Program Evaluation of the Healthy Relationships Program for LGBT2Q+ youth

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area, Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region, North Slave Region, South Slave Region, Qikiqtaaluk Region

Tags: social sciences, mental health, youth, LGBT2Q+, violence prevention

Principal Investigator: Crooks, Claire (2)
Licence Number: 16914
Organization: Western University
Licensed Year(s): 2022 2021
Issued: Oct 26, 2021
Project Team: Meghan Fournie, Katelyn Judges, Annaliese Loepkky

Objective(s): The goal of the project is to build capacity and evaluate the efforts in the area of violence prevention and mental health promotion programming for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two-Spirit, Queer/Questioning (LGBT2Q+) youth.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.5052.

The goal of the project is to build capacity and evaluate the efforts in the area of violence prevention and mental health promotion programming for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two-Spirit, Queer/Questioning (LGBT2Q+) youth. The research team provide educators and other professionals who work directly with LGBT2Q+ Youth in school settings with training on the Healthy Relationships Program (HRP) for LGBT2Q+ that they may utilize during Genders and Sexualities Alliances/Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club meetings. The research team will work with school boards and community agencies to undertake a mixed-methods, quasi-experimental study of the impacts of the HRP for LGBT2Q+ Youth. Specifically, this study will compare the experiences of GSA members who participate in formal programming (i.e., the HRP for LGBT2Q+ Youth) with those who participate in standard club programming (i.e., unstructured club content) to evaluate the relative benefits of regular formalized/structured GSA programming and determine the extent to which the HRP for LGBT2Q+ specifically promotes positive mental health and well-being among LGBT2Q+ youth and their allies, and bolsters constructive communication and coping strategies among group members. The project will occur over two and a half school years from October 1, 2021 to December 2023 to allow for follow-up data collection.

Across Canada, the HRP for LGBT2Q+ Youth will be delivered via GSAs in approximately 15 high school GSAs and 15 standard GSAs will be utilized as a comparison group. Students in GSAs (i.e., GSA members) where the HRP for LGBT2Q+ youth is delivered, and students in GSAs where it is not delivered (i.e., schools with standard programming), will be invited to participate in three online surveys: i) one at the beginning of the school year (pre-programming), ii) one at the end of the school year (post programming), and iii) one at the beginning of the following school year (follow-up). The surveys include questions about their GSA, how they cope with stress, positive mental health and well-being, social supports, self-esteem, who they might seek support from, dating and dating violence, and questions about their identities. Students will also be invited to participate in an individual interview at the end of the school year to learn more about their experiences with GSA activities and programming.

Student GSA members will be recruited in person or by videoconference. The method of recruitment will depend partly on any public health measures or travel restrictions in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as general logistical considerations. If in-person is feasible, a member of the research team will attend a regular GSA meeting and distribute Letters of Information and consent forms, prompt people to read the documents, answer any questions, and collect consent forms from youth interested in participating. If over videoconference, the research team member will read the letter of information, answer any questions, and send attendees a link to the online LOI and consent form using Zoom’s chat feature. When recruitment by a member of the research team is not feasible, GSA advisors will assist with recruiting GSA members either in person or over videoconference (e.g., if the group is virtual due to pandemic). GSA advisors will be provided a verbal recruitment script to follow to ensure they do not exert influence on the students to participate. Paper copies of consent forms will be returned to the research team using the provided expedited envelope.

The research team are asking GSA members (i.e., any high school-aged student who participants in the club) to consent to their own participation in the study, because "...parental permission for LGBT adolescents to participate in health research may not be a reasonable requirement to protect them because many of their parents may be unaware of their children's sexual orientation [and/or gender identity]. Requiring participants to disclose their sexual orientation [and/or gender identity] to their parents as a condition for research participation could actually increase risk since parental abuse, rejection, and neglect has been documented as a result of disclosure. When LGBT2Q+ youth are unable to 'come out' to their parent(s)/guardian(s)/caregiver(s), researchers' ability to effectively address mental and sexual health disparities among this population is compromised \. Moreover, research has found that "...requiring parental consent for LGBT youth under 18 would likely alter study data" in that it would underrepresent youth who have not made a suicide attempt, those with less family support, youth who binge drink less, adolescents who are racial/ethnic minorities, and youth who are bisexual.

Consenting GSA members will be sent a link to the survey via the email address provided on their consent form. If the email bounces back, the team will send the link by text message. They will be sent two email reminders once two weeks after the survey was sent and a second time one week after the first reminder. It is estimated that the survey could take approximately 30 minutes to complete at each administration. Individual interviews with GSA members will take place by telephone, in-person at the school that each person attends, or by Zoom. The interviews will last approximately 30-45 minutes and will be facilitated in a private office at the participant’s school. The researcher will follow the Zoom protocol described below.

GSA advisors/educators will also be invited to participate in the following research activities:
1) A weekly GSA meeting survey that they will be asked to complete online throughout the school year. They will be asked whether a GSA meeting was held that week and if yes, answer a few additional short questions about the content of GSA meetings and generic membership attendance.
2) An end-of-year questionnaire that they will be asked to complete online at the end of the school year. They will be asked a series of short questions on their experiences running a GSA.
3) [Intervention GSA advisors only] An implementation questionnaire that they will be asked to complete online at the end of the school year. They will be asked questions about their experience with implementing the HRP for LGT2Q+ Youth and challenges / successes experienced using it.
4) An interview at the end of the school year regarding their experiences as a GSA advisor and/or facilitator of the HRP for LGBT2Q+ youth.

GSA advisors at intervention and comparison sites will be invited to participate in the study by email, in-person, or by videoconference. School board administrators will communicate directly with GSA advisors in the school board via email to provide information about the study and a link to the online LOI and consent form. If interested in participating, GSA advisors will complete the online consent form. School administrators will be provided with two separate email scripts: one for GSA advisors delivering the HRP for LGBT2Q+ youth (intervention group) and a second for other GSA advisors within the school board not delivering the program (non-intervention group). Alternatively, the school board administrator may set up a meeting with the GSA advisors either in-person or through videoconference (Zoom). A member of the research team will attend the meeting and introduce the study to the advisors using the verbal recruitment script. If in-person, they will describe the study, distribute the Letter of Information (LOI) and Consent forms, prompt people to read the documents, answer any questions, and collect consent forms from advisors interested in participating in the study. If over videoconference, they will read the letter of information, answer any questions, and send attendees a link to the online LOI and consent form using Zoom’s chat feature. If interested, advisors will complete the online consent form.

The following measures will be put in place to protect participants’ confidentiality while using Zoom to conduct interviews:
1. The Zoom meeting ID will only be shared with participants who consented to participate in the interview.
2. The Zoom meeting ID will be automatically generated. A password will be created and shared with participants in a separate email from the initial Zoom invitation/meeting details.
3. A waiting room will be enabled to allow this researcher to control who can enter the meeting.
4. The meeting will be set so that participants can’t join the session before the researcher.
5. Participants will be prevented from screen sharing and using private chat.
6. The meeting will be locked to prevent anyone new from joining once all participants who confirmed their attendance are in the meeting.
7. Before the recording proceeds, participants will be reminded that audio-recording is mandatory. The research team will tell them that Zoom also records the video and that the video-file will be deleted immediately following the call. They will be instructed to keep their video off if they wish to not be video-recorded.

Communication with The Department of Education, Culture and Employment will take place to plan for training and research. Communications with those who attended the training sessions will take place to collect information and support facilitators of the HRP for LGBT2Q+ Youth. With consultation from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and the Aurora Institute, any additional community organization consultations will take place. Upon completion of the study, a plain language summary of the findings will be disseminated to the Department of Education, Culture, and Employment, and participating communities. The team will also discuss holding a presentation or webinar with the partners.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from October 27, 2021 to December 31, 2021.