Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Family Acceptance Project

Scott and I attended the lecture Tuesday night that I blogged about previously, and it was awesome! I highly recommend it--there is still a session at Sunstone on this Saturday, August 15th, at 4:45 p.m.

The lecture presented research regarding what affect the reaction of family has on LGBT youth. Research shows that families are important to protect adolescents from many risks (such as drugs, alcohol, sex, depression, suicide, etc.). Throw LGBT issues into the mix, and negative family reactions put these youth at a much higher risk for the stuff that any teenager might face or struggle with.

Dr. Caitin Ryan presented amazing statistics that she has gathered the past few years. Even just a tiny bit of acceptance (over full rejection) of family makes a huge difference in suicide rates and other risky behaviors.

One thing that she has seen in working with LGBT youth is that there is a prevalent attitude that families are not going to be accepting, or that families should not be accepting, and as a result, the LGBT youth are afraid to talk to their parents and families about it, and for those who do talk to them, the families don't know how to react and therefore often react badly.

Therefore, one of her main goals for this project is to let people know the results of her study, and to let LGBT youth and families know that there are other families out there that not only accept their LGBT children, but celebrate who they are, and the incredible difference that it makes to the individual, the family, and the community.

The best part of the lecture was a video that she produced with this goal in mind. It was amazing, a documentary-style clip featuring a latino family with a gay son, marine father, and christian background, and the things they have done to accept their son and create a safe gathering place for other LGBT youth in their community. A man in front of me whispered to the man next to him that every member of the [LDS] church needs to see this video. I had been thinking about the same thing. She plans to do several videos like this one, and when she has four or five of them, post them online, and then create a dvd when she has about eight of them done. The project depends on donations, and that is really the only thing holding it back. It costs about $40,000 to produce one high-quality video, and she has 2 of them done and is currently fundraising for the third one.

Again, the website for the project is for anyone who would like more information.

I personally left the lecture bubbling with enthusiasm for activism. I am very excited to be helping with a gay-straight alliance at my school this year, and hope and pray that we can get it going. I know now more than ever just how important this actually is.


Ned said...

You wrote: "She plans to do several videos like this one, and when she has four or five of them, post them online, and then create a dvd when she has about eight of them done."

I'm actually shocked at this. Her videos should be posted immediately in my opinion, especially since they concern a matter of life and death for some teens and young men in their early twenties who may have elected not to serve missions and then get depressed and, well you know the unfortunate end to so many of these stories.

My point is why wait any longer to produce additional videos when two are already in the can. She should get them out of the can and on to YouTube and elsewhere immediately. In fact by posting now she could gather valuable feedback (formative evaluation, if you prefer more the formal term for it) that could guide in the production of the other videos. She could also appeal for funds via her online posting.

But most importantly she may help prevent another suicide by getting out the information sooner rather than later.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now, and, yes, Sarah, I realize that you're just the messenger here. My shock is not directed at you. Thank you for sharing this. I guess I need to go on to her site and share my opinion there, but thanks for providing a place for me to vent. Hugs to both you and Scott!

Sarah said...

Ned, there were people in the audience that tried to convince her of that very thing, but she kept saying that she wanted to present several different situations and circumstances all at the same time. She obviously has some kind of plan in mind, and it is her project after all. But I totally agree with what you are saying here.

After the presentation, I asked her if I could get a copy of her PowerPoint presentation, and one slide in particular, but she just told me that eventually it would be on her website with further information, and until then, she was not willing to give it to anyone without full details and explanations.

What she is doing is great. She has a lot of experience with the research she has done the last few years. Maybe her experiences lead her to believe that doing it right is more important than doing it fast.