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Despite social progress, sexual and gender diverse adolescence continue to be at greater risk for poor mental health and substance use when compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers. At the same time, more youth are recognizing and acknowledging their sexual and gender diversity than ever before and “coming out” as LGBTQ+ at younger ages. This talk will discuss the current research on contemporary sexual and gender diverse youth and the various factors that undermine and support their positive development and health as they age into young adulthood.
This presentation will cover biological theories that support the necessity of providing clearly perceivable cues of safety to LGBTQ+ youth. Specifically, we will cover neuroception, its biological foundation, and how it can be applied to the establishment of safe environments for LGBTQ+ youth.
Adolescent development is difficult in a general sense, but compounding factors make it even more challenging for youth who happen to be gay. For many rural youth who are gay, 4-H may be the only extra-curricular outlet they have available to them. Although all children need life skills to help them become caring and contributing members of your community, LGBTQ children are profoundly vulnerable to bullying and being excluded. For many gay men within the agricultural community, the 4-H experience was one that they look back on with fondness. However, there has not been research to provide support to these anecdotal statements about the impact of 4-H club experiences on gay boys and adolescents. This workshop will present an overview of a novel research study involving 169 gay 4-H male alums. We will exploring the consistent elements of the 4-H club experience that may have been supportive or encouraging to gay male youth in feeling included and accepted based on the research findings as shared by the respondents. The session will concentrate on the major research findings to help advise youth workers regarding suggested practices and constructs that could help create more inclusive and accepting environments for LGBTQ+ youth. While this study concentrated on gay male youth, the results could influence positive environments for all LGBTQ+ youth to feel welcomed and that they belong.
The panel discussion will focus on present-day examples of efforts by organizations to address equity and belonging in their work with youth. Experts from the worlds of Extension, non-profit work, and applied research will present their activities and projects relevant to LGBTQ+ youth.