in small Midwestern towns the good news is that there's a new University of Kansas research study that finds it’s not all a negative experience & that communities are becoming more supportive in multiple ways. Megan Paceley a University of Kansas assistant professor of social welfare has co-authored a study that conducted in-depth interviews with self-identified sexual or gender minority youths between the ages of 14 & 18 who live in small communities in Midwest counties with less than 25,000 people. The study approached small town support from the “Strengths Perspective” which focuses on an individual’s, strengths, opportunities & support rather than a problem & how to fix it when working with individuals in social work settings. The young people identified several factors, including Gay Straight Alliances in their schools, supportive allies, safe places to meet, visibility or simply good friends as factors that made them like their small hometowns. While not all was positive many said they loved their communities, even if they had room for improvement. Paceley stated, “Anybody who works with youths or is around them in the community can look at this & say, ‘Where do we go from here & how can we make things better?’ Can we do something small like putting a sticker in a window or making training available? My whole goal is that this information is used to find what’s happening in a community, what’s going right & what can be improved. Letting kids be the experts on their own lives & giving communities a chance to be supportive is best. We can help people find opportunities to talk about it & learn what to do. That’s a place to start.”
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