Leadership and Committee Initiatives

Toward a Thriving Generation: Plans for a Pre-Convention Workshop

Interdivisional project to create an agenda for LGBTQ youth and emerging adults.
By Richard A. Sprott, PhD

From Richard A. Sprott, PhD, Co-chair, Div. 44 Children, Youth and Families Committee:

Div. 44, in partnership with Div. 7 (Developmental), Div. 9 (Social Issues), Div. 27 (Community), Div. 37 (Child/Family Policy) and Div. 43 (Couple/Family), has proposed a project for 2019 that will result in a formal statement of priorities and an agenda for these divisions, regarding the health and well-being of sexual and gender minority youth and emerging adults. We hope to create a preconvention day-long workshop in Chicago on Aug. 7, 2019, a workshop that would be formative in creating this joint agenda. Plans for a website, a webinar and collaborative programming proposals for APA 2020 will also be the outcomes of the project.

Last week, we received notice that the Committee on APA/Division Relations (CODAPAR) is recommending that the APA Board of Directors fund the project. We had requested $5,000 to support these various efforts; the Board will make its decision at the December meeting.

The goals of the 2019 formal pre-convention meeting would include:

  • Setting an agenda for research, advocacy, community and clinical work addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth and emerging adults.
  • Fostering collaboration and networking so that research, the development of interventions and programs and implementation efforts are community-based at every step of the process.

Importantly, this pre-convention meeting would build on a successful earlier collaboration between Divs. 9 and 44. These divisions co-sponsored a 2018 pre-convention workshop focusing on LGBTQ advocacy/policy. That collaboration — while different in content — was similar in format and administration to what is proposed as a 2019 pre-convention meeting.  From the perspective of Div. 7, additionally, incoming President Luthar has explicitly prioritized applications of developmental science to foster positive adaptation among at-risk youth and families as a core theme for this division during 2019.


Rapid change in the civil rights, political and cultural context for the LGBTQ population has significantly changed over the past 10-15 years, leading to different challenges and supports for youth and young adults who are sexual and gender minorities. In addition, there has been significant change in the diversity and variations of sexual and gender identities (e.g., pansexual, asexual, non-binary gender) that have differential health implications. The mental and physical health or markers thereof (e.g., health-related risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex) continue to be much more common among LGBTQ than heterosexual peers regardless of sex and ethnicity/race. Given these changes and continued poor health of LGBTQ youth, the field of psychology would benefit from an effort to explore how it can most effectively address the needs of sexual/gender minority youth and young adults at this time of rapid, unexpected changes.

APA Goals and Objectives

This project fits into APA's Strategic Plan Goal Two: Expand psychology's role in advancing health, and it can fit two of the current overarching areas identified by the APA Board of Directors' Spring 2018 Retreat in developing the new strategic plan:

  • Solving public health and social issues
  • Promoting and expanding outward-facing efforts (partnership with other national organizations/APA's efforts in K-12 education)
  • Addressing health disparities for LGBTQ youth and emerging adults will be one of the areas explored in the project, as priorities and an agenda are set. 

Other public health/social issues will be addressed, such as issues of discrimination, lack of resources to support educational attainment for sexual/gender minority youth and further development of anti-bullying efforts in schools. Issues of family formation and relationship quality for youth and emerging adults will also be addressed, including concerns surrounding intimate partner violence or domestic abuse; issues impacting the parenting of LGBTQ youth will be part of the discussion.

The development of the statement of priorities in research, clinical training and public interest will support the building of bridges between APA and community and other professional organizations, such as the GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Trevor Project, Men Having Babies, the Gay/Lesbian/Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Parents & Friends of Gays/Lesbians (PFLAG), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), National LGBTQ Task Force, the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, etc.

How can you get involved?

Contact Richard Sprott or Jillian Scheer, co-chairs of the Div. 44 Children, Youth and Families Committee, and let us know if you want to be involved. If you are interested in receiving updates, send us your email address. We can use help in reaching out to national professional and community organizations, getting the word out to psychologists and grad students, helping out on the day of the preconvention workshop, setting up a website and managing community and professional feedback on the proposed agenda.

Registration for the event will open in April 2019.