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Supporting the Well-Being of LGBTQ+ Adolescents and Their Families

Penn Nursing’s Dalmacio Dennis Flores, PhD, ACRN, FAAN, Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health, has been awarded a 2023 grant from the Hillman Innovations in Care (HIC) program. The $600,000 grant will be used to expand a Penn Nursing-led program that supports the well-being of LGBTQ+ adolescents and their families. This grant is awarded by The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation.

At a time when LGBTQ+ youth are challenged by both disproportionately high rates of negative mental health outcomes and an increasingly hostile legislative environment that threatens their access to health services, it is imperative that families are provided with skill sets enabling them to effectively communicate support to their LGBTQ+ children. Many families are unable to benefit from vetted educational resources due to lack of availability, understanding, cultural taboos, and limited, if any, contact with a trusted healthcare provider.

The HIC funding will expand Parents ASSIST (Advancing Supportive and Sexuality Inclusive Sex Talks), a nurse-driven, community- informed, digitally accessible intervention that offers parents the practical knowledge they need to fully support LGBTQ+ children as they navigate adolescence and a turbulent world. By breaking down longstanding silos within LGBTQ+ science (e.g., separate programming for sexual minority vs. gender diverse youth) and recognizing the power that parents have to improve the lives of their LGBTQ+ children, this consolidated intervention is poised to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of all families with LGBTQ+ youth.

“We are thrilled about receiving this grant as it not only stands to create solutions for overlooked parenting concerns, but also because it is a result of our sustained partnerships with diverse stakeholders in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey,” said Flores.

The HIC program, one of the Foundation’s defining initiatives, was created to accelerate the spread of evidence-based interventions that address the health and social needs of communities that experience discrimination, oppression, and indifference. These populations include Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), the economically disadvantaged, LGBTQ+ people, people experiencing homelessness, rural populations, refugees, and others.