Tag Archives: homophobia

Is the Current Political Climate Hurting LGBTQ Youth? What Schools and Families Can Do


By Tyler Hatchel, MA (Counseling Psychology Doctoral Student, University of Florida, Espelage Lab)


How is the current sociopolitical climate impacting at-risk LGBTQ youth?


Although I believe that simply seeing or hearing about the diminished rights of diverse and oppressed folk is distressing for LGBTQ youth, Bandura’s seminal work on Social Learning Theory might suggest that the impact is more insidious. This theory posits that new behavior can be learned by simply watching and imitating others1. The likelihood of a new behavior occurring is potentially influenced by observed rewards or punishments (i.e., vicarious reinforcement).  It is then plausible that seeing aggression, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma being rewarded with monumental power could shape how all youth in the U.S. behave.


There is well established research showing that aggression in the sense of peer victimization and bullying is deleterious to the mental health of LGBTQ youth33,6,11,12,15,17. Although there are many different ways to frame aggression, Bandura (1973) has demonstrated that seeing aggressive behavior often predicts future aggression.  It follows then that the sociopolitical climate in the U. S. could predict more peer victimization directed at diverse youth like LGBTQ students.  However, there is not much school administrators and parents can do to easily change a nation’s political climate.  However, there are things one can do to change community or school climate.


What can schools do?


Create safe and supportive environments:



Accommodating the needs of LGBTQ youth are profound for improving school climate. School climate is vital when it comes to their well-being. Many studies have demonstrated that accepting and warm climates serve as protective factors whereas less accommodating climates have a negative impact on LGBTQ youth7,9,10,16.  Programs and policies play a large role in shaping school climate.


Use teachers and staff to reduce discrimination:



Teachers and staff are essential to creating welcoming environments for LGBTQ youth as well. If students hear prejudice from their teachers or do not observe an appreciation for diversity, then it is reasonable to posit that this would diminish the quality of climate and even predict student discrimination. I trust schools can protect their LGBTQ youth by hiring teachers and staff who are diverse themselves and allies for diverse youth. Watching role models be allies for LGBTQ youth could cultivate a sense of belonging for LGBTQ students.  I suspect some schools are not ready to remodel their entire staff.  If hiring is not a strategy available, training is another approach.  Cultivate an appreciation and understanding of diversity in your teachers.  Make it a point to incorporate LGBTQ-specific curriculum in your classes.


Foster school connectedness:



Feeling connected is another critical part of LGBTQ youth well-being4,5. Some research has suggested that peer victimization diminishes belonging which then predicts associated mental health issues like suicidality8. Although belonging and connectedness can be specific to an LGBTQ community, they do not have to be. LGBTQ youth can find belonging in theatre club or marching band if these programs are accepting or even appreciative of diversity.  I know I would feel connected to a band or club if the teacher was committed to social justice issues, an ally, and/or identified as LGBTQ.


But what can parents do, you ask?


You can be models for all youth by appreciating diversity in your homes and communities. Furthermore, you can advocate for the inclusion of anti-bullying programs, trans-inclusive policies, and other options like Gay Straight Alliances.  You can also push for the inclusion of diverse teachers/staff in your children’s schools.  Finally, please be an understanding and proud parent of your LGBTQ children as that is clearly another protective factor for LGBTQ youth13.


Essentials for LGBTQ youth well-being:


  • Less exposure to peer victimization
  • Warm and accommodating school climates
  • A sense of belonging and connectedness
  • Supportive families
  • Positive role models who appreciate diversity



LGBTQ youth are an incredibly important and valuable part of our society. Although these youth are clearly resilient, it is their right to be treated as equals by our schools, communities, and families.  This is especially true when dire sociopolitical climates are disheartening.


Resources for LGBTQ youth, parents, and schools:






1Bandura, A., (1971). Social learning theory. General Learning Corporation.

2Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A social learning analysis. Oxford, England: Prentice-Hall.

3Birkett, M., Espelage, D.L., & Koenig, B. (2009). LGB and questioning students in schools: The moderating effects of homophobic bullying and school climate on negative outcomes. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 989 – 1000. doi: 10.1007/s10964-008-9389-1

4Eisenberg, M. E., Neumark‐Sztainer, D., & Perry, C. L. (2003). Peer harassment, school connectedness, and academic achievement. Journal of School Health, 73, 311-316. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2003.tb06588.x

5Eisenberg, M. E., & Resnick, M. D. (2006). Suicidality among gay, lesbian and bisexual youth: The role of protective factors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 662-668. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.04.024

6Espelage, D. L., Merrin, G. J., & Hatchel, T. (2016). Peer Victimization and Dating Violence Among LGBTQ Youth: The Impact of School Violence and Crime on Mental Health Outcomes. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 1-18. doi: 10.1177/1541204016680408

7Goodenow, C., Szalacha, L., & Westheimer, K. (2006). School support groups, other school factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 43(5), 573-589. DOI: 10.1002/pits.20173

8 Hatchel, T., Espelage, D. L., & Huang, Y. (in press). Sexual harassment victimization, school belonging, and depressive symptoms among LGBTQ adolescents: Temporal insights. Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

9Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Birkett, M., Van Wagenen, A., & Meyer, I. H. (2014). Protective school climates and reduced risk for suicide ideation in sexual minority youths. American Journal of Public Health, 104(2), 279-286. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301508

10Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Keyes, K. M. (2013). Inclusive anti-bullying policies and reduced risk of suicide attempts in lesbian and gay youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S21-S26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.08.010

11 Huebner, D. M., Thoma, B. C., & Neilands, T. B. (2015). School victimization and substance use among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents. Prevention Science, 16(5), 734-743. DOI: 10.1007/s11121-014-0507-x

12Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Bartkiewicz, M. J., Boesen, M. J., & Palmer, N. A. (2012). The 2011 national school climate survey. New York, NY: GLSEN.

13Poteat, V. P., Mereish, E. H., DiGiovanni, C. D., & Koenig, B. W. (2011). The effects of general and homophobic victimization on adolescents’ psychosocial and educational concerns: the importance of intersecting identities and parent support. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58, 597. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0025095

14Robinson, J.P., & Espelage, D.L. (2011). Inequities in educational and psychological outcomes between LGBTQ and straight students in middle and high school. Educational Researcher, 40, 315-330. doi: 10.3102/0013189X11422112

15 Toomey, R. B., Ryan, C., Diaz, R. M., Card, N. A., & Russell, S. T. (2010). Gender-nonconforming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth: school victimization and young adult psychosocial adjustment. Developmental psychology, 46(6), 1580. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0020705

16Ueno, K. (2005). Sexual orientation and psychological distress in adolescence: Examining interpersonal stressors and social support processes. Social Psychology Quarterly, 68, 258-277.

17Ybarra, M. L., Mitchell, K. J., Kosciw, J. G., & Korchmaros, J. D. (2015). Understanding linkages between bullying and suicidal ideation in a national sample of LGB and heterosexual youth in the United States. Prevention Science, 16, 451-462. doi: 10.1007/s11121-014-0510-2




Tyler James Hatchel, MA is a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Florida, Department of Psychology. Tyler graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a BA and MA in psychology. His research interests broadly include developmental psychology, prevention science, aggression, and mental health. He is particularly interested in examining the well-being of at risk and stigmatized youth. More specifically, he has completed a number of studies that explored the various risk and protective factors that shape the relations between peer victimization and poor outcomes for LGBTQ youth. He is also interested in digital media, suicidality, and tele-health. He is currently appointed as a research assistant for Dr. Espelage’s lab which focuses on understanding and preventing bullying, peer aggression, and sexual assault. Tyler has both been the recipient of a number of awards and published a few studies. He has worked with at The Trevor Project, with number of public school administrators, and served as a counselor at the University of Florida. He would like to become appointed as a professor and continue completing translational research that proves beneficial for at risk and stigmatized youth.

Filed under: Children and Youth, Human Rights and Social Justice, LGBT Issues Tagged: bullying, bullying prevention, Education, homophobia, LGBT allies, LGBT students, LGBT youth, politics, safe and supportive schools, safe schools, school climate, school connectedness, transphobia

How Black Boys Turn Blue: The Effects of Masculine Ideology on Same-Gender Loving Men


By Courtland Douglas (Psychology Graduate Student, Texas Southern University) & Erlanger Turner, PhD (Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Houston-Downtown)


What Do We Mean by the Term “Same-Gender Loving”?


They say, “Black boys turn blue in the moonlight”. In the Oscar winning movie Moonlight, the story follows character Chiron as he develops into a man. What’s interesting about Chiron’s story is that it mirrors that of countless other African American men. Chiron is simply not allowed to “be” – he’s bullied for being “Little,” beaten because of his demeanor, and denied the opportunity to safely and freely explore his sexuality. It is indeed under this distress that Black boys turn blue.

Chiron is a same-gender loving man. “Same-gender loving” (SGL) was first coined by Dr. Cleo Manago to describe African Americans with same gender attractions1. It encompasses African Americans who experience exclusively homosexual or bisexual attractions and sexual interactions. Same-gender loving has been used to redefine the terms gay, lesbian, and bisexual. In doing this, Manago challenges the assumed link between sexual minority identities and the stereotypes that accompany them.


Masculinity and SGL

Pascoe (2003), in his study of heterosexual masculinity, called for greater examination of the complex ways that young men negotiate masculinity, rather than discussion of how to categorize the types of masculinity (e.g., jock, player, effeminate). According to various scholars2,3, in traditional masculine ideology, men exemplify certain characteristics and behaviors:

  • Men are aggressive and physically strong
  • Men are self-reliant and responsible heads of the household
  • Men are emotionally restricted
  • Men have non-relational attitudes towards sex
  • Men avoid femininity, which includes concealing their emotions
  • Men view heterosexuality as the normative sexual orientation
  • Men aspire to success and achievement

According to Levant and Majors (1997), African American men embrace traditional masculine ideology to a greater extent compared to other ethnic groups in the United States. Therefore, the heterosexism – negative attitudes toward homosexuality and gender non-conforming expression – pervades the African American community. A recent study4 in the Journal of Black Psychology notes that in the Black community, gender norms portrayed in popular music may increase ideals of hegemonic masculinity which is defined to include traits such as competitiveness, emotional restraint, risk taking, dominance, non-relational attitudes toward sexuality.

Research identifies the disdain of homosexuality and avoidance of femininity as beliefs of traditional masculine ideology. This influences the ability of SGL men to meet masculine standards. For some, their identity and gender non-conforming expression contradict traditional masculine ideology. SGL men who don’t conform to traditional masculinity may have their manhood questioned by their ethnic peers. Subsequent persecution may prompt some SGL men to forego exploration of their sexuality and gender expression. Pleck (1995) identified these patterns of persecution and trauma as trauma strain, which negatively affect the psychological well-being of SGL men.

Similarly, being able to perform masculinity successfully can harm the mental health of SGL men. Pleck asserts that the fulfillment of certain male gender role norms can have negative consequences such as being inherently dysfunctional—dysfunction strain. For example, SGL men who internalize traditional masculinity may have a reluctance to express emotions, which may prevent the development of intimate relationships. However, for some SGL men, adhering to traditional masculine norms may serve a protective function. Traditional masculine ideology has helped mold the expectation for how African American men should behave. So, adhering to male gender role norms increases their chances of successfully navigating social environments (e.g., work and school) without persecution.

Additionally, research finds that African American men are more likely to self-identify as bisexual than other ethnic minorities5. Identifying as bisexual may serve a dual protective function for African American SGL men. The identification arguably allows them to validate their same gender attractions, protecting them psychologically, while grounding themselves in their masculinity protects them socially. This further complicates our understanding of how individuals navigate social contexts as a result of their intersecting identities.


Mental Health and SGL Men

The literature often finds that attempts to adhere to traditional masculine ideologies are associated with decreased mental health functioning6,7. Ethnic minorities who identify as SGL frequently experience a sense of never being part of any group, which may leave them at greater risk for isolation, feelings of estrangement, and increased psychological vulnerability8.

In 2013, a meta-analysis of 25 studies5 revealed that the lifetime prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders was at least 1.5 times higher among lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Furthermore, African American men who experienced homophobia from the heterosexual community and their friends reported more negative psychological effects5. Choi and colleagues reported that perceived homophobic disapproval and rejection by an immediate circle of heterosexual friends harmed psychological well-being for sexual minority men of color more than harassment related to sexual orientation.


What Helps with Coping for SGL Men?


  • Engage in healthy personal habits (e.g., eating, exercise).
  • Identify a safe space to discuss your identity and seek supportive relationships.
  • Avoid engaging in risky sexual behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex).
  • Avoid using substances to cope with negative thoughts as it could lead to more negative psychological and health outcomes.

Psychological interventions:

  • According to Greene (1994), individuals learn about negative stereotypes and homophobia before they know they are attracted to the same-sex. Therapy can help explore sexual identity and self-acceptance.
  • Group therapy for SGL men: Group therapy can provide a safe space to explore issues surrounding SLG men’s intersecting identities while fostering solidarity among group members. Here, members can negotiate their identities as African American and same-gender loving men.
  • Therapy goals to overcome internalized homonegativity: Homonegativity has been defined as negative societal attitudes about non-heterosexual attractions, behaviors, and identities that are internalized by homosexuals.10 Homonegative messages can be internalized, causing a decreased sense of self-worth. Therapy can deconstruct internalized homonegativity and expose its origin as the external attitudes of society. SGL men are then able to use their own values to shape their views of themselves and reframe their sexuality as a positive or neutral aspect of their identity rather than a negative one.




1Lassiter, J. (2016). Effective strategies used by African American same gender loving men in promoting health and well-being. In L. D. Follins & J. M. Lassiter (Eds.), Black LGBT Health in the United States: The Intersection of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation (pp. 169-184). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.


2Levant, R. F., Hirsch, L., Celentano, E., Cozza, T., Hill, S., MacEachern, et al. (1992). The male role: An investigation of norms and stereotypes. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 14(3), 325-337.


3Pascoe, C. J. (2003). Multiple masculinities? Teenage boys talk about jocks and gender. American Behavioral Scientist46(10), 1423-1438.


4Mahalik, J. R., Good, G. E., & Englar-Carlson, M. (2003). Masculinity scripts, presenting concerns, and help seeking: Implications for practice and training. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice34(2), 123-131.


5Levant, R. F., & Majors, R. G. (1997). An investigation into variations in the construction of the male gender role among young African American and European American women and men. Journal of Gender, Culture, and Health, 2(1), 33-43.


6Avery, L. R., Ward, L.M., Moss, L., & Uskup, D. (2017). Tuning gender: Representations of femininity, and masculinity in popular music by Black artists. Journal of Black Psychology, 43(2), 159-191.


7Choi, K. H., Paul, J., Ayala, G., Boylan, R., & Gregorich, S. E. (2013). Experiences of discrimination and their impact on the mental health among African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Latino men who have sex with men. American Journal of Public Health103(5), 868-874.


8Pleck, J. H. (1995). The gender role strain paradigm: An update. In R. F. Levant & W. S. Pollack (Eds.), A new psychology of men (pp. 11-32). New York: Basic Books.


9Wilson, B. D., Harper, G. W., Hidalgo, M. A., Jamil, O. B., Torres, R. S., Fernandez, M. I., & Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions. (2010). Negotiating dominant masculinity ideology: Strategies used by gay, bisexual and questioning male adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 45(1-2), 169-185.


10Greene, B. (1994). Ethnic-minority lesbians and gay men: mental health and treatment issues. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology62(2), 243.



Courtland Douglas earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Louisiana State University. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Art in Psychology at Texas Southern University. His interests include Black masculinity, LGBTQ issues, and mental health.

Erlanger A. Turner, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). Dr. Turner’s research focuses on access to child mental health services, health inequity, help-seeking attitudes and behaviors, and cultural competency in clinical practice. He is the Director of the UHD Race, Culture, and Mental Health Research Lab and is also a blogger for The Race to Good Health. Dr. Turner has served in numerous leadership positions throughout APA and APA Divisions. He currently serves as Chair of the APA Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (2017-2018) and as a member of the Behavioral Health National Project Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association of Black Psychologists.

Image source: iStockPhoto.com

Filed under: Children and Youth, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, LGBT Issues, Men and Masculinity Tagged: african american, African American men, bisexuality, boys and men, gender norms, gender roles, homophobia, homosexuality, identity, identity development, masculine ideology, masculine norms, masculinity, same gender loving men

Why HIV Providers Should Care About the Orlando Shooting


By David J. Martin, PhD, ABPP (Senior Director, APA Office on AIDS)

In the aftermath of the mass shooting of LGBT people in an Orlando nightclub on June 12, 2016, there was a great deal of discussion concerning the shooter’s motives. Was it a hate crime? An act of terrorism? Members and allies of the LGBT community have come together to express their support for the victims and to denounce violence against LGBT people.

Although the solid links between the LGBT community and the HIV prevention and treatment communities resulted in a strong show of solidarity, there is another reason HIV care providers and educators should be concerned about the shooting and its aftermath: It is an instance of the stigma that can increase the risk of HIV transmission and reduce the ability of people with HIV to fight their disease.

Although most LGBT community members demonstrate resilience in the face of these psychosocial factors, they do take a toll. These factors have been associated with poor mental health (increased depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicide ideation/attempt), diminished self-esteem, and drug and alcohol use/misuse.  

Just as important, they can increase the risk of HIV transmission in the LGBT community. And for those living with HIV, they may diminish the body’s ability to fight HIV beyond the damage done by the virus itself:

  • In an early study, Steve Cole and his colleagues reported that gay men with HIV who concealed their sexual orientation demonstrated faster disease progression than gay men with HIV who did not conceal their sexuality.
  • In a later study, Dr. Cole and his colleagues reported that gay men with high levels of autonomic nervous system activity (ANS: a measure of stress) experienced impaired response to anti-HIV medication—their viral loads prior to starting anti-HIV medication did not drop nearly as much as those with low ANS levels.
  • In 2003, Ron Stall and his colleagues reported on the impact of psychosocial health problems (polydrug use, depression, childhood sexual abuse) on high-risk sexual behavior among gay men; they found that the more of these health problems gay men had, the higher their sexual risk. Similarly, in 2007, Brian Mustanski and his colleagues demonstrated the role of psychosocial health problems (binge drinking, street drug use, regular marijuana use, psychological distress, sexual assault, partner violence) in increasing high-risk sex, and in 2012, Ann O’Leary and her colleagues also reported similar findings. They suggested that the overall constellation of findings suggests that “cumulative adverse psychosocial health conditions of any sort seem to exert their negative effects on HIV risk and infection.” Dr. O’Leary and her colleagues also found that optimism and education lessened (but did not eliminate) these effects.

The Orlando mass shooting is another manifestation of the multiple psychosocial insults that still confront the LGBT community. The recent findings cited here (and others) suggest that, in addition to their impact on the mental health of the LGBT community, these insults contribute to increased risk for HIV and diminished physical health among people with HIV.  For these reasons, HIV providers need to continue partnering with their LGBT allies in confronting anti-LGBT bias and discrimination.

You can visit the American Psychological Association’s Office on AIDS website for information on psychology and HIV.  While there, you can also read the Resolution Opposing HIV Criminalization recently passed by the APA Council of Representatives. The Psychology and AIDS Exchange is a topical newsletter on emerging HIV-related issues.

Image source: Flickr user Ashley Van Haeften via Creative Commons

Filed under: AIDS, LGBT Issues Tagged: aids, discrimination, HIV, hiv prevention, HIV risk, HIV/AIDS research, homophobia, LGBT, Orlando shootings, prejudice, stigma

100+ Resources for the Aftermath of the Orlando Mass Shooting Tragedy


By Skyler Jackson, MS (Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park)

On June 12, 2016 rapid gunfire tore through Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub in an act of violence that jarred the nation—and garnered global attention.

Many were shaken to the core by what we now understand to be the largest mass shooting by a single shooter—and the deadliest incident of violence targeting LGBTQ people—in U.S. history. The numbers alone are staggering: At the time of this blog post, 49 deaths have been confirmed and an additional 53 people were injured during the gunman’s attack at the gay club’s popular Latin night. The facts that have come to light since the event have added chilling detail to our understanding of this tragic event.

When single events of this magnitude occur, we react in a multitude of ways. Many found themselves engulfed in difficult feelings (e.g., panic, anger, grief, fear), and a subsection of these individuals are still emotionally overwhelmed. Others immediately gravitated towards information gathering, fervently consuming the facts of this event. Indeed, in the aftermath of the seemingly incomprehensible, we often find ourselves on a burning quest for clarity and understanding. Another group still was immediately primed for action—ready to reform existing legislation, eager to combat homophobia and toxic masculinity, determined to work to reduce violence and improve human relations. Some simply felt numb, lost, and paralyzed.

Behind these responses are unspoken questions: How could this happen? What can I do? How can I cope? Where do we go from here? No one perspective and no single resource can address each of these inquiries. Fortunately, in the time since the attack, a number of online resources, articles, and videos—some old, and many new—have circulated in relation to the event and its aftermath.

Below is a compilation of over 100 online resources related to the Orlando, FL tragedy. The list is categorized by theme or intended audience, and includes online articles, lesson plans, videos, mental health resources, open letters, tips for clinicians, petitions, hotlines, and more.

The online resources and articles included were selected with great leniency. With the exception of pieces that spread misinformation or prejudice, few articles were intentionally excluded from this curated list. Thus, the 100+ items included vary greatly in quality, tone, and perspective. That said, the list is not comprehensive. It may, however, serve as an organized starting point in our quest for self-reflection, community healing, and ultimately, social change in the aftermath of this devastating event.


  1. How to Cope after a Mass Shooting (English & Español)
  2. Responding to the Tragedy in Orlando: Helpful Responses for LGBTQ People and Allies
  3. 10 Ways to Support Yourself and the LGBTQ Community in Wake of the Orlando Shooting
  4. Recovering Emotionally from Disaster
  5. Incidents on Mass Violence – SAMHSA
  6. 11 Small Ways to Feel Less Helpless this Week, from a Trained Therapist
  7. The Behavioral Health Response to Mass Violence (Webinar)
  8. Disaster and Trauma Effects on Parents (PDF)
  9. In the Wake of the Orlando Massacre: 7 Ways I Take Care of Myself During Depressive Episodes
  10. 13 Soothing Books to Read When Everything Hurts (Intersectional Focus)
  11. Tips to Support Individual and Community Healing
  12. 4 Self-Care Tips After the Pulse Tragedy


  1. Nationwide Vigils, Victim Fund Page, and More (English & Español)
  2. Support Victims of the Pulse Shooting
  3. APA Disaster Resource Network
  4. How to Help Orlando Shooting Victims
  5. Practical Things Psychology Graduate Students Can Do
  6. Donate to the Orlando Youth Alliance (GLBTQ youth serving non-profit)
  7. Love Is Love – LGBTQ KidLit Book Donation Drive for the Orlando Youth Alliance
  8. Muslims United for Victims of the Pulse Shooting
  9. Preventing Gun Violence in 5 Steps
  10. Tell Congress: Support Common Sense Measures to Reduce Gun Violence (APA Action Alert) 


  1. 8 Ways Allies Can Show Up For the Queer Community After Orlando
  2. How to Talk to a Queer Person Who is Afraid of Dying
  3. An Open Letter to Straight People on the Pulse Massacre
  4. Rejecting Islamophobia as a Queer Latina in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting
  5. 7 Things Straight People Aren’t Understanding about Orlando
  6. Can We Stop Erasing Latinos from the Orlando Massacre Narrative?
  7. Learning How to be a Straight Ally after the Orlando Tragedy
  8. Mourning on Ramadan: Breaking My Fast With Queer Muslims After the Orlando Shooting
  9. Being an Ally in the Wake of Orlando
  10. Dalai Lama Warns Against Scapegoating Muslims After Orlando Shooting
  11. To My Heterosexual Friends: This Is Why Orlando Hurts
  12. Gay Rabbi: We Can All Mourn Orlando, But This Was Terrorism Against Gay People
  13. 26 Things Queer People Actually Want to Hear after Orlando
  14. In Whitewashing the Pulse Shooting, We Dehumanize the Victims


  1. Disaster and Trauma Responses of Children (PDF)
  2. Helping Your Child Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting
  3. The #Orlando Syllabus (College-level curriculum)
  4. Addressing the Orlando Shooting at Your School
  5. Creating Safe and Welcoming Schools for All Children & Families
  6. 7 Ways to Talk to Children and Youth about the Shootings in Orlando
  7. Teaching and Learning Resources – The Attack in Orlando: The Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History
  8. 10 Suggestions when Teaching about Controversial or Difficult Issues
  9. How to Talk to Children about Difficult News and Tragedies
  10. GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit: Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students
  11. Safe Learning Environments For LGBTQ Students In A Post-Orlando America
  12. The Orlando Shootings: Parents’ Guide to Talking to Children (PDF)
  13. Classroom Lesson – Orlando Shooting: A Listening Circle
  14. Best Practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate
  15. How Should Parents Talk to LGBTQ Youth About Orlando?
  16. How Teachers and Parents Can Talk to Kids about the Orlando Shootings


  1. Effects of Traumatic Stress after Mass Violence, Terror, or Disaster
  2. Vicarious Trauma (PDF)
  3. Disaster and Trauma Responses of Children (PDF)
  4. LGBTQ Youth Related Resources on Trauma and Coping
  5. Creating Welcoming & Inclusive Environments for Traumatized LGBTQ Youth (Video)
  6. Mental Health Reactions after Disaster: A Fact Sheet for Providers (PDF)
  7. LGBT Veteran Care Post-Orlando (PDF)
  8. Secondary Traumatic Stress: A Fact Sheet for Child-Serving Professionals (PDF)


  1. America’s Gun Problem Explained in 18 Charts
  2. Gun Violence Prevention
  3. Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy – APA Panel of Experts Report
  4. Gun Violence and the Psychological Response to Mass Violence (PDF)


  1. Latinx LGBTQ Community & Its Stories of Survival Should Be at Center of Orlando Response
  2. American Ugliness: Queer and Trans People of Color Say “Not In Our Names”
  3. White Queers, This Is a Betrayal
  4. The Pulse Nightclub Shooting Robbed the Queer Latinx Community of a Sanctuary
  5. Queer Latinx: Tired of Being Targets
  6. It’s Not Safe to be a Queer Person of Color in America
  7. Responses – Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement (Video)
  8. It’s OK to Let Vulnerability Sink In
  9. Do Not Militarize Our Mourning: Orlando and the Ongoing Tragedy Against LGBTSTGNC POC
  10. Statement from the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity
  11. What Queer Latinos are Saying about the Orlando Shooting
  12. From Charleston to Orlando: Reflections on Massacre in a Time of Backlash
  13. Queer, Muslim and Unwelcome at the “New Stonewall”
  14. Whitewashing the Orlando Shooting Victims Only Makes LGBTQ People of Color More Vulnerable to Violence
  15. Here is What LGBT Muslims Want You to Know after the Orlando Shooting
  16. To My Fellow QTPOC Mourning the Orlando Pulse Shooting: We Need to Love Each Other
  17. Only When I’m Dancing Can I Feel This Free
  18. In Honor of Our Dead: Latinx, Queer, Trans, Muslim, Black – We Will Be Free | En Honor a Nuestros Muertos: Latinx, Queer, Trans, Musulmanes, Negros – Seremos Libres
  19. “They Are Our Dead”: LGBTQ Latinos Speak Out After Orlando
  20. LGBT People of Color Refuse to be Erased after Orlando: ‘We Have to Elbow In’
  21. In Praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club
  22. Queer Muslims Confront Intersectional Challenges (Video)
  23. LGBT Clubs Let Us Embrace Queer Latinidad, Let’s Affirm This
  24. How are Latinx and LGBT Leaders Mobilizing in the Wake of Orlando Shootings
  25. Among the Orlando Shooting Victims, Trans Latino Advocates Hope Their Stories are Told
  26. The Time Two White Gay Men Heckled a Latina at a Pulse Vigil
  27. Stuck in the Media Spotlight, LGBT Muslims Often Feel Exploited
  28. #SomosOrlando: Latinx LGBTQ+ being Ignored while Simultaneously Killed
  29. Orlando’s Gay Latino Community Describes Pulse Nightclub in Their Own Words
  30. Joint Statement on the Orlando Mass Shooting – National Latina/o Psychological Association & Orgullo (PDF)
  31. Orgullo Statement on the Orlando Mass Shooting (PDF)
  32. LGBT People of Color Alienated by San Francisco Pride’s Plan for More Police
  33. Meet the Gay Muslims Coming Out After the Orlando Massacre
  34. Recognizing the Intersection of Identities in Orlando Mass Shooting
  35. What Queer Muslims are Saying about the Orlando Shooting
  36. Orlando’s Intersections: May Our Differences Stretch Us to Revolutionary Love
  37. LGBTQ Latinxs and Allies Share Heartfelt Messages in Honor of Orlando Shooting Victims


  • DeQH – Desi LGBTQ Helpline for South Asians (Thursdays & Sundays, 8-10pm EST): 908-367-3374
  • GLBT National Hotline: 888-843-4564
  • GLBT National Youth Talkline (up to age 25): 800-246-7743
  • LGBTQ Violence Response Hotline (24 hours everyday): 202-888-7222
  • Muslim Youth Hotline (Monday-Friday, 6-9pm): 1-866-Naseeha
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (24 hours everyday; English & Spanish): 212-714-1141
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – English (24 hours everyday): 800-273-8255
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Spanish (24 hours everyday): 888-628-9454
  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (Interpretation service for over 150 languages): 800-985-5990
  • SAMSHA Disaster Distress Helpline (Hard of hearing and deaf community): 800-846-8517
  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Text Support (English & Spanish): Text TalkWithUs or Hablanos to 66746
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860 (USA); 877-330-6366 (Canada)
  • Trevor Lifeline (National 24-hour suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth): 866-488-7386



Skyler Jackson, MS, is a diversity consultant and psychologist in training, currently completing his doctoral studies in Counseling Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a scholar, Skyler’s research helps illuminate ways in which contemporary forms of social stigma (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia) not only have economic, educational, moral, and political implications, but are also important matters of public health. As a diversity consultant, Skyler’s training and facilitation helps to spark personal and community transformation by empowering people to dialogue about issues of identity and difference. He currently resides in Washington DC.

Contact: [email protected]

Blog Administrator Note:

Posts by guest authors reflect the views and perspectives of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the American Psychological Association.




Filed under: LGBT Issues, Violence Tagged: discrimination, gun violence, hate crime, homophobia, LGBT, Orlando shootings, prejudice, transphobia

Responding to the Tragedy in Orlando: Helpful Responses for LGBTQ People and Allies


By Glenda Russell, PhD

What took place in Orlando on the morning of June 12, 2016 was a hate crime and an act of terror. In one sense, hate crimes are always acts of terror: Hate crimes victimize not only the individual or individuals who were directly impacted but also the communities of which those individuals are members. Feeling a certain level of confusion is a frequent part of being in a community that has been impacted by a hate crime. It is critical that we call the event what it is: a hate crime. Having strong reactions to such events makes sense. These reactions are not pathological, and it is likely that many other people share them.

What we feel is not about a personal weakness; this is about a community and political experience that may be felt on a deeply personal level. It is a collective experience, and collective problems are best solved through collective means. This event, despite its horror, will not stop the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights. It is important for us to keep that in mind and to call upon the strengths we have built as a community as we move forward. Here is what we know can help based on over two decades of research.


Helpful Responses for LGBTQ People


1. Cultivate a “movement perspective.”

This horrible moment is part of what sometimes happens when people insist on their rights. We are part of a community that extends across time and place, in this nation and beyond. We are also connected to other movements for equality. We must keep this in mind and resist the temptation to see one person in another stigmatized group (the shooter) as representing all members of that group (Muslims, people of color, etc.). We all benefit from seeing the broader movement for equality as a struggle we all share.

It does not mean the movement is ending or even in trouble. The event in Orlando is part of a bigger backlash. The movement will go forward despite such events, though that may not feel possible now.

We have the power to make that happen. It requires us to work, but is there any more important thing to do with our energies?


2. Do something.
  • Active coping is virtually always better than doing nothing.
  • Read a book on queer history.
  • Think of 10 good things about being LGBTQ.
  • Express your sadness, anger, and fear or whatever you’re feeling.
  • Get your friends together to talk about this event.
  • Resist the temptation to reduce the Orlando tragedy to a matter of mental illness. Research shows that people with diagnosed mental illnesses are no more likely to commit violent acts than people without such diagnoses.
  • Send money to your local LGBTQ community center.
  • Volunteer with a community organization.
  • Attend a Pride parade in your city.
  • Go to a queer chorus concert.


3. Pay attention to your allies.

When danger is afoot, it is tempting to focus exclusively on possible sources of danger. While it is important to be as safe as possible, it is also important to focus on who your allies are. Movements rarely make progress solely through the efforts of people who are the targets of oppression. We need allies. Pay at least as much attention to our allies as you do to the people who are against us. Tell your straight and cis friends what you would like them to do. Hold yourself accountable for being an ally to oppressed groups of which you are not a member—including Muslims. This helps you to be aware of your privilege—which, in Suzanne Pharr’s words—you can “spend well.” You’ll feel less powerless, and you can create positive change in the world.


4. Watch for the negative messages about our community that may float around.
  • Actively resist such messages.
  • Learn the truth about who we are.
  • Read some LGBTQ history to remind yourself of what an amazing movement we have.
  • Read about LGBTQ elders and what they have accomplished.
  • Take note of the remarkable strength, courage, and creativity of so many LGBTQ youths.
  • Remember and heed the words of the great South African freedom fighter, Steven Biko, who said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
5. Find and make use of your LGBT and allied community. 
  • Go where you feel safe. Play when you feel like it.
  • You’ll be contributing to the community even as you get good things from the community.
  • Support community events.
  • Use the Orlando tragedy as a way to re-energize yourself and your local community.
  • Have hot sex, and play safe.
  • Look at everything you have gained from the LGBTQ community, and dare to pass it on to others.
  • Do the usual things that help people, especially in times of crisis.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat well.
  • Be careful what you put into your body.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Pay attention to the temptation to isolate.
If You Are a Mental Health Professional:
  •  Share your knowledge and skills with others.
  • Help our communities to know the truth about our lives.
  • Be willing to talk with your clients about their reactions to Orlando.
  • Teach your students about privilege and oppression.
  • Show others that being LGBT or Q is a gift.



Glenda Russell, PhD is a licensed psychologist who works at  Ethnography & Evaluation Research at the University of Colorado Boulder; she also teaches adjunctively there. She has conducted research about the consequences of stigma for more than two decades. Among other publications is Voted Out: The Psychological Consequences of Anti-gay Politics. She works as a consulting partner with  the North Star Project.

The original version of this article was featured on Dr. Glenda Russell’s website: http://drglendarussell.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Responding-to-Orlando.pdf



Filed under: LGBT Issues, Violence Tagged: hate, hate crime, healing, homophobia, LGBT, Orlando shootings, self-care, terrorism, trauma

7 Ways to Talk to Children and Youth about the Shootings in Orlando


By Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Once again our nation is coping with a violent tragedy.  In the aftermath of the Orlando terrorist attack, we find ourselves distressed, grief-stricken, and even angry that such a horrible thing could happen.  Children and teens may find the event even more challenging.  Here are some suggestions on talking with your children about what happened.

  1. Engage in age-appropriate honest discussions

Children and teens may have watched news coverage of the event and its aftermath and/or heard adults around them talking about the shooting. To best help youth, let them know that talking about it is a good thing. You can help by starting the conversation with your children. It may start with, “As you know, there was a terrible shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, FL. Many people were killed or injured. I want to talk to you about this and answer any questions or worries you may have.” Be honest in your discussion, but the gruesome details are unnecessary to share.

Keep the conversation at a level that the child or teen can understand. In other words, what you may say to an 8 year old may be very different than the language you may use with a 16 year old. Remember, your frank discussion, while difficult, will help separate fact from fiction and clear up any misinformation or misunderstanding. Children will “fill in the gaps” with ideas that may be far more frightening than the reality. Because of this, try to be mindful of your adult conversations about the attack as, again, children may not fully understand what they hear.

  1. Monitor social media and television exposure

Young children should not watch this at all. Older children and teens may have some exposure, but it is important that we discuss what they are seeing or hearing with them. With teens, we can often ask, “what have your friends been posting or saying about the attack in Orlando?” This may open the door for further conversation. Remember, as adults, we also need to take a break from coverage. We are also vulnerable to stress reactions, including worries and anxieties.

  1. Promote human values  

Because this attack happened at a gay nightclub, there may be questions about the attack’s location. It is important to let children and teens know that no one deserves any act of violence for their sexual orientation, gender identity or, for that matter, race, religion, culture, or other beliefs.  We live in a time when fear-mongering and hate speech directed at anyone who is different are heightened in our country. It is important to share with children and teens the values and beliefs we want them to develop as we help to shape their world view. For parents and other important adults in the lives of LGBTQ youth, it is essential that we provide extra support and understanding as this tragedy unfolds. Unfortunately, hate speech may occur and we need to remind our children and teens in the LGBTQ community that they are not alone.

General resources for LGBT youth and their parents include resources from the Family Acceptance Project, which works to prevent health and mental health risks for LGBT children and youth, and “What Does Gay Mean?” – a brochure to improve understanding and respect for LGBT youth, available from Mental Health America for a minimal cost.  The Public Interest blog will explore needs of LGBTQ youth in a future post. We also must not overlook the fact that Muslim youth may be the targets of Islamophobic attacks in the aftermath of this terrorist attack. They will also need compassion and support in the days and weeks ahead. Encourage children in both of these groups to seek out a trusted adult to share their questions, concerns, and worries as they may experience the event in a more personal way than others.

  1. Recognize safety and security

Concerns related to safety and security are often paramount after tragedies. Talk to children and teens about the heroic response from law enforcement and ongoing steps being taken. Share with youth that communities across the U.S. have plans to help keep residents as safe as possible before, during, and after any disaster or terrorist attack. This is an opportunity to discuss family plans for safety. For all children and youth, providing an extra dose of patience, attention, and love will help everyone during this time.

  1. Anticipate possible stress reactions

In the aftermath of tragic events, particularly terrorist events, you may see reactions to stress and trauma in your children. These may include difficulty sleeping and changes in appetite. Encouraging proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep is helpful. There may also be problems with attention and concentration. For many children and especially teens, there may be an increase in irritability and mood swings (above what we would expect). Children and youth may think about this event, even when they don’t want to. Keep the lines of communication open and check back in with them often in the days and weeks ahead.

  1. Accept possible reminders of suffering or loss

Traumas such as this recent shooting may bring up personal suffering or losses, whether or not the loss was the result of violence. Help children and teens remember how they have successfully coped with past hardships and encourage them to use similar strategies now. Grief and loss are unique for each of us and children and teens are no different. These emotions follow no timetable. Building and maintaining a strong social support system is paramount to the healing process. Besides family and friends, support systems may also include faith and culture-based organizations.

  1. Foster hope

The aftermath of the Orlando terrorist attack also reminds us of the goodness in people. As we watched thousands respond to the call for blood donations, we witnessed the desire to help, the wish to say, “we stand together; we are united; we will persevere.” Children and teens may wish to find a way to help. Consider making a donation to the American Red Cross or similar organizations from monies they have earned.  A handwritten note to responders in Orlando, as well as in your own community for the work they do every day, can be another positive contribution.

Consider age-appropriate ways for your children to volunteer in your community, your neighborhood, and in your cultural or faith-based organizations to help others. These and myriad other acts of kindness remind us that while these acts of terrorism seek to threaten and cower us, the effect may be the opposite. These acts bring out our strengths and assure us that we will support each other today and into the future.

Distressing reactions to this tragedy will likely lessen over time. If they persist or interfere with day-to-day functioning, a psychologist can help you develop a strategy to move forward.  Go to APA’s Psychologist Locator or reach out to your state psychological association for resources in your area.

For further tips on talking to your kids during tragedy, check out these resources:

And for your own self-care in these difficult times, check out:



Dr. Robin Gurwitch has been involved in understanding the impact of terrorism and disasters on children since the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, providing direct service, training, and conducting research. She is a member of the APA Disaster Resource Network, American Red Cross, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Dr. Gurwitch was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

Filed under: Children and Youth, Violence Tagged: Children, children's mental health, gun violence, hate crime, homophobia, islamophobia, LGBT, LGBT Pride Month, LGBT youth, Muslim youth, Orlando shootings, parenting, stress, teenagers, teens, terrorism, trauma

What Do We Need to Know About the Health of Older LGBT Adults? NIH Greenlights New Research

Gay Marriages NYC

By Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD (Director for Research and Evaluation at ACRIA, Center on HIV and Aging )

When we talk about fully including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in society, marriage equality and broader civil rights protections dominate our discourse. However, equally important are the numerous health disparities they experience in later life compared to heterosexuals. Older LGBT adults are not a small population. In 2015, the U.S. Administration for Community Living estimated that there were 1.8 to 4.0 million LGBT adults age 60 and older. A number that will grow to 7 million by 2030.

Healthy People 2020, a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM, 2011) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), identified addressing the health status of LGBT individuals, including older adults, as a priority. Healthy People 2020 and the IOM both note that the lack of representative, population-based data to inform policy and programs targeted at older LGBT adults hampers this goal. Most available evidence derives from studies using convenience samples, so the true extent of health disparities among this community is unknown.

With this caveat in mind, here is what existing research tells us about health disparities among older LGBT adults compared to heterosexuals:

  • Older gay and bisexual men and transgender women are disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for the majority of people over age 50 with HIV/AIDS (CDC, 2013)
  • Higher rates of tobacco use, disability and poorer self-reported health are reported by older LGBT individuals (Fredriksen-Goldsen et al., 2011; Wallace et al., 2011)
  • There are higher obesity rates for older lesbian and bisexual women (Fredriksen-Goldsen et al., 2011)
  • Older LGBT adults report increased levels of depressive symptoms, alcohol consumption, and use of other substances (Fredriksen-Goldsen et al., 2011)

To address this knowledge gap, the National Institute on Aging, part of NIH, approved funding to Dr. Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen at the University of Washington in 2015 to study health disparities in older LGBT adults. Her multiyear study is entitled, “Older Adults in Vulnerable Communities: Health and Quality of Life Over Time.”

This research builds and extends upon Fredriksen-Goldsen’s earlier seminal study, “Caring and Aging with Pride (CAP)” (2011), one of the first large-scale studies of older LGBT aging and health. Incorporating 2,000 individuals from the CAP study, the new effort will follow 4,550 LGBT adults age 50 and older. [Disclaimer: I was/am a research participant in both of these studies].

Fredriksen-Goldsen’s study will also examine barriers to health care in the special context of LGBT aging. It is understandable that after facing a lifetime of discrimination and marginalization that many LGBT older adults distrust the mainstream institutions and service providers that most heterosexual older adults count on as resources for growing older. The vital data that Fredriksen-Goldsen and colleagues produce will be an important tool for reducing health disparities in older LGBT adults, by helping them to lead fuller and healthier lives and achieve greater equality in our society.




Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., Kim, H. J., Emlet, C. A., Muraco, A., & Erosheva, E. (2011). The aging and health report: Disparities and resilience among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults. Seattle: Institutional for Multigenerational Health.


Wallace, S. P., Cochran, S. D., Durazo, E. M., & Ford, C. L. (2011). The health of aging lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in California. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.




Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD is the Director for Research and Evaluation at ACRIA, Center on HIV and Aging and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the New York University College of Nursing. He is the 2016 Chair of the APA Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

For more on this topic, check out APA’s resource page on LGBT Aging.

Image source: Flickr user Jose Antonio Navas via Creative Commons

Filed under: Aging, LGBT Issues, Public Policy Tagged: discrimination, gay, health disparities, health policy, healthy aging, homophobia, lesbian, LGBT, LGBT health, prejudice, transgender, transgender older adults, transphobia