SAN FRANCISCO JUNE 23, 2015 The need to prevent stigma-related health risks for LGBT youth and young adults including mental health, substance abuse, suicide, homelessness and sexual health risks calls for developing low cost options that promote well-being and increase connectedness. A new study from the Family Acceptance Project that examined the role of family, peers and community support during adolescence on positive adjustment and well-being in LGBT young adults confirms the important role of support especially family support for LGBT youth and young adults.
The study, "Social Support Networks for LGBT Young Adults," published in the July issue of Family Relations reports on data from the Family Acceptance Project's young adult survey which examined the relationship between family acceptance and LGBT-positive peer and community support during adolescence with positive adjustment in young adulthood. Conducted in English and Spanish with immigrant and U.S.-born populations, the survey included 245 Latino and non-Latino white LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25.
Little is known about the relationship between multiple forms of social support for LGBT youth and their well-being in young adulthood. In the current study, researchers found that family, peer, and community support were strong predictors of positive adjustment in young adulthood, including life satisfaction, self-esteem, and sense of self-worth as an LGBT young adult. Being open about one's LGBT identity to more individuals within their social network was highly linked with satisfaction with their life situation and with having positive perceptions of their LGBT identity. However, acceptance by their family during adolescence had the strongest influence on overall adjustment and well-being, compared with other forms of support.
This study points to the need for increasing social support for LGBT young people during childhood and adolescence, starting with education and guidance for parents, families and caregivers; increasing peer-based supports, including school diversity clubs and access to LGBT community resources; and expanding community and public education initiatives to increase awareness, understanding and accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity and the importance of family and peer support among social institutions, congregations and agencies that serve children, youth and families.
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 LGBT children and adolescents in the context of their families, cultures and faith communities; and 2 ) has developed a new research-based, family model of wellness, prevention, and care to build healthy futures for LGBT children and youth. For more information, please visit familyproject.sfsu.edu