Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A special message for young trans folks

Dear Beloved Child,

I say beloved because you are special and lovable exactly as you are.  I was thinking about this today when the song, "You are beautiful" by Christine Agullara came on the radio.  The words are so breathtaking and inspiring.  If you haven't heard it, make a point of finding it and listening to every word.

She says it so much better than I ever could and if you could just believe how true her words are, maybe it well help you to feel strong on those days when you feel lost, or like you don't fit in, or may never be accepted.

Maybe your homelife isn't happy.  Perhaps your parents will not accept your truth.  Or maybe they support you, but finding that same support in school is not possible right now.  I wish, so many of us wish, that we could make everything ok for you right now.  But to borrow the words from the movement on YouTube, please know:


There will come a day when you will be surrounded by people who love you and care that you're happy.  If those people are not the family you are born into, they will be the family you choose.  Until that time, you must, for your very survival physically and emotionally, dig deep and look for small pockets of happiness where-ever you can find them.  A smile from a perfect stranger, encouragement from a teacher, a hug from a friend, the sun streaming through the clouds, the bustle of a city, or the quiet birdsong in the morning-these small things will sustain you until your life is in a place where you can be who you are, love who you wish, present in the manner that makes you happy.  

I don't know the realities of your lives, those of you who must remain closeted for your own safety. But I can imagine how hard it must be to just be yourself. Fitting into this world where so much of who we are is judged by how we look is hard for many of us.  Your road is not an easy one, and may be considerably longer than mine, but rest assured, many of us will be, at the very least, your occasional travel companions as we struggle to be accepted and loved.  And when our paths diverge, I, like so many others, will be thinking of you, wishing you well, hoping for a happier tomorrow for you and loving you for your courage, whether we know you or not.  "You are beautiful in every single matter what they say....words can't bring you down."  For more hope-please check out:

Trans kids/teens-check out CNN tonight

Flying Pig has been sending me everything that crosses her desk regarding LGBT issues.  A big shout out and thanks to her for that!!!  We love you Flying Pig!

CNN is airing a special tonight at 8 pm eastern standard time on transgender kids and teens.  My guess is if you don't catch it tonight, you may be able to catch it on CNN's webpage.  In the meantime, if you click on this link, there are other televised features focusing on this subject, as well, that you might want to view.  It's encouraging to see how tactfully the reporters are, how understanding many families and communities are.

Family Acceptance Project-LGBT teens, check this out

Family Acceptance Project

SAN FRANCISCO – NOVEMBER 15, 2011 - New research has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who attend middle or high schools with Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) have better mental health as young adults, are less likely to drop out of high school, and more likely to attend college. Published in the current issue of Applied Developmental Science, this is the first study to show that GSA participation is related to long-term benefits. The study, High School Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Young Adult Well-Being, is based on data from the Family Acceptance Project’s survey of LGBT young adults, which examined the school-related experiences of 245 LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25.  

Prior research has shown that LGBT youth are at risk for school victimization based on their sexual orientation and gender expression; that LGB youth and young adults report higher levels of depression and other mental health problems than heterosexual peers in a range of studies; and that LGBT school bullying is related to compromised academic achievement. However, until now, there have been few indicators to show whether positive school-based supports can help prevent these negative outcomes in young adulthood. In this new study, the positive impact of GSAs was particularly strong when students viewed their Gay-Straight Alliances as effective in promoting a safer school environment.

The study also shows that the benefits of Gay-Straight Alliances diminish as levels of LGBT school victimization increase; that is, the protective nature of GSAs is not enough to overcome the negative impact of LGBT victimization on young adult mental health. Thus, the authors document that Gay-Straight Alliances cannot be proposed as the sole solution for creating safer school climates for LGBT youth. Instead, schools need to implement other efforts to reduce anti-LGBT bias in schools in combination with the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances, such as enumerated anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies, teacher training on how to intervene in school harassment related to sexual orientation and gender expression, and an LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

These findings are of particular importance in light of recent tragic incidents of school violence – such as the murder of Larry King in 2008 and the multiple suicides of young men perceived to be gay in 2010 and 2011 who experienced high levels of LGBT school victimization. Further, several schools and districts continue to attempt to ban the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances (e.g., school board of Nassau County in 2009; Okeechobee High School in 2008 [both in Florida]; Flour Buff High School in Corpus Christi, TX, in 2011), even though GSAs are protected by the 1984 Federal Equal Access Act. In addition, the Anoka-Hennepin School District has a policy that requires staff to “remain neutral in matters related to sexual orientation including but not limited to student led discussion” that belies the purpose of GSAs which is to provide a supportive school-related environment where students can learn about and openly discuss and educate the school community on LGBT issues.

Said co-author Russell Toomey: “Given the recent attention to tragic deaths by suicide related to anti-LGBT school bullying over the past year, our research documents that having Gay-Straight Alliances in schools is an important way to boost mental health and academic achievement for LGBT young people. However, Gay-Straight Alliances should not be perceived as the only vehicle for creating safer school climates for students – clearly, our findings document that other LGBT-positive supports need to be implemented in schools for LGBT students to thrive.”

Noted co-author Stephen T. Russell: “This study adds to the mounting evidence that youth-led clubs are important for healthy development – especially for youth at risk. For LGBT youth, high school gay-straight alliances make a significant positive difference.”

Dr. Caitlin Ryan, study co-author and Director of the Family Acceptance Project at SF State University added, “This new study on the benefits of GSAs to health and education adds to our growing understanding of the importance of social environments and the need to provide institutional support for LGBT youth to promote well-being in adulthood.”

Citation: Toomey, R. B., Ryan, C., Diaz, R. M., & Russell, S. T. (2011). High school gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and young adult well-being: An examination of GSA presence, participation, and perceived effectiveness. Applied Developmental Science, 15(4),1-11.

About the Family Acceptance Project
The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative that is designed to: 1) improve the health, mental health, and well-being of LGBT children and adolescents; 2) strengthen and help ethnically and religiously diverse families to support their LGBT children; 3) help LGBT youth to stay in their homes to prevent homelessness and the need for custodial care in the foster care and juvenile justice systems; 4) inform public policy and family policy; and 5) develop a new evidence-based, family model of wellness, prevention, and care to promote well-being and decrease risk for LGBT youth. For more information, please visit