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Family Acceptance Project, 15 years building family support for LGBTQ kids
From a press release
2017-11-25

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( San Francisco, CA ) — November 17, 2017 - Family Acceptance Project ( FAP ) - the world's first research, intervention, education and policy initiative that helps diverse families learn to support their LGBTQ children to prevent serious health risks and promote well-being is proud to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary. Founded by Dr. Caitlin Ryan and Dr. Rafael Diaz of San Francisco State University in 2002, FAP's pioneering research and intervention strategies to engage parents, caregivers and other family members as allies to support their LGBTQ children and adolescents have established the critical role of family acceptance in helping to protect against risk and promote well-being for LGBTQ children and youth. FAP's comprehensive research on LGBTQ youth and their families has shown for the first time how family rejection and acceptance contribute to their children's risk and well-being, including increased risk for suicide, depression, substance abuse and HIV, while protecting against multiple serious health risks. FAP's first-ever Family Support Model — grounded in this research — provides a vital roadmap to reduce family rejection that can lead to homelessness and placement in foster care and juvenile justice systems and to increase acceptance and support for LGBTQ children and youth among family members and others in their congregations and communities.

Said FAP's Director, Dr. Caitlin Ryan: "When we founded the Family Acceptance Project 15 years ago, there was no research or model to show the critical role of families in contributing to risk and well-being for LGBTQ children and youth. Families were still seen as adversaries, not as allies or potential sources of support for their LGBTQ children, so parents and caregivers were routinely excluded from their LGBTQ children's care. A core part of FAP's model has focused on supporting families from all ethnic, racial, cultural and religious backgrounds. Based on our years of research and family intervention work, we have developed an approach to help culturally and religiously diverse families — including very conservative families — learn to support their LGBTQ children even when they believe that being gay or transgender is wrong.

We hear from families and providers every day about how our work has made a profound difference in the lives of thousands of LGBTQ youth from all backgrounds — including from very rejecting families. We're heartened that more families are learning to accept and support their LGBTQ children. But having seen so starkly the devastating impact of family rejection on all aspects of an LGBTQ child's life, we can't stop until FAP's family-based approach to support LGBTQ children is integrated into all settings where children and youth are nurtured and served. Family acceptance literally saves lives. FAP is proud to be at the forefront of launching an international movement to promote family acceptance and build healthy futures for all LGBTQ children and youth."

Long-time collaborator, Jerry Peterson, Executive Director of Detroit's Ruth Ellis Center, noted, "FAP's research-based Family Support Model is the most comprehensive and effective approach available anywhere to guide our work with diverse families and LGBTQ young people. Our team is implementing FAP's strategies across every service area and seeing a positive impact on families that isn't possible with other approaches. Increasing family support is vital to address the trauma our LGBTQ youth have experienced. FAP's Family Support Model must become the national gold standard of care for LGBTQ children, youth and their families!"

Among FAP's key accomplishments over its 15-year history:

Establishing the critical role of family acceptance in preventing risk and promoting well-being for LGBTQ young people. This includes developing a research-based language of specific family accepting and rejecting behaviors that helps families to identify and change harmful behaviors that erode parent-child connectedness and contribute to serious health risks, and to increase family accepting and supportive behaviors that protect against risk and promote well-being. This behavioral approach has enabled FAP to implement its family support approach with families from diverse backgrounds, cultures, faith traditions, literacy levels and languages.

Providing education and training for 85,000 providers, families, and religious leaders on FAP's Family Support Model across the U.S. and in several other countries.

Disseminating 530,000 copies of the first "Best Practice" guide for suicide prevention for families with LGBTQ youth included in the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention, with guidance on how to prevent negative outcomes and promote the well-being of their LGBTQ children. These resources have been distributed across all 50 states, in over 70 countries, and in English, Spanish, Chinese, and faith-based versions.

Producing a growing series of Best Practice family education videos that show the journey of real-life families to accept their LGBTQ children, winning 23 cumulative awards and seen by more than 320,000 families. providers and religious leaders across the U.S. and other countries. These include Always My Son, about a Latino military family and their gender-diverse son, and Families Are Forever, about a Mormon family coming to accept their young gay son. FAP is currently producing a new video about an African American family.

Implementing FAP's research-based Family Support Model in multiple settings around the country, in collaboration with Detroit's Ruth Ellis Center to increase family support for LGBTQ youth and families in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems; with Santa Clara County's Bill Wilson Center to reunify homeless LGBTQ youth and families; with the University of California - San Francisco's Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic at Mount Zion to integrate FAP's family approach into primary care services; and with Provo, Utah's Flourish Counseling Services to reduce risk for suicide, depression and ejection from the home and to increase well-being for LGBTQ youth in faith-based mental health services.

About the Family Acceptance Project

The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative, affiliated with San Francisco State University, that is designed to: 1 ) prevent risk, including suicide and homelessness, and promote well-being for LGBTQ children and adolescents in the context of their families, cultures and faith communities; and 2 ) develop, disseminate and implement the first research-based, family model of wellness, prevention, and care to build healthy futures for LGBTQ children and youth. For more information, please visit familyproject.sfsu.edu .


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