Monico and Belfer '19 enhance LGBTQIA+ competence 

Building on undergraduate mentored research, Assistant Professor Carmen Monico and Amy Belfer '19 delivered LGBTQIA+ competence workshops to professionals who provide student and human services to youth.

Nationally, LGBTQIA+ individuals face a number of issues including mental health issues, bullying, harassment or abuse, homelessness, and body image issues, among others. About 40 percent of homeless children are LGBTQ. The rate of suicide attempt or ideation is 4 times higher for LGBTQ youth than cisgender or heterosexual youth. One study showed 74.1 percent of LGBTQ youth experienced verbal harassment at school, 55 percent of LGBT youth felt unsafe at school, and 36 percent experienced physical harassment at school. Minimal research has been conducted in NC on LGBTQIA youth. 

Belfer, right, presenting at SURF and posing with Monico
To address the gap in research, Human Service Studies (HSS) faculty Carmen Monico and HSS student Amy Belfer '19 engaged in a two-year research project to ascertain the needs of young LGBTQIA residents in Alamance County and determine what services are available and accessible, where the gaps in existing services are, and how existing services can be improved. Belfer completed her Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) with the production of a summary report. 

As a recommendation emerging from the research, the faculty-student team developed a rubric to enhance the capacity of service delivery personnel to engage with LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities. The rubric was developed with the input from the Gender & LGBTQIA Center (GLC) and the Parents, Families, Friends and Allies United with LGBTQ People to Move Equality Forward (PFLAG).

During spring 2019, the research results were presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF). A manuscript about the project was submitted for publication in the NCUR proceedings. The first LGBTQIA+ competence workshop was presented Southern Organization of Human Services (SOHS) Conference on April 15-18, 2019, in Miami, Florida. 

On May 14, 2019, Monico and Belfer delivered an LGBTQIA Competence and Resources Workshop as part of the Leadership & Professional Development program at Elon. The same workshop will be delivered at the National Conference of the Social Work Organization (LSWO). The National LSWO Latinx Social Work Conference will take place in Chicago on Sept. 25-27, 2019.