SF State News {University Communications}

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Ryan presents findings at International AIDS Conference

August 6, 2008 -- Caitlin Ryan presented pioneering research in a special session of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City today, that demonstrates how family acceptance during adolescence affects the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young adults. The biennial conference is the largest international conference dedicated to a global health issue and is expected to draw 22,000 participants. Ryan's session is one of only 20 special "high level" sessions presented during the six-day gathering that features 200 panel presentations and events each day.

A photo of Caitlin Ryan, initiative director of the Cesar Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University, who presented findings on LGBT youth and family acceptance at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.

Caitlin Ryan, initiative director of the Cesar Chavez Institute at SF State

Ryan's presentation, "Family acceptance: rethinking prevention and care for LGBT youth and young adults," highlighted research Ryan and her community research team have conducted for the Family Acceptance Project at SF State that shows the critical role families play in promoting the well-being of their LGBT children. The panel also provided guidance on how government agencies and community groups should engage families in frontline prevention, community education and care to improve physical and mental health outcomes for LGBT youth.

"We’re working with other countries to create an international movement of family acceptance," said Ryan, who is initiative director at SF State's Cesar E. Chavez Institute. "We see family acceptance as a renewable, low-cost, low-tech approach to both HIV prevention and wellness throughout the world that promotes social justice for a highly stigmatized group."

In addition to the special session, Ryan and her collaborators from other countries have planned multiple events focusing on families with LGBT youth in the International AIDS Conference's Global Village. The Global Village is open to the public and will be a valuable opportunity for the Family Acceptance Project to network across borders.

"This is a chance to reach out and see how our work can be applied in other countries and cultures," Ryan said. "We will be taping LGBT people from around the world talking about their family's acceptance and rejection, and the impact on their lives."

The information gathered in the Global Village in Mexico City will add to the extensive research the Family Acceptance Project has collected since its formation in 2002. The Family Acceptance Project is the only one of its kind to study the effects of acceptance and rejection on the well-being of LGBT adolescents and young adults. This research and follow-up initiatives are developing interventions to increase family support, promote well-being and reduce LGBT young people's risk for physical and mental health problems.

The Family Acceptance Project is developing family education materials in English, Spanish and Chinese to help parents understand the impact of their actions and words on their children's well-being. "Our program is designed to provide a roadmap to help parents and caregivers support their LGBT children," Ryan said. "We also want to give providers tools and resources to support parents and caregivers to improve the health and well-being of LGBT children and adolescents."

For more information on the Family Acceptance Project, visit http://familyproject.sfsu.edu

-- Michael Bruntz


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