What We’re Learning
As we’ve travelled the country—places like Anchorage, Birmingham, Chicago, and Los Angeles—and talked to queer youth, we’ve learned that young queer people are actively exploring their identities and their communities. This mode of exploration is a journey towards embodying their whole selves. They seek understanding of feelings and observations of societal norms: What identities exist? What resonates with me? Who resides within my queer community? How do I understand how others react to my identity? How do I form a sense of self? How do I fully embrace and love who I am, even if there are those around me or larger societal forces that do not affirm my identity?
Because we live in a cis-het society, queer youth are often left to create their own tools to cope and build up their resilience. They collect resources and make their own guides to share with friends and family. They leverage technology and share pieces of their lived experiences on social platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Their stories and makeshift guides help connect them, and provide one another support.
We see an opportunity to build science-backed digital health products and programs based on many of these self-made tools. We want queer teens to feel heard, seen, and accepted. Our goal is to support queer youth who are in this explorative phase and give access to those who need mental health and emotional support as they move through this formative time in their lives.
Multilevel Research to Improve Equity
Our own team of researchers is partnering with the Penn Program on Sexuality, Technology, and Action Research (PSTAR) to leverage their expertise in research and intervention methods aimed at policy solutions for sexual and gender minorities. We’ll work directly with José Bauermeister, MPH, Ph.D. and Jesse Golinkoff, MPH, whose research interests include health inequities affecting LGBTQ+ communities, qualitative methodologies, and technology-based health interventions, as we co-create, develop, and iterate on our science-backed intervention. Together, we’ll engage with academics, policy stakeholders, and queer youth to create innovative, engaging, and evidence-backed tools.
Sign up for our newsletter and stay up-to-date with the latest news from the milk collaborative. You’ll learn about the results of our prototype test, our research partnership with PSTAR, and exciting upcoming developments such as the upcoming product pilot launch.