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Supporting Our Students (SOS): A multi-component program to increase perceived safety and social support in LGBTQ+ youth in Washington County

1 January 2017


Queer and transgender youth experience significant disparities in mental health outcomes, particularly with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and reported rates of suicidal ideation and completion. This is a direct outcome of the unique social stressors that LGBTQ+ people face due to their minority status. Targeted for LGBTQ+ youth in Washington County high schools, Supporting Our Students (SOS) addresses each stress process of Meyer’s minority stress model that contributes to poor mental health outcomes. To reduce stressful conditions, changing school environments is key. Using lessons learned from previous trainings, SOS will train teachers, primarily focusing on intervention skills. Internalizing negative values can be minimized by increasing social support and connectedness with other queer and transgender youth. Support groups for LGBTQ+ youth have been successful at increasing both of these measures. The program will provide identity-specific support groups for several subgroups of the community, attending to intersecting identities to allow students access to relevant support. Additionally, SOS will coordinate monthly socialization events, facilitating connections among LGBTQ+ students. By training teachers and providing support groups, we anticipate that 80% of queer and transgender students in Washington County high schools will feel safer in their schools and 60% of students that participate in support groups and/or socialization events will have higher perceived social support and connectedness after one year.


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