The Family Acceptance Project

November 12, 2008 at 2:56 pm  •  Posted in Youth Development by  •  0 Comments

San Francisco State University Awarded $500,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
to Support the “Family Acceptance Project”
for Families of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Youth

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco State University is pleased to announce significant support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and generous local funders to develop the first comprehensive interventions to help families increase acceptance and decrease rejection of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children. RWJF awarded a three-year $499,993 matching grant to SF State’s University Corporation to support the Family Acceptance Project.

Matching funds are being provided by local funding partners including the Tides Foundation/ Out-of-Home Youth Fund, an anonymous fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund, Johnson Family Foundation, Lewy Gay Values Fund at Horizons Foundation, Morris Family Foundation, Mount Zion Health Fund (a supporting fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund), Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund and other donors.

Groundbreaking research conducted by Caitlin Ryan, PhD, Director of the Family Acceptance Project, and her team at the César E. Chávez Institute at SF State shows that families have a dramatic impact on their LGBT children’s health and mental health. Parents’ rejecting behavior—such as excluding their child from family events or ridiculing their sexual orientation or gender identity—increases their child’s risk for serious health and mental health concerns and family acceptance helps protect against risk. LGBT youth are known to be at high risk of suicide, substance abuse and HIV infection and for victimization in home, school and community settings. They are also at high risk for homelessness and for placement in foster care and juvenile probation as a result of family conflict and rejection.

However, Dr. Ryan’s new data indicate that families can change rejecting behavior when they understand how their words and actions affect their LGBT children’s health and well-being. Working in collaboration with Child and Adolescent Services at San Francisco General Hospital and with many community groups including the Adolescent Health Working Group, Chinese for Affirmative Action, GSA Network, and the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, the Family Acceptance Project will develop new evidence-based family interventions and a new model of family-related care for LGBT youth.

This new initiative will work with multi-ethnic families and community groups to develop critical interventions to help ethnically diverse families decrease rejection and increase family support, to strengthen family relationships and to help maintain LGBT youth in their homes. The new interventions are being developed in English, Spanish and Chinese. The Family Acceptance Project will work with pediatricians, nurses, social workers, school counselors, family and peer advocates, child welfare workers and community providers in a wide range of settings to develop a behavioral approach to educate families, decrease rejecting behavior and increase family acceptance of their LGBT children.

“In our work with LGBT youth and families, we’ve seen too many times when providers could have made a critical difference if they only had the tools to help families support their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children,” Dr Ryan noted. “We’ve found that ethnically diverse families are eager for information and advice when they learn that their children are lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender. These funds will help us provide critical services that will make a difference in the lives of LGBT young people and their families in our community and across the country. We’re very grateful to RWJF, the Tides Foundation’s Out-of-Home Youth Fund and our other funding partners for supporting our work.”

The Family Acceptance Project is recruiting native-level Spanish-speaking and Cantonese-speaking social workers and community providers to help develop these urgently needed new interventions. For more information on these positions, contact:

About the Family Acceptance Project

The Family Acceptance Project is a community research, intervention and education initiative that studies the impact of family acceptance and rejection on the health, mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Results are being used to help families provide support for LGBT youth; to improve their health and mental health outcomes; to strengthen families and help maintain LGBT youth in their homes; to develop appropriate interventions, programs and policies; and to train providers to improve the quality of services and care these youth receive. For more information, please visit


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