New report explores LGBT youth smoking

News Notes: Beyond the Carolinas

A new report released Aug. 24 by the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) explores the reasons why sexual minority youth smoke and suggests strategies for prevention.

The study, “Coming Out About Smoking: Tobacco Use in the LGBTQ Young Adult Community,” finds that sexual minority youth are likely to smoke due to unique stressors such as discrimination and lack of family acceptance; that many sexual minority youth see smoking as an important social activity; that most sexual minority youth prefer to date nonsmokers; and, that sexual minority youth smokers tend not to smoke heavily, with many wanting to quit.

In order to reduce smoking rates, the report recommends intervention programs designed by youth and for youth, early outreach to youth smokers and emphasis on the health risks of smoking.

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“Coming Out About Smoking” utilizes information from focus groups and a survey of nearly 1,000 sexual minority youth. The survey was written to address the gaps in research on tobacco use in the LGBTQ community.

Gregory Varnum, executive director of NYAC, said, “Current data suggest that sexual minority youth are more likely to smoke than the general youth population, but this report examines why. There is plenty of opportunity for intervention; we need to encourage tobacco prevention programs designed and driven by and for youth, which both emphasize the health risks of smoking and relate to the major stressors sexual minority youth face each day.”

The National Youth Advocacy Coalition is a national social justice organization working with LGBT and questioning youth to strengthen the role of young people in the LGBTQ rights movement. Celebrating its 17th anniversary, NYAC’s full-time professional staff supports local, state and national organizations working to engage LGBTQ youth. NYAC is committed to representing the voices of young people — the largest living generation — within the broader LGBTQ and social justice movements.

> A three-Judge panel with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion for a stay filed by proponents of California’s Proposition 8, delaying implementation of the Aug. 4 U.S. District Court order overturning the measure and opening marriage to same-sex couples. In its order, the 9th Circuit panel scheduled an expedited appellate hearing for December 6, and directed Prop. 8 proponents to file an opening brief by Sept. 17 that includes “a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed” for lack of standing.

> Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, will host a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” lobby day for repeal supporters on Sept. 16. The fall lobby day, appropriately nicknamed “The Final Assault,” comes at a critical time — after the Senate reconvenes but before the chamber is expected to take up the repeal-inclusive defense authorization bill. Participants can register for lobby day online at ServicemembersUnited.org.

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> GetEQUAL, a national, direct action LGBT civil rights organization, has launched its grassroots “ENDA Summer” campaign. The campaign, designed to target senators and members of congress from several key states, will focus on “pull[ing] out all the stops to get ENDA passed in 2010.” The 2010 target date for passage comes from repeated promises by Democratic House and Senate leadership that a vote on ENDA would be scheduled this year. Recently, GetEQUAL released a timeline showing decades of broken promises and excuses from elected officials that have led to the lack of any federal protections being in place for LGBT workers. The timeline can be viewed in its entirety at getequal.org/endatimeline.

> The anti-gay National Organization for Marriage has lost another court battle in its attempts to keep its donors’ identities hidden. Federal Court Judge D. Brock Hornby in Portland, Maine ruled against NOM by upholding laws requiring organizations engaged in Maine elections to register as political action committees, disclose their independent expenditures and provide disclaimers on campaign ads. NOM is under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to register with the state as a ballot question committee and disclose the donors to its campaign to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009. NOM’s court loss follows similar defeats in Washington state, where the group unsuccessfully fought the state’s public records law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and California, where a federal court rejected NOM’s efforts to hide its donors in the wake of Proposition 8.

> The ACLU of Mississippi has filed a lawsuit against a Mississippi high school that excluded a female student’s name and senior portrait from the yearbook rather than publish a photo of her in a tuxedo. The lawsuit charges that Ceara Sturgis was unfairly discriminated against by the Wesson Attendance Center based on her sex and unfair gender stereotypes. Ceara was an honor student and a member of several sports teams at Wesson, where she attended school from kindergarten through her senior year. At home and at school, she dresses in clothing that is traditionally associated with boys and had previously not encountered any problems from her peers or teachers.

> The National AIDS Fund with support from the Ford Foundation has announced the opportunity for grant support through its Southern REACH grantmaking initiative. The overall goal of the project is to protect and advance the health, human rights and dignity of persons most affected by HIV/AIDS in the Southern U.S. Organizations located in Alabama, Arkansas, Northern Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee are eligible to apply for a Southern REACH grant, which will support strategic HIV/AIDS policy and advocacy activities led by community-based organizations, advocacy coalitions and other allies with public policy and advocacy experience. Successful applicants will receive up to $100,000 in grant support, along with consideration for technical assistance, for a one-year grant period. Visit aidsfund.org for a copy of the request for proposal and application details. Applications are due no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 15.

> After 400,000 surveys about the potential repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were distributed to active duty and reserve troops in July, LGBT rights groups nationwide blasted the project for the methodological bias and the derogatory content within the survey. In late August, they lodged similar complaints against the follow-up survey that went out 150,000 heterosexual military spouses. Community leaders allow that the new survey contains fewer methodological biases than the previous Pentagon survey, but charge that it is even more inherently derogatory toward gay and lesbian Americans. : :

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Posted by David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.