Methods: Culled from focus groups and client files, three examples of research approaches with MSMY will be described: (1) the collection and analysis of sexual orientation and gender identity data; (2) youth engagement in research through the formation of a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and (3) the development of partnerships with community based organizations to develop a shared research agenda. The strengths and limitations of such approaches will be discussed. With the assistance of Atlas-Ti, qualitative data was analyzed for themes using content analysis and with multiple coders enhancing trustworthiness. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS to generate frequencies and descriptive data.
Results: Despite twenty-five options generated from consultation with the YAB, MSMY (n= 605) self-identified using the classical taxonomy of lesbian (36%), gay (25%), and bisexual (27%), with very few using queer (3%) or questioning (2%) or other (6%). Themes regarding youth engagement in research included: (a) “I felt I could make a difference”, (b) “research is fun”, and (c) “I liked being asked”. A survey of agency staff found that 95% felt “research was worthwhile”.
Conclusion and Implications: (1) Our somewhat surprising findings concerning identity classification suggest that this supposed shift in the negotiation and categorization of sexual identity may not be occurring for MSMY. Possible reasons for these dissimilarities, including geographic, cultural and socio-demographic factors will be discussed and research implications explored. This is particularly important as MSMY may be at increased risk of negative outcomes as a result of their dual-minority identity status. (2) Our findings further highlight the importance of youth engagement in such research efforts and specific strategies for inclusion will be described. (3) Finally, novel research collaborations based on existing program efforts should be encouraged to truly produce research that makes a difference.