An affirming newsletter for Lesbian Women
and their Partners
February 2009- Vol 1, Issue 1
In This Issue
Quick Links       
Join Our Mailing List!

LGBT Youth Study:  Parent Support  Crucial

Youth who experienced negative feedback from parents such as:
  • blaming the child for being bullied,
  • forcing the child to date the opposite sex,
  • hiding the youth's sexual orientation from family members,
  • verbal and physical abuse;  
were more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide, nearly six times as vulnerable to severe depression and more than three times at risk of drug use.
LGBT TeenThis highlights the importance of parental support for kids coming out. When youth identify and come out at earlier ages, parents may assume that their child can't be gay, because they have not been sexually active. This stems from our society's tendency to over-sexualize gay identity.
We have no problem assuming our kids are straight, well before they have had the chance to explore dating relationships or sex.  This is the result of heterosexism in our culture: the assumption that people are straight. To learn more about heterosexism, click here.
To read the study and learn more about the Family Acceptance Project which sponsored the study, click here: 
Head of State
First Gay
Head of Government 
Now you can tell your daughters... you can grow up to be prime minister!

In a first for the LGBT community worldwide, Johanna Sigurdardottir became the first
openly gay or lesbian head of state in the world. At 66, Ms. Sigurdardottir is the newly appointed Prime Minister of Iceland.  Read more here
Respect For All
Last month I attended a powerful training with the Respect for All Project - an organization that trains and equips teachers, social workers, mentors, families and community leaders in gender diversity and sexual diversity education.
Along with teachers, youth advocates and members of a variety of OC human rights groups- we strategized about how to bring the need for addressing LGBT youth issues more into focus.
We left with a renewed dedication to take these tools to our respective contacts within the community with the goal of equipping more teachers, parents and youth with information and tools for dialogue that reduce bullying and discrimination and create safer environments at home, at school and on the playground for non-conforming youth and their parents.
I highly recommend their documentaries as a way to get the conversation in your family, church or group. To order or preview, go to 

Let's Get Real: Youth speak up about name-calling and bullying
That's a Family: Kids talk about all kinds of families
Its Elementary: Talking about Gay issues in School
Welcome to the February 2009 issue of REFLECTIONS, from the office of Lisa Maurel, MFT.  
In this issue of Reflections, you will find numerous resources supporting your health. As I write this, I'm aware of how the avalanche of news reports on the economic crisis is becoming a constant white noise to my day. I'm realizing it is more important than ever to take time to be still, turn off the news, and attend to the simple experience of being. Taking a walk, noticing the green that is bursting forth in the Back Bay, spending time at home with my family, and focusing on what really matters-these are the balms for a time of change.I've also compiled some resources to help you improve your health and find providers and services that are Lesbian informed and affirming. I hope you will take some time to determine what it is that helps you center in the midst of anxiety or worry and that you will offer that to yourself with kindness.
If I can be of assistance to you, please contact me .
 lotusDo you have the patience
to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
 - Lao Tzu
How's Your Health?
The Impact of Minority Stress
The stress of being part of a sexual minority group is manifest daily in the experiences of LGBTQ people. Unfortunately, LGBT people do not always connect the dots between the effects of chronic minority stress and the real life problems of addiction, substance abuse, relationship conflict or depression to name a few. Of course there are other contributing factors to the development of these problems in any given person's life. But recognition of the impact of chronic minority stress is important for both members of the community and health care providers in order to remove the barriers to accessing care that is LGBT affirming and informed. 
According the the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans women face an increased rate of health problems and barriers to health care. Many of these increased risks can be traced to the stressors and circumstances associated with being part of a minority subgroup, discrimination and barriers to equality.  
Prop 8 and Minority Stress
The recent drama of Prop 8 and its' psychological impact on the health of the LGBT community has been documented in studies recently published. Results indicate that campaigns of this nature inflict direct messages of oppression, rejection and negative stereotyping to cause significant psychological stress which is unrelated to pre-existing factors and conditions. In states with anti-LGBT measures on the ballot, LGBT residents experienced  a kind of harassment and bullying through the campaign messages. The results?  Increased stress, anxiety and sometimes  fear of violence. Stress has a tremendous impact on physical and mental health.  
Three barriers to health for sexual minorities include:
  • higher rates of smoking,
  • substance abuse, and
  • lower access to health care with LGBT informed and affirming health care providers.
 LBT Recovery
LBT women are 200% more likely to smoke than their non LBT counterparts. LBT women are also documented as being more likely to abuse substances. If you need help to deal with a habit that's becoming a problem or an addiction, community recovery is key.
You can find LBT friendly meetings at : Long Beach Meetings.  LBT women can also find recovery resources and welllness  support in a Lesbian affirming environment at your local Gay and lesbian Center. Visit the Center Long Beach and The Center OC for meeting information. 
Low Cost Health Care Options
One of the barriers that LBT women face in finding a Doctor they trust and will see regularly is access to health care. LBT women are uninsured at a 5-10% higher rate than the general population. This is due in part to the lack of equity in insurance benefits for domestic partners as opposed to married partners-an issue we are all well aware of. 
If you are currently without health insurance, the Center Los Angeles has a clinic that can help-with low cost services such as HIV testing, pregnancy prevention, and even insemination. 
Find a LGBT Informed Doctor
When looking for a doctor, its vital to find someone you can be totally honest with regarding your sexual history and your current sexual status since HIV, STD's such as HPV are all risk factors for LBT women. Once you find an LBT doc you feel comfortable with-its important that you have an honest conversation about your sexual history and your risk factors-such as multiple partners, safe sex, and use of drugs. Your doctor can advise you about how to best protect your health; and keep you on a regular schedule of health screenings to promote early detection of any problems. 
You can locate an LBT doctor, dentist, surgeon, ob-gyn, or other medical professional at the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Provider Page .  I'm currently compiling a Local Resource List for  and I want to include listings of doctors who are lesbian informed and affirming. If you want to be included on this list or know a doctor you would recommend, please email me.  
A website for the gay lesbian straight education network, with information about statewide events as well as local opportunites for education, advocacy and community for  gay and straight allies.
The website for the gay and lesbian medical community-which offers a database for locating a provider, tips on how to talk with your provider about your sexual orientation, sexual history, gender status etc.
Additional note:
Researchers noted that supportive community and family helped to offset this stress, and that non-LGBT family members demonstrated similar stress responses to the campaigns.  You can read all three studies here:  
For more resources dedicated to LGBT youth, check out my Youth Resource Page. You'll find local community resources for youth, advocacy, mentoring and info for parents as well.
Until next month...
lisa - headshot
Be well and happy,
 Lisa Maurel, MFT 
"Growth is in your hands"