In a new Journal of Youth and Adolescence article, family science assistant professor Dr. Jessica Fish explores who engages in and benefits from communal lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning LGBTQ organizations. The paper found young LGBTQ persons who participated in community-based LGBTQ organizations were more likely to have better mental health and less likely to use or abuse substances than their peers.
“The article is the first, to my knowledge, to test the impact of LGBTQ youths participation in LGBTQ community centers and programs,” said Dr. Fish. “We believe that they could be an untapped resource for supporting the positive development and health of LGBTQ young people.”
The paper’s findings suggest that youth who are involved with LGBTQ community resources report better mental health and lower substance use. Long-term participation was linked to greater self-esteem and lower rates of substance abuse.
Dr. Fish worked with community partner Ms. Deborah Levine, the Director of LGBT YouthLink, a division of CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers. While CenterLink supports the growth of LGBTQ centers nationwide, YouthLink focuses on LGBTQ centers for youths and amplifies young voices.
“This is an important foundational study for LGBTQ youth organizations to understand who is participating in their programs and the associated impacts of that participation,” Ms. Levine said.
Dr. Jessica Fish’s research focuses on the health and well-being of sexual and gender minority people and their families. She has recently published several articles studying differences in substance use and abuse among subgroups of the LGBTQ community. Her research has given credence to the theory that the accumulation of daily microaggressions strongly contributes to LGBTQ persons’ substance use.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 25