Be YOU!: A collaborative effort to address minority stress for LGBTQ + youth in school settings

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Fish, J. N., Kapostasy, S., & Russell, S. T. (2022). Be YOU!: A collaborative effort to address minority stress for LGBTQ + youth in school settings. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.


LGBTQ youth often experience unsafe school climates and are at greater risk for compromised mental health relative to their heterosexual and cisgender peers. The psychological mediation model posits that these health inequities are produced by minority stress, which operates through several key mechanisms: rumination, emotion regulation, and coping. Efforts toward designing social services that might address these mechanisms, and thus improve LGBTQ youth well-being, are limited. Informed by empirical research and therapeutic practices, Be YOU! was conceived as a school-based empowerment program that provides LGBTQ youth with an accessible, safe space where they build skills to reduce rumination and promote emotion regulation and coping strategies for dealing with minority stressors. Developed collaboratively among a local LGBTQ youth center, a local school-based community organization, and university researchers, the Be YOU! partnership effectively circumvented barriers to accessing social services for LGBTQ youth. Findings from the pilot program evaluation showed that youth participation was associated with increased emotion regulation and decreased rumination. The practical impact on and positive feedback from LGBTQ youth suggest that there are measurable benefits and longterm promise in strategic multi-sector partnerships that address social services needs of LGBTQ youth and strengthen their ability to navigate minority stress.