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Updated LGBTQ+ POC Discrimination Study

Investigators: Kiet D. Huynh, Ph. D., Kimberly Balsam, Ph.D.,  Alexis Garcia, M.S., Kaila Young, M.S., Skyler Jackson, Ph.D., Yamile Molina, Ph.D., and Roberto L. Abreu, Ph.D.

LGBTQ+ people of color (LGBTQ+ POC) continue to experience mental and physical health disparities. To reduce this disparity, it is important to address the various forms of discrimination experienced by people in these communities. The original LGBT People of Color Microaggressions Scale (Balsam et al., 2011) provided a critical tool for measuring these discrimination experiences. This measure has been used widely by researchers in predicting health outcomes for LGBTQ+ POC. However, research studies on this population over the past decade have documented additional forms of discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ POC that were not captured by the original measure. Therefore, the purpose of the current study is to create an updated and extended measure of LGBTQ+ POC discrimination that includes these additional forms of discrimination. The current study is conducted using a mixed-methods approach. We have developed the items for the new measure and received feedback about the items from participants in focus groups. Next, we will empirically test the items using an online survey with a national sample of LGBTQ+ POC. The completed measure is intended to serve as a tool for researchers to better capture discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ POC in order to reduce health disparities for people in these communities.

LGBTQ+ Experiences During COVID-19
Investigators: Kimberly Balsam, Ph.D.,  Ariel Friedman, M.S., Vinisha Rana, M.A., M.S., and Em Matsuno, Ph.D.
The LGBTQ+ Experiences During COVID-19 study is a cross-sectional, mixed-methods online survey of LGBTQ+ adults living in the U.S.  Data were collected online from over 900 individuals during the month of April 2020.  Questions examined psychosocial changes, health and mental health, and LGBTQ+-specific issues and concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Santa Clara County LGBTQ Clinical Academy

Investigators: Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D., Liz McConnell, Ph.D., Predair Robinson, Ph.D., Jayme Peta, Ph.D., Em Matsuno, Ph.D.

The goal of this project is to develop, conduct, and evaluate an in-depth, advanced 40-hour training on LGBTQ+ cultural competence for mental health practitioners in Santa Clara County.  With funding from Santa Clara County and collaboration with the county’s Office of Behavioral Health and Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs, we are developing this unique approach to ensuring that mental health service providers are meeting the unique needs and concerns of diverse LGBTQ+ populations in a culturally responsive and effective manner.  Our evaluation will measure the effects of the training on providers’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ affirmative clinical work.

The Enby Project: Understanding stress and resilience among nonbinary people

Investigators: Em Matsuno, Ph.D., Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D., Nat Bricker, B.A., and Elizabeth Savarese, B.A.

The aim of the Enby Project is to identify the unique types of minority stressors that nonbinary people experience and what helps them manage those stressors, with the ultimate goal of developing and validating the first nonbinary minority stress and resilience scale. Having this assessment tool is crucial in understanding the relationship between minority stressors, resilience factors and mental health outcomes as well as evaluating the impact of interventions on reducing minority stress for nonbinary people. Data has been collected from five focus groups and six individual interviews with over half of participants identifying as a person of color. Thematic analysis is currently underway with the goal of adapting and applying the minority stress model for nonbinary people.

Gender Kaleidoscope Study

Investigators: Arielle Webb, M.S., Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D., Elizabeth Savarese, B.A., Em Matsuno, Ph.D. 

The Gender Kaleidoscope Study examines gender in all of its myriad forms within LGBTQ+ communities, with a special focus on individuals whose gender identity and expression fall outside of the binary.  The study focuses on relationships between  gender identity and expression, sexual identity, relationships, well-being, stressors and resilience among diverse LGBTQ+ people. We collected data from 473 ethnically and racially diverse adults in October/November 2019 and followed up with these participants again in April/May 2020 to examine changes in well-being over time in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resilience and Well-being in LGBTQ Latinx Individuals

Investigators: Itzel Anaya, M.S., Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D.

Gender and sexual minority (GSM) Latinx immigrants experience multiple minority stressors related to their immigration status, racial/ethnic identity, sexual orientation and/or gender identities.  Prior research suggests that these individuals also possess unique strengths that can help them overcome these adverse life experiences. This study recruited GSM Latinx individuals, including bilingual and monolingual Spanish speakers, in order to characterize stressors and resilience factors. A survey of GSM Latinx Californians assessed sexual and gender identities, perceived experiences of discrimination, well-being, mental health outcomes, and bicultural identity integration, as well as differences between monolingual and bilingual GSM Spanish speakers, and first and second-generation GSM Latinx individuals.

Cognitive and Risk Variables Associated with Gender Study

Investigators: Janna Holmes, M.S., Briahna Yuodsnukis, M.S. , Brian Maruyama, & Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D.

This study aims to examine differences in interpersonal behaviors, emotions, and mental performance according to gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Specific measures of well-being, personality traits, impulsivity, anger, aggression, substance use, and cognitive performance are being administered via an online survey of 100 transgender women, 100 transgender men, 100 cisgender women, and 100 cisgender men. Exploring gender differences in a mixed transgender/cisgender sample will inform the development of culturally competent assessment strategies for transgender populations and will highlight both similarities and differences among transgender people and their cisgender counterparts.  Data collection has been completed.

Civil Union Project Longitudinal Enhanced Study (CUPPLES)

Investigators: Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D.,Esther Rothblum, Ph.D., Ellen Riggle, Ph.D., Sherry Rotosky, Ph.D., Ted Beauchaine, Ph.D., Robert Wickham, Ph.D.

Funding Received From: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grant number R01HD069370); The Gill Foundation; The Scrivner Award of the American Psychological Foundation; The Placek Fund of the American Psychological Foundation; The University Committee on Research and Scholarship of the University of Vermont; and The College of Arts and Letters of San Diego State University

History of Project: In 2002, the CUPPLES Project investigators contacted and obtained information from same-sex couples who obtained civil unions in Vermont during that first year, same-sex couples in their friendship circles who did not have civil unions, and their heterosexual married siblings and spouses. The investigators conducted a survey of these three groups focusing on demographic factors, length of relationship, social support from family and friends, contact with families of origin, social and political activities, degree of “outness,” and division of housework, childcare, and finances. Originally called the Vermont Civil Union Project, this was the first study to examine same-sex couples in state-recognized relationships. The “civil union couples” will always be the first “legal” same-sex couples in the U.S. The researchers surveyed many of these same couples and their friends and siblings again in 2005 for a three-year follow up in which they focused on relationship quality and satisfaction.

In 2013-2014 the investigators conducted a third study that reached out to all of the participants from the original 2002 study. The researchers successfully recruited 786 individuals across all three of the original groups to participate in an in-depth survey focusing on many of the original topics as well as health, mental health, and other challenges and strengths that couples and individuals may face. By this time, many of the same-sex couples had gotten married, and some of the same-sex and heterosexual couples had broken up. Additionally, the researchers conducted 56 in-depth interviews with same-sex couples and with individuals who had previously been in same-sex couples that broke up. Interviews focused on the role of legal status in the lives of same-sex couples over the past decade.

We plan to continue to follow this cohort of participants in the future to examine relationships and well-being in the context of a changing society.

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