Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Gender & Sexual Diversity: Why ALL Social Scientists Should be Conducting Inclusive Research

Written by:  J. Stewart, North Carolina State University, member of the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

lgbtq-2495947_1920Did you know that the current administration recently eliminated a proposal to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2020 U.S. census survey? You may or may not realize that doing so poses potentially serious threats to the rights of many Americans through this powerful form of erasure. Without this data, we will continue to have only rough estimates of the number of LGBTQ+ people living in the U.S.

As stigma surrounding sexual minority identities has lessened over the last few decades, many psychologists and social scientists across specialties are increasingly encountering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) participants in research conducted in general populations. As researchers who strive to maintain a certain neutrality when collecting and interpreting data, the degree to which we can actively further an equal rights agenda in conducting the research is limited. However, through the small, yet impactful act of prioritizing inclusivity in research practices, social scientists can help to challenge systems of oppression while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the science.

By merely (yet accurately) recognizing the diversity that exists with regard to people’s sexualities, we can both affirm the identities of people of those experiences and signal to all participants that such experiences are present and valid. This can be accomplished, for example, through the use of inclusive language in surveys and offering more options than just the typical “male/female” and “straight/gay/lesbian” for possible answers to demographic questions. When phrasing questions in binary terms or restricting demographic responses, researchers may inadvertently oppress gender and sexual minority individuals by reinforcing binary conceptions of gender and imposing limited characterizations of sexual orientation.

Dismantling these systems calls for a paradigm shift within every social sphere—including scientific research. Consider the ways in which social science informs public policy. If we do not produce research that reflects the diversity that we know exists in our society, the public institutions that draw upon that research will continue to marginalize that diversity. Given the historical role science has played in oppression, we have an ethical imperative to do better.

Here are ten things that you can do to integrate inclusive research practices into your next study:

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On the Pulse massacre: Who is left out of the current discourse?

Pulse2Photo by PeskyMonkey / iStock.

This blog post is a joint collaboration between: Minnah W. Farook, APAGS member and Student Affiliate Member of Divisions 17, 45, 35, 29, 52, and 56 and Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Candidate, Roberto L. Abreu, Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Candidate and Co-chair of the  National Latina/o Psychological Association Orgullo Latinx: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity SIG  and Division 45 Student Committee Co-liaison, and James J. García, Clinical Health Psychology Ph.D. Candidate and Past Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (APAGS-CARED).

Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog represent the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of APA, APAGS, NLPA, or any other divisions of the APA.

A year ago we mourned the loss of 49 LGBTQ+ victims (58 wounded) during the Pulse nightclub massacre, most (90%) of whom were of Latinx and Puerto Rican heritage.  Since then, the LGBTQ+ community, especially queer Latinx and people of color (PoC), have struggled to heal while fostering resilience and finding ways to work through fear and hypervigilance.  Needless to say, both the Latinx and LGBTQ+ community at large have, and will continue, to mourn.  Additionally, there have been repeated attempts by conservative politicians to co-opt this traumatic experience for the LGBTQ+ and Latinx community in order to advance an anti-Muslim agenda.  This has contributed to a sociopolitical narrative that:

  1. Allows the media and politicians to scapegoat the Muslim community by promoting anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies.
  2. Does not recognize the complexity of internalized homophobia and heterosexism, mental health issues, and gun control legislation that may be factors in the Pulse attack.

On June 10, 2017, ACT for America, a group that has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, organized a “March Against Sharia” in 20 states and 28 cities across the country.  Although described as defenders of Muslim women and human rights, the founder of the group, Brigitte Gabriel, has equated all Muslims with terrorists, claimed that Muslims cannot be loyal to America, and has spread hate speech to demonize all Muslims.  In close proximity to the march, and timed with the anniversary of the massacre at Pulse nightclub, members of the group took the opportunity to connect their anti-Muslim message with support for LGBTQ rights.  This opportunistic ploy has attracted misinformed LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ allies to these marches and to the thinly veiled anti-Muslim agenda of ACT for America.

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Take the ally challenge!

I am sick of writing posts in the wake of tragedies, and sickened to know that unless something drastically changes, they will continue to happen as they have for so many years. But I also know we can do better; I can do better. Specifically, allies need to do more in the times when there is no system-based tragedy making headlines. Therefore I am taking a 30-day ally challenge and I would love you to join me!

Sometimes trying to be an ally can feel overwhelming because there are so many social justice issues around the world to care about. Sometimes I end up doing nothing because I do not know where to begin, or how to begin. Sometimes I get stuck because I know there are people who dedicate their lives to social justice, whether on a global scale by people like Paul Farmer, or on a local scale, like the founders of the Wisconsin youth organization Proud Theater, and that as much as I would like to be, I am not one of them. It is too easy for daily life to get in the way when there is no crisis to respond to. I realize, of course, that the ability to not engage fully in a topic if it doesn’t fit in my schedule is the result of the many privileged identities I hold, but that does not change the fact that I often end up analyzing data or checking Facebook, rather than really engaging as an ally.

If you are like me, and want to do more to make the world better but are feeling stuck, let’s try this month-long experiment together. I would contend, as others have, that being an ally is a verb rather than an identity label. It is not something someone is, but something someone does, and therefore something we can practice daily in order to improve.

This is my plan of attack to practice becoming a better ally.

Step 1: Choose a topic.

We know that in order to make behavior changes, the goals have to be manageable. There are countless areas of disparity and oppression in the world, but in order to prevent inertia, I will pick one topic to focus on for two weeks – just one! (With the sad exception of responding to crises, like the recent shootings)

Step 2: Pick a time.

Behavior change works best if we can incorporate it into our daily routine. What time works best for you to do your allying? It might take some scheduling trial and error, but I think I’ll try lunchtime…

Step 3: Become an informed ally.

Without knowing about an issue, it is difficult to effectively work for change. Every day I will spend 10 minutes learning about the topic I have chosen. Is this enough time to spend allying? No. It is not even close to enough time to do justice to learning deeply about a topic. However, it is ten minutes more than I am currently spending and therefore a step in the right direction. Specifically, I will seek out perspectives of members of communities affected by the issue, as well as the perspectives of those whose beliefs run counter to my own. It is difficult to create change without dialogue, and difficult to create dialogue without understanding perspectives across the aisle.

Step 4: Take action.

Knowing about the ways in which our system is broken is a start, but allying also requires doing something about it. Each week I will therefore also do some sort of action outside my comfort zone. There are a lot of ways to be an ally in daily life, some of which might not be entirely within my control. For example, it is important to speak up about microaggressions when we see them. We can do things to increase our efficacy speaking up, like learning about how to recognize microaggressions and how to communicate effectively about them. But what if I spend the day doing research in my office and legitimately do not encounter any microaggressions to challenge? The action I take each week has to be something I can initiate that I would not have done otherwise, whether that means attending a solidarity event, volunteering, donating, starting a dialogue, or calling a legislator.

Step 5: Tell your friends.

Behaviors changes are more likely to be maintained when people have social support for making the change. Share what you’re doing and what you’ve learned with your friends and family. Spread the word. Create a network of people practicing allying.

Step 6: Do it again the next month!

In this way at the end of one month I will know more about two topics and have taken four small actions related to them. If I keep it up over a year, that will lead to knowing more about 24 topics with 48 small actions. If I get my friends to join me, who knows how big the ripples may go.

I may not ever be an ally rock star, but I sure can work at becoming a better one than I currently am.  If those of us who hold privileged identities make an effort to be more intentional allies when there is not a national tragedy, not only might that make us better at responding to tragedies when they do happen, but it might also help us start using our power more effectively to prevent them in the first place. We might not be able to solve all broken things all at once, but that shouldn’t stop us from practicing the actions needed to learn about what is broken and be part of the solution. I hope you join me in this allying challenge!

SomosOrlando

#SomosOrlando: Latinx LGBTQ+ being Ignored while Simultaneously Killed

SomosOrlandoThis blog post is a joint collaboration between: James J. García, Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED), Roberto L. Abreu, Co-chair of the National Latina/o Psychological Association Orgullo Latinx: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity SIG and Division 45 Student Committee Co-liaison, & Laura P. Minero, Student Representative of the National Latina/o Psychological Association

Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog represent the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of APA, APAGS or NLPA.

Across the nation, many of our hearts were broken by the massacre of 49 LGBTQ+ individuals and 50+ wounded during Pride Month and “Latino night” at a nightclub in Orlando. As photographs and names of the victims began to pour in, it was undeniable that most of the LGBTQ+ victims (90%) were Latinx, mostly Puerto Rican and other Latinx backgrounds. We also know that some of the victims came from mixed status families or were undocumented themselves. These challenges add further complexity to the grief and trauma they (and their families) historically have, and will continue to, experience on a daily basis.

As reporters in popular news channels struggled to pronounce the last names of the victims, the racial and ethnic identities of the LGBTQ+ victims were ignored. Many reporters refused to utter the letters “LGBTQ;” comments such as “this is an attack on all of us” were used to generalize this issue to all Americans. Although these statements were meant to show support and solidarity, indeed it concerns all Americans, these messages felt invalidating as this attack was directed at LBGTQ+ people, particularly us the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. This points to a larger systemic and historic problem in the United States: the attempt to sanitize, strip away, and demonize Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ bodies from their identities via a system of oppression, power and privilege sustained by White supremacy, heterosexuality and cisgender identities.

Within the sociopolitical context, we are negatively stereotyped by the media as unsuccessful, a group of criminals, foreign born, and only Spanish-speaking. These stereotypes disregard us as a diverse group of people by ignoring the heterogeneity within our communities. The blatant ethnic gloss against us is not new nor is it the result of recent political rhetoric; rather, there is an extensive history of hostility, which perpetuates a failure to acknowledge our intersections as Latinx LGBTQ+. For those of us who identify as Latinx LGBTQ+, we cannot help but feel that we are being ignored while simultaneously being killed.

There are three points of discourse missing from the current media narrative:

  • First, the sorrow of our Latinx LGBTQ+ community is being used to fuel hatred against the Muslim community and marginalize LGBTQ+ Muslims; however, our plights are similar, as we all live in survival mode to exist in a system that has set us up for disadvantage.
  • Second, there is no mentioning of homophobia and heterosexism within the Latina/o community, which pushed us to create our own spaces where we can temporarily break free of the violence, prejudice and discrimination from our own familias.
  • Lastly, the conversations seem to gloss over racism against LGBTQ+ people of color and those who are biracial/multiracial within the LGBTQ+ community.

Dauntingly, what can we do as psychologists-in-training?

Interpersonal level:

Departmental level:

  • Develop, create, and host healing spaces for LGBTQ+ people of color
  • Advocate for a statement/comment from your Department/University
  • Attend Pride and remembrance events as a Department

Societal level:

Living at the intersection of Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ is to expect that you can be discarded at any time without getting the chance to exist in your own skin. To this end, we, as psychologists-in-training, need to continue having these conversations to effect change together and at different levels of our society.

Florida

A Note from your Chair: Orlando Strong

FloridaFriends and colleagues,

I sit with tears in my eyes as I write this. Just over 24 hours after hearing the news of the horrific tragedy in Orlando, I am still in shock, not sure what to say, and unsure of where I can feel safe in our increasingly violent, unpredictable world.

As a woman, an American, a psychologist, and as a lesbian, my heart is completely broken.To the other members of our LGBTQ community I send you love. Let us be strong, yet honest. Let us find joy in the beauty that does live all around us, yet may we always remember. Let us cry and laugh. Let us continue to embrace our differences, and lean into our enemies with love.

To our Muslim brothers and sisters. I am equally sickened by the hate directed toward you following this, and every crime used to vilify you as a people. It is wrong and unfair. You are beautiful, peaceful, and welcome. I send you love and I stand with you.

To our allies. Thank you.

To our psychology community as a whole. Let us stand up. Let us speak out. Let us serve. Let us help. I am reminded of a quote by Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As psychologists we have much to offer this world in terms of healing, social change, and leading by example. Let us be this change together, using each of our unique strengths and psychological knowledge to influence the much needed change in our country and in our world.

To being the change and leading with love,

Christine
APAGS Chair

A few resources:

From CNN: How to help Orlando shooting victims

From APA: Managing Your Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

Recovering Emotionally from a Disaster