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New HIV infections in Phl reached 1,098 in May; highest figure since monitoring started in 1984

There were 1,098 new HIV positive individuals reported to the HIV/ AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines in May 2017, the highest number of HIV infections in the country for a month since monitoring started since 1984. To date, 29 Filipinos now get infected with HIV every day.

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AND IT JUST KEEPS GETTING WORSE.

There were 1,098 new HIV positive individuals reported to the HIV/ AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP) in May 2017, the highest number of HIV infections in the country for a month since monitoring started since 1984. To date, 29 Filipinos now get infected with HIV every day; up from only one HIV infection per day in 2008. Since 2010, however, the number of HIV infections has been rapidly climbing to four every day, nine every day in 2012, 17 every day in 2014, and 26 every day in 2016.

The May 2017 figure is 48% higher as compared with the same reporting period last year, when there were “only” 741 cases reported.

According to Michael David dela Cruz Tan, publishing editor of Outrage Magazine, the only LGBT publication in the Philippines, and which has HIV-related efforts, there are two ways of looking at this.

On the one hand, “we can give this a ‘positive’ spin by saying that more people are getting tested, so now more people know of their HIV status. In a way this is true, and kudos to the efforts of those who’ve been going around to provide much-needed HIV testing,” he said.

But on the other hand, “that people test positive at all is a damning statement of the failure to control the spread of HIV in the Philippines. We went beyond this being a source of worry a long time ago; we should already be panicking.”

Ico Rodulfo Johnson, president of The Red Ribbon Project (TRR), said that “the increased number of HIV cases in the country may be a result of the increased campaign on HIV awareness and testing, as well as the increased number of HIV facilities now accessible to the greater population.”

TRR, for instance, partnered with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) to facilitate community-based screening, thereby reaching populations that well-funded NGOs and even government facilities fail to reach because these are facility-centric.

But Johnson said that “with the monthly increase in the number of Filipinos with HIV, we can assume that we have not reached our target yet. We still have to do more.”

CLOSER LOOK

For May 2017, most (95%) of those who tested HIV positive were male. The median age was 28 years old (age range: 2 years-67 years). More than half were from the 25-34 year age group, while 30% were youth aged 15-24 years.

The reported modes of HIV transmission were: sexual contact (1,068), needle sharing among injecting drug users (IDU) [27] and vertical transmission (formerly known as “mother- to-child transmission”) [3]. Eighty-six percent of infections transmitted through sexual contact were among males who have sex with males (MSM).

From 1984 to 1990, considered the early years of the epidemic, 62% (133 of 216 cases) were female. But from 1991 to present, males comprised 93% (40,890 out of 44,010) of the total number of HIV cases in the Philippines.

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But as per HARP, the absolute number of cases among females has also been increasing. Ninety-two percent (2,796) of all female cases were diagnosed when they were between 15-49 years of age.

According to Outrage Magazine’s Tan: “We’ve long recognized, and even constantly stress, that MSM, the population mostly affected by HIV in the Philippines, are NOT NECESSARILY homosexual or bisexual men. There are MSM who have female partners or are in opposite-sex relationships. And so even if the trend now involves a lot of gay and bi men, sooner or later, this problem will reverberate back to the ‘mainstream’ population to mimic the trend in the early years of the epidemic, including women and their children.”

Unfortunately, said Tan, Outrage Magazine has been made aware instances when women were “literally turned away from getting HIV testing because, as they were told, existing projects prioritize, if not actually only focus on MSM.” There are also sub-populations among women who are still not properly reached by HIV-related efforts – e.g. women in prison (WIP).

For Tan, this also highlights how “HIV is not the issue of only a specific population (e.g. of gay and bi men), but of everyone.”

Those who are getting infected with HIV are also getting younger. From 2001 to 2005, the age range of most people reported to have HIV was 35-49 years. Starting from 2006, the age proportion shifted to 25-34 years. The proportion of HIV positive cases in the 15-24 year age group increased from 25% in 2006-2010 to 29% in 2011-2017.

For May 2017, the regions with the most number of reported cases were: National Capital Region (NCR) with 404 (37%) cases, Region 4A with 155 (14%) cases, Region 3 with 108 (10%) cases, Region 7 with 98 (9%) cases and Region 11 with 60 (5%) cases. An additional 273 cases (25%) came from the rest of the country.

KEY POPULATIONS

Pregnant Women Living with HIV (PWLHIV)

For May 2017, eight pregnant women were diagnosed with HIV. Three of the cases were from NCR, two cases from Region 3, and one case each for Regions 4A, 7 and 9.

It was only in 2011 when pregnant women living with HIV were included in the HARP; and thus say, “the number of reported cases continues to increase yearly,” noted HARP.

Since 2011, a total of 178 pregnant cases were reported. More than half (97) were from the age group 15-24 years old and 39% (69) were from 25-34 years old age group.

Children (<10 years old) and Adolescents (10-19 years old)

In May 2017, 64 adolescents aged 10-19 years were infected with HIV. All of them were infected through sexual contact (eight male-female sex, 40 male-male sex, 16 sex with both males and females). Also, three children aged 10 years and below were reported to be HIV positive and were infected through vertical transmission (nee MTCT).

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Outrage Magazine already earlier reported on the difficulties encountered by those looking after children living with HIV.

Living with HIV at 7 years old

 

Looking after my 14-year-old HIV positive son

Youth (15-24 years old)

In May 2017, 325 (30%) cases were among youth aged 15-24 years and 95% of the cases were male. All (325) were infected through sexual contact (36 male-female sex, 192 male-male sex, 97 sex with both males and females).

From January 1984 to May 2017, 12,065 (27%) of the reported cases were 15-24 years old. Eighty-four percent (10,148) of all the youth were reported from January 2012 to May 2017.

OFW

Eighty-four OFWs were reported in May 2017, comprising 8% of the total newly diagnosed cases. Ninety-five percent (80) were male. All were infected through sexual contact (24 male-female sex, 30 male-male sex, and 30 sex with both males and females). These OFWs were from 19-55 years old, and 49% of those belonged to the 25-34 year age group.

People who engage in transactional sex

In May 2017, 10% (105) of the total reported cases engaged in transactional sex. As defined by HARP, people who engage in transactional sex are those who report that they pay for sex, regularly accept payment for sex, or do both.

Most (92%) of those who engaged in transactional sex were male, with ages ranging from 16 to 60 years.

It was only in December 2012 when HARP included in the registry people who engage in transactional sex, and since then, a total of 3,941 cases have been reported. Ninety-six percent (3,769) were male and 4% (172) were female.

ACCESS TO TREATMENT

Fifteen persons living with HIV were reported by HARP for May 2017, all of them male. Six (40%) of the reported deaths belonged to the 15-24 year age group, seven (46%) cases were from 25-34 year age group, and one (7%) case belonged for age groups 35-49 and 50. All were infected through sexual contact (eight male-male sex, seven sex with both males and females).

Since 1984, a total of 2,156 deaths have been reported, though – obviously – the figure may be higher because of under-reporting.

Even with the efficacy of treatment in preventing deaths among PLHIVs, and even in curbing the spread of HIV since it could lower the viral load to undetectable levels and make those with HIV no longer transmittable (U=U), still only less than half of the Filipinos with HIV are on ART. In May 2017, there were 683 patients who started on ART; but from 1984 to May 2017, only 20,420 Filipinos were on ART, while the total number of Filipinos with HIV already reached 44,010.

Ninety-five percent were on first line regimen, 4% were on second line regimen, and 1% were on other regimen. Only the first two regimens are PhilHealth-funded, thus readily available to Filipinos living with HIV.

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Also, data from HARP does not segregate those who may have been on ART, but already died; or those who started ART but discontinued.

STUCK IN THE MUD?

In a statement released to Outrage Magazine, Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), said that already y, their church members “make efforts in our communities to address sex negativity, patriarchy, homophobia and transphobia that fuel HIV infections.” But “we also call on the government to heed the call for a free, comprehensive and progressive healthcare system.”

For Reyes, “(some) of the effective ways to respond to the global call to end AIDS by 2030 is for the government to allocate at least 5% of the Gross Domestic Product for health in the national budget, stop privatization, address the inequitable distribution of health personnel and resources, and address socio-economic and political factors affecting health.”

For TRR’s Johnson, some of those that need to be done include “stopping the stigma and discrimination related to HIV; creating a curriculum in the educational system for students to know about the disease, and where to get tested or even access treatment; scale up campaigns for condom use; and empower more schools, companies and organizations, and local government units to strengthen their HIV responses.”

For Tan, “numerous issues related to HIV responses have already been highlighted in the past; and yet we ignore them, acting like it’s still business as usual.”

These issues that Tan already noted in the past include:

  1. Delayed detection (often “blamed” on the PLHIV, with this blaming neglecting that there are still unresolved issues related to stigma and discrimination).
  2. Bureaucratic deterrent to make new approaches the norm (e.g. rollout of well-funded CBS takes years; ignorance of U=U, thus non-inclusion among existing solutions).
  3. Lack of information about HIV and AIDS that often lead to stigma and discrimination (e.g. PLHIVs getting kicked out of their homes after their family members discover their status).
  4. Inability to get tested (e.g. there are fishermen and farmers who have no access to HIV testing facilities; minors who are unable to get tested sans consent from their parents/guardians).
  5. Inconsistent HIV services offered even by government-owned treatment hubs (e.g. viral load is not available in many of treatment hubs outside of Metro Manila).
  6. Mismanagement of available resources (e.g. existing projects allocate for some implementers to stay in posh hotels to hobnob with some well-compensated ‘ambassadors’; while some PLHIVs unable to access ARVs because of inability to pay PhilHealth).

“No one wants to be the pessimistic one here. But we have to be realistic and honest that – and this can not be re-iterated enough – unless our responses are changed, not just bettered, expect things to just continue worsening,” Tan ended.

A registered nurse, John Ryan (or call him "Rye") Mendoza hails from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao (where, no, it isn't always as "bloody", as the mainstream media claims it to be, he noted). He first moved to Metro Manila in 2010 (supposedly just to finish a health social science degree), but fell in love not necessarily with the (err, smoggy) place, but it's hustle and bustle. He now divides his time in Mindanao (where he still serves under-represented Indigenous Peoples), and elsewhere (Metro Manila included) to help push for equal rights for LGBT Filipinos. And, yes, he parties, too (see, activists need not be boring! - Ed).

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Relevance of public & private sectors’ support highlighted in Quezon City’s 2018 Pride parade

Highlighting the importance of the participation of all stakeholders, not just the LGBTQIA community but also including the public and the private sectors, Quezon City in Metro Manila held the last Pride parade in the Philippines for 2018.

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Highlighting the importance of the participation of all stakeholders, not just the LGBTQIA community but also including the public (including government) and the private sectors, Quezon City in Metro Manila held one of the last Pride parades in the Philippines for 2018.

Hanz Defensor, who helms Quezon City Pride Council (QCPC), the organizer of the annual gathering, told Outrage Magazine in an exclusive interview that Quezon City is “quite fortunate” that it now has an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that protects LGBTQIA people from discrimination.

Signed by mayor Herbert Bautista (whose term ends in May 2019), City Ordinance 2357-2014, otherwise known as The Quezon City Gender-Fair Ordinance, eyes to “to actively work for the elimination of all forms of discrimination that violate the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution, existing laws, and The Yogyakarta Principles; and to value the dignity of every person, guarantee full respect for human rights and give the highest priority to measures that protect and enhance the right of all people; regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).”

But Defensor said that, “admittedly, kulang pa rin (this is still lacking).” This is because – even if they already have the ADO and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), the actual implementation continues to be challenging.

Quezon City, Defensor noted as an example, has “a lot of business establishments, and while they know that discriminating against LGBTQIA people in the city is prohibited by law, not all of them actually have a copy of the ADO and the IRR to know the small details.”

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As he encouraged particularly those affected by the ADO to “download (the same) from Quezon City’s official website”, he is also encouraging other local government units to already take steps to also protect their LGBTQIA constituents, perhaps learning from Quezon City’s example.

The same sentiment was expressed in a letter sent to QCPC by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who remarked that Quezon City’s ADO – which also mandates the annual holding of the Pride parade – “has become a source of inspiration for advocates of gay rights in the Philippines and the rest of the world” because “it has institutionalized the city’s progressive and inclusive policy that eliminates discrimination on the basis of SOGIE.”

Though criticized for pinkwashing, Duterte still expressed hope that Pride further strengthens “the solidarity of (the) community so you may inspire the entire nation with the diversity and dynamism of your talents and skills.”

To contextualize, past administrations did not openly support Pride-related events.

Also, even if Akbayan partylist – which is aligned with Liberal Party that helmed the country under Pres. Benigno Aquino III prior to Duterte’s term – has been sponsoring the anti-discrimination bill for almost 20 years now, it still fails to gain traction, including during Aquino’s administration when it was largely ignored.

As an FYI, Quezon City actually hosted the largely accepted first Pride March in Asia.

On June 26, 1994, ProGay Philippines and Metropolitan Community Church helmed a march in Quezon City. Dubbed as “Stonewall Manila” or as “Pride Revolution”, it was held in remembrance of the Stonewall Inn Riots and coincided with a bigger march against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

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Defensor stressed the need to be pro-active when confronting LGBTQIA-related discrimination. While the ADO is there, he said that should LGBTQIA people from Quezon City experience discrimination, “seek help” and know that “QCPC is here, and the LGU will back you.”

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San Juan hosts 2nd Pride parade to stress city’s support for ‘equality in diversity’

The City of San Juan held its second LGBTQIA Pride parade. According to San Juan City Vice Mayor Janella Ejercito Estrada: “San Juan Pride is about people recognizing individuality, diversity and equality. We are all equal…”

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Rainbow explosion in the City of San Juan.

Just as the year is about to close, the City of San Juan held its second LGBTQIA Pride parade. This is part of the mandate of City Ordinance No. 55, or the anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) of the City of San Juan, which was passed in the third quarter of 2017 to protect the human rights of its LGBTQIA constituents.

Exclusively interviewed by Outrage Magazine, San Juan City Vice Mayor Janella Ejercito Estrada – who backed the ADO when it was still being proposed by Councilor Mary Joy Ibuna-Leoy – said that “San Juan Pride is about people recognizing individuality, diversity and equality. Lahat naman tayo ay pantay-pantay (we are all equal)… and (so) I’m an advocate for equality.”

Estrada added: “We acknowledge that LGBT rights are human rights; and we protect (those) rights here in San Juan.”

Pride – including Metro Manila’s – is admittedly fast be becoming a commercial endeavor. But Faustino “Bubsie” L. Sabarez III, national chairman of LGBT Pilipinas, said that “we still need Pride because it highlights individuality and the celebration of diversity.” He added that “safe spaces are still needed to celebrate being LGBTQIA, and (Pride) is one such space.”

Dindi Tan, Secretary-General of LGBT Pilipinas, added that Pride – such as San Juan’s – shows “where we are now.”

The city, for instance, has its ADO. This ADO, by the way, is not exclusive to LGBTQI people, but is also for those who may experience discrimination based on: race, disability, ethnicity and religious affiliation.

City of San Juan passes LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

San Juan’s ADO prohibits, among others: employment-related discrimination; discrimination in education; discrimination in delivery of goods and services; discrimination in accommodation; verbal/non-verbal ridicule and vilification; harassment, unjust detention and involuntary confinement; disallowance from entry or refusal to serve; and the promotion of LGBT discrimination. Any person held liable under the ordinance may be penalized with imprisonment for 60 days to a year or fined up to P3,000, or both, depending on the discretion of a court.

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Tan is also realistic in saying that the anti-discrimination bill (ADB) being pushed in the Senate by Sen. Rosa Hontiveros of Akbayan is basically dead. Its counterpart in the House of Representatives was passed with the big help of trans Rep. Geraldine Roman of the First District of Bataan; but the version in the Upper House failed to gain traction not only because of the opposition of select senators particularly Tito Sotto, Manny Pacquiao and Joel Villanueva, but also because of the exclusivist approach in the pushing for the ADB.

“Until an ADB is passed, we need ADOs,” Tan said. And local government units with ADOs “should be commended.”

Tan is also pushing for the election (in the 2019 May elections) of “politicians who will deliver,” she said, particularly “the promise for an ADB.”

Moving forward, Vice Mayor Estrada said that they are already eyeing other LGBTQIA-related efforts – e.g. broadening the city’s anti-HIV efforts to “ensure that testing, and then treatment, care and support are widely rendered in the city.”

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People now embrace different forms of intimate relationships that flout cultural norms

Social media and the internet empowered individuals with diverse identities and relationship practices to find each other, raising awareness of connections that challenge traditional ideas about the meaning of intimacy. 

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Photo by Dani Vivanco from Unsplash.com

The 21st century ushered in a “quiet revolution” in the diversity of intimate relationships. With the scale and pace of this social transformation, what is needed is a “reboot” of relationship studies.

This is according to Phillip Hammack, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and lead author of “Queer Intimacies: A New Paradigm for the Study of Relationship Diversity,” an article that appeared in the online edition of The Journal of Sex Research. Hammack’s co-authors include David Frost, associate professor of social psychology at University College London, and Sam Hughes, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz.

For the authors, social media and the internet empowered individuals with diverse identities and relationship practices to find each other, raising awareness of connections that challenge traditional ideas about the meaning of intimacy.

“I’ve been calling it a quiet revolution, because it’s very different than the sexual revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s, which were so visible,” said Hammack.

Hammack said the “quiet revolution” is affected by “queer intimacies”, meaning “any and all intimate relationships that challenge norms.” “It’s a use of ‘queer’ that actually originated at UC Santa Cruz with the phrase ‘queer theory’ in 1990,” Hammack said.

Particularly in countries like the US, Hammack said that marriage equality (same-sex marriage was legalized in the US in 2015) is the backdrop for the explosion of relationship diversity that has occurred since the early 2000s.

“Marriage equality opens up the lens to think about diversity beyond just the gender of the people in a relationship,” said Hammack, noting that asexuality, polyamory, and kink/fetish all challenge dominant notions of intimacy.

Will you open up?

These people are thriving in intimate relationships far from the cultural norms of monogamy and heterosexuality, including asexual, polyamorous, transgender and gender nonbinary, pansexual, and kink/fetish relationships.

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He also said that “it’s a myth that asexual people aren’t in relationships just because they experience little or no sexual desire,” said Hammack. “The assumption is that they are suffering, lonely, and without partners, but that’s not true. They do have intimate relationships, but we don’t know much about them.”

People who identify as asexual “violate the fundamental assumption that intimate relationships are inherently characterized by sex,” said Hammack. They started to organize in the early 2000s, thanks to the internet.

Asexuality was removed from the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013.

In a similar challenge to cultural norms, those who choose polyamorous relationships violate conventions of monogamy by allowing partners to love more than one person. Although gay men have a long tradition of open relationships, and ‘swinging’ was favored by some straight couples in the 1970s, polyamory now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, following what Hammack referred to as a “simmering movement that challenged heteronormative conventions about what an ideal relationship is supposed to look like.”

Mainstream representations are also affecting concepts and/or relationship practices. For instance, the success of the 2011 novel Fifty Shades of Grey is said to have helped propel mainstream discussion of kink/fetish relationships, which highlight consensual asymmetrical power dynamics in intimate relationships.

Hammack, nonetheless, admitted that even if it made people curious, “the novel was problematic because it didn’t accurately represent the consensual way relationships are configured in the kink community… Kink relationships have been stigmatized because the expectation is that relationships are supposed to be ‘equal’.”

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Unfortunately, Hammack said that researchers still know little about what happens within kink/fetish relationships. “To what extent is the power asymmetry just during sex? We don’t know,” said Hammack. “Most of this science doesn’t talk about the relationships. It just talks about specific kinky practices… There’s almost no recognition of relationships – it’s all about sexual gratification, which is only part of the picture.”

Yet other concepts that have emerged are: “queer heterosexuality”, as well as changes in ideas about “chosen families.”

“Heterosexuality is opening up like never before,” said Hammack. “More people who identify as straight will have some same-sex experience – they even refer to ‘heteroflexibility.’ They are not opposed to same-sex encounters.”

Younger gay men moving away from non-monogamous relationships, study says

This trend is long-established among women, but it’s new among men – and it’s distinct from bisexuality because these men don’t feel equally attracted to men and women. “It’s fascinating to see masculinity opening up this way,” he said.

Hammack noted that still “very, very little” is known about the phenomenon of chosen families as distinct from biological families. This is a phenomenon that has been historically associated with gays and lesbians who “create their own families” after being rejected by biological relatives; however, its prevalence remains a mystery.

This is why Hammack said that more research initiatives should be done to focus on diversity in intimate relationships to “document the diversity of what’s happening out there,” Hammack ended.

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1 percent of children aged 9-10 self-identify as gay, bi or trans

While 1% of youth aged 9 and 10 self-identified as LGBT, their parents reported they believed their children were gay, bisexual or transgender at a higher rate.

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About 1% of 9 and 10-year old children surveyed self-identified as gay, bisexual or transgender. 

This finding was detailed in “Child Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Cohort Study,” co-authored by Jerel P. Calzo and Aaron J. Blashill, and which appeared in JAMA Pediatrics.

Majority of studies indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-identification generally occurs during the mid-adolescent years. So “this is such an important stage, biologically and socially,”said lead author Calzo, an associate professor in the SDSU School of Public Health.

At 9 and 10, youth – whether through their peers, media or parents – are beginning to be exposed to more information about relationships and interacting in the world. Also, they may not see any of this as sexual, but they are beginning to experience strong feelings, said Calzo.

Calzo and Blashill utilized the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study dataset, a multisite, longitudinal study exploring brain development and health among children aged 9 and 10 over a 10-year period, leading to the 1 percent finding for self-identification.

“One percent is sizable, given that they are so young,” Blashill said. “For so long, social scientists have assumed that there is no point in asking kids at this age about their sexual orientation, believing they do not have the cognitive ability to understand.” But “it is important to have a baseline to understand how sexuality develops and how it may change over time.”

Blashill and Calzo also sought to understand how parents perceived their children’s sexual and gender identities. Surprisingly, nearly 7% of parents, when asked about the sexual identity of their children, reported their child might be gay; and 1.2% reported that their child might be transgender.

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Another finding was that children overwhelmingly reported no problems at home or school related to their minority sexual orientation or gender identity while 7% of parents reported gender identity-based problems.

As sexual and gender minorities experience higher rates of physical and mental health issues than do their heterosexual counterparts, the research “may provide crucial insights into resiliency development within the LGBT community”, said the authors, adding that “it could also help lead to improved programs and policies to better serve the community.”

Yet another key finding is the need for researchers to identify better ways to explore identity issues among younger populations, with about 24% of those surveyed indicating that they did not understand questions about sexual orientation.

“If we can understand identity development earlier and can track development using large datasets, we can begin improving research and prevention around risk and protective factors,” Calzo said,.

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Bullying ‘follows’ LGB people from school to work

35.2% of gay/bisexual men who had experienced frequent school-age bullying experience frequent workplace bullying. Among lesbian women, the figure was 29%.

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IMAGE USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSE ONLY; PHOTO DETAIL BY CHRISTIAN STERK FROM UNSPLASH.COM

Around one in three lesbian, gay and bi individuals who are bullied at school will have similar experiences in the workplace later in life.

This is according to “School-Age Bullying, Workplace Bullying and Job Satisfaction: Experiences of LGB People in Britain”, a research done by Nick Drydakis from The Manchester School.

For this research, Drydakis approached 400 LGB individuals to ask them about their experiences at school, and also asked them about bullying at their current workplace. He found that 35.2% of gay/bisexual men who had experienced frequent school-age bullying experience frequent workplace bullying. Among lesbian women, the figure was 29%.

When describing their experiences at school, 73% of gay men said they were either constantly, frequently or sometimes bullied. Just 9.9% said they were never bullied. Among lesbian women, 59% experienced constant, frequent, or occasional bullying. The mean age of participants was 37, meaning their school years would have been approximately between 1985 and 1997.

The research also examined job satisfaction. Most gay men said they were “dissatisfied” with their job (56%), while this was also the most common answer for lesbian women (47%).

“This study suggests that bullying may be a chronic problem for LGB individuals, which continues from school to the workplace,” Drydakis said.

This could be for a number of reasons – school-age bullying could be more likely to lead to low self-esteem, a difficulty in forming trusting relationships, or a greater risk of poor mental health. Factors like these may make it more likely they will experience bullying in the workplace later in life.

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“Post school-age bullying victims might exhibit characteristics of vulnerability, such as sub-assertive behaviors, which make them attractive targets for unfavorable treatments and evaluations from colleagues and employers in the workplace. “In turn, individuals, firms and society as a whole face long-lasting negative effects which appear to begin in the playground,” Drydakis said.

There is also a negative association between bullying of LGB individuals, and job satisfaction.

Interestingly, the research found that the existence of a workplace group for LGB individuals appeared to result in better job satisfaction, perhaps a lesson for employers wanting a more satisfied and motivated workforce.

“The outcomes of this study suggest… that bullying, when it is experienced by sexual orientation minorities tends to persist over time,” the research concludes. And so “anti‐bullying strategies and affirmative actions in school and the workplace might be of consideration.”

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Conversion ‘therapy’ begins at home

Study shows pivotal role of parents in “conversion” efforts to change LGBT adolescents’ sexual orientation.

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LGBT hate – like love – begins at home.

Parents – not just therapists and religious leaders – play a big role in attempts to change the sexual orientation (often called “conversion therapy”) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people who experience sexual orientation change efforts during adolescence.

This is according to a study from the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), dubbed “Parent-Initiated Sexual Orientation Change Efforts with LGBT Adolescents: Implications for Young Adult Mental Health and Adjustment“, which examined the sexual orientation change experiences for LGBT youth across several domains and asked about conversion experiences with both parents/caregivers and with practitioners and religious leaders. This study builds on an earlier FAP project study on family rejection and health risks that identified and measured more than 50 specific family rejecting behaviors that include parental and caregiver efforts and external interventions to change their LGBT child’s sexual orientation.

In the study published online in the Journal of Homosexuality, more than half (53%) of LGBT non-Latino white and Latino young adults, ages 21-25, reported experiencing sexual orientation change efforts during adolescence. Of these, 21% reported specific experiences by parents and caregivers to change their sexual orientation at home; and 32% reported sexual orientation change efforts by both parents and by therapists and religious leaders.

Notably, according to the researchers, “any sexual orientation change efforts – whether by parents alone or by parents, therapists and religious leaders contribute to higher risk for LGBT young people. However, those who experience both parental and external conversion efforts by therapists or religious leaders had the highest levels of risk.”

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The role of parental support is worth highlighting, because – whether change efforts are carried out at home by parents and caregivers or by practitioners and religious leaders – parents serve as gatekeepers to both engage in and take their LGBT children for external conversion interventions. Both home-based parent and external sexual orientation conversion interventions by therapists and religious leaders, coupled with parent conversion efforts, contribute to multiple health and adjustment problems in young adulthood. These include higher levels of depression and suicidal behavior, as well as lower levels of self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction, and lower levels of education and income in young adulthood, compared with LGBT young people who did not experience conversion efforts.

Other study findings include:

  • Rates of attempted suicide by LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double (48%) the rate of LGBT young adults who reported no conversion experiences (22%). Suicide attempts nearly tripled for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and intervention efforts by therapists and religious leaders (63%).
  • High levels of depression more than doubled (33%) for LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation compared with those who reported no conversion experiences (16%) and more than tripled (52%) for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and external sexual orientation change efforts by therapists and religious leaders.
  • Sexual orientation change experiences during adolescence by both parents / caregivers and externally by therapists and religious leaders were associated with lower young adult socioeconomic status: less educational attainment and lower weekly income.
  • LGBT adolescents from highly religious families and those from families with lower socioeconomic status were most likely to experience both home-based and external conversion efforts, while those who were gender nonconforming and who were from immigrant families were more likely to experience external conversion efforts initiated by parents and caregivers.
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“Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child’s LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to ‘protect’ their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child’s sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care which includes constricting their ability to make a living,” said Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University and lead author noted.

“We now have even more dramatic evidence of the lasting personal and social cost of subjecting young people to so-called ‘change’ or ‘conversion’ therapies. Prior studies with adults have shown how harmful these practices are. Our study shows the role central role that parents play. It is clear that there are public health costs of ‘change’ efforts for LGBT adolescents over the long-term. The kind of change we really need is family education and intervention” added study co-author, Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., Regents Professor, University of Texas at Austin.

Although responses to prevent conversion efforts particularly overseas have focused on adopting laws to curtail licensed practitioners from engaging in sexual orientation change interventions (deemed unethical and harmful by mainstream professional associations), this study nonetheless underscores “the urgent need for culturally appropriate education and guidance for families and religious leaders to provide accurate information on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, on the harmful effects of family rejecting behaviors which include sexual orientation conversion efforts, and on the need for supporting LGBT young people to reduce risk and increase well-being.”

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