With this Scholars award, Hammack will examine community-based organizational processes as well as community climate, stress, and mental health among LGBT youth in a three-phase research program. Today, social policies affecting LGBT youth are changing rapidly and we know little about how distinct community contexts influence stigma and stress among youth or how community-based organizations empower youth to work toward more positive community climate. Much of the existing research on LGBT youth was conducted at a time when social policies and community settings were largely hostile toward homosexuality and hence, youth likely had more uniform experiences. With this Scholars award, Hammack will examine community-based organizational processes as well as community climate, stress, and mental health among LGBT youth in a three-phase research program. In the first phase, Hammack will focus on community climate. The second phase will involve community surveys of LGBT youth, assessing minority stress and mental health. The third phase will explore how community- based organizations address stress, stigma, and inequality among LGBT youth. The study will focus on two communities in California, one more positive toward the LGBT community and one hostile. In each community, surveys will be conducted with 300 youth, ages 13–25, and analysis will be conducted with youth and staff at the largest organization that serves LGBT youth. Through this project, Hammack will develop expertise in community climate assessment, community survey design and implementation, and community-based organizational setting analysis. To this end, he will be mentored by Stephen Russell, one of the leading researchers of LGBT youth, and Ilan Meyer, the originator of the minority stress theory and an expert in sampling and surveying LGBT populations.
How do LGBT youth respond to stigma and stress in communities either hostile or supportive of LGBT rights? How do community based organizations attempt to empower youth to work for social change?