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Project COPES

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Project Coming Out: Personal Experiences and Support (Project COPES) is our current research project at the University of Miami, in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology. The project is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Our research is dedicated to learning about parental reactions, and child and family well-being in families with LGB youth.

Families with a LGB youth are a special group that face unique challenges in our society. The impressive ways families deal with these challenges are important to understand. Project COPES seeks to give a voice to these families and hear from youth and their parents about how they negotiate family relationships and personal growth and development when a teen or young adult comes out to the family.

Some of the questions we are trying to answer include:

  • Does religious conflict affect LGB identity?
  • Do experiences differ between gay male and lesbian youth? Gay and bisexual youth? Youth from different ethnic backgrounds?
  • What factors are related to parent acceptance and support?
  • How can we improve mental health and family functioning for families with LGB youth?
  • What factors are related to romantic relationships for LGB youth, and how are they important?

It is not always easy for parents to hear that their child is gay, lesbian or bisexual and it is usually not easy for children to disclose this information to their parents. Even if it is something that parents are very comfortable with as a concept, it is normal for parents to worry about what this will mean for their child. In our research project, we ask parents about what it means to them for their child to "come out" as LGB and how parents cope when this happens. We also ask adolescents and young adults about their experience of coming out to their parents. One of the goals of the project is to learn from families experiences so that we can develop effective therapy services in the future to help strengthen family relationships when a child discloses a LGB sexual orientation.

Although we are currently not looking for any more participants for this study, you can get involved by sharing your story with us. Otherwise, email us and we will contact you for our next research project!

Project Findings

Most of our participants are from South Florida, although participants also hail from Washington DC, Maryland, and even South Africa! We have participants born in Cuba, Hondoras, Venezuala, Haiti, St. Thomas, Panama, and Peru! Other participants are from Vermont, California, Georgia, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington.

Project Findings

Project COPES, a research endeavor of The Coming Out Project, is a large, longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development (R01 HD055372-01A2). The total award was over 1 million dollars and the project was funded from September 2008-August 2012. Neena M. Malik is the Primary Investigator on the project and Kristin M. Lindahl is Co-Principal Investigator.

University of Miami Department of Psychology ComingOut