Pride flags hang above MacEwan University's Welcome Centre in Building 7.

Eradicating social inequalities through LGBTQ2S+ research

July 6, 2020 | Society

Dorothy Reynolds wants the world to be a more accepting place. The sociology major has always been interested in human rights issues, but when she took SOCI 301: Sociology of Gender and Sexuality, she began to gain a clearer picture of the abuses and marginalization experienced by members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

According to a 2017 study by GLAAD, 20 per cent of millennials identified as LGBTQ2S+, and may be the largest growing minority group in North America. "I feel like society needs to be ready for this growth in an inclusive and caring way," she says. "Everyone should have the right to live their truth out in the open, without fear, guilt or shame. LGBTQ2S+ rights are human rights."

Title of works: "Challenges and support for LGBTQ+ at-risk youth" and “Examining the ways that people with personal connections to LGBTQ2S+ people speak about them"

What inspired this research?

"As a parent of children who are LGBTQ2S+ and having watched how our relatives and other individuals had reacted to the news when my children came out to them, I had a theory that having someone in your life who identifies that way changes not only how you feel about those in that community, but also how you interact with, talk about and treat others who are LGBTQ2S+," says Dorothy.

About the research

In "Challenges and Support for LGBTQ+ At-Risk Youth" (under the supervision of Dr. Michael Gulayets and published in Crossing Borders: Student Reflections on Global Social Issues), Dorothy's research looked at the processes and programs in place for at-risk LGBTQ2S+ in Edmonton and Lviv, Ukraine.

"In Edmonton, for places like Boyle Street and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), there are very few if any programs in place specifically for those who are LGBTQ2S+, but all said they realized that they could do better and were trying to do so," she says.

In 2019, Dorothy took part in the Sociological Field School (SOCI 395) course in Lviv, where she found the people in service areas for at-risk youth were reluctant to admit they helped people who were LGBTQ2S+, let alone admit there were specific programs available.

"I got a psychologist to talk, but he admitted that due to the hold that religion has on the country, most people will not even admit they are LGBTQ2S+ for fear of abandonment, violence and even being murdered."

Gulayets was impressed that his field school students were dedicated to their subject matter and didn't shy away from asking tough questions. "Dorothy was incredibly dedicated to her research and has a strong interest in this area. She has a personal passion to see supports and connections for youth being built."

In a separate project (“Examining the ways that people with personal connections to LGBTQ2S+ people speak about them," under the faculty supervision of Dr. Kalyani Thurairajah) Dorothy looked at the close, personal ties people had to others in the LGBTQ2S+ community.

"Dorothy chose a topic that she was personally interested in — not only because of her own personal connections to the LGBTQ2S+ community, but also due to her being a sociology student who has shown tremendous commitment to studying (and helping to eradicate) social inequalities," says Thurairajah, assistant professor in sociology.

In this project, Dorothy was surprised that religion was not mentioned at all. "Politics were only mentioned because we asked about them specifically," she says. "Otherwise I am not sure they would have been mentioned either."



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