There are pros and cons to owning a pet as a marginalized individual.
- Since 2018, an ongoing study at the VCU School of Social Work has been analyzing the way pets impact the lives of young LGBTQ individuals.
- From animal-assisted therapy practices to having therapy dogs in schools to reduce anxiety, there are many mental health benefits to animal-human interactions.
- While the majority of current research is being focused on people who are not discriminated against or marginalized by society, this specific study could bring more clarity to how pets positively and negatively impact the lives of young LGBTQ people.
Does human-animal interaction impact a person’s experience and well-being?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwOTk3MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzIwNTMzM30.Ds_HSw-0zhZF5YeR89_wjGHIxxFX5_mEwOaJXKXvSQ4/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C103%2C0%2C1&height=700" id="062fe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="178f39b7a1684e0e36195bcd14d9cdef" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="two women standing in front of the golden gate bridge with their dog" />
From animal-assisted therapies to having dogs visit schools to bring down stress and anxiety levels, there have been many studies that look at the benefits of pet ownership.
Photo by Joshua Resnick on Shutterstock<p>Absolutely. Over the years, many studies have proven the benefits of human-animal interactions. From <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4248608/#:~:text=Studies%20on%20the%20use%20of%20animals%20on%20blood%20pressure.,pressure%20and%20greater%20physical%20activity." target="_blank">animal-assisted therapy practices</a> to having <a href="https://theconversation.com/therapy-dogs-can-help-reduce-student-stress-anxiety-and-improve-school-attendance-93073" target="_blank">therapy dogs in schools to reduce anxiety</a> - there are many mental health benefits to animal-human interactions.</p><p><strong>A similar study has been done on the impact of pets in the lives of older LGBT individuals. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6027597/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A different 2018 study</a> explored the role of pets in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults over the age of 50. </p><p>This particular study addressed the following questions: </p><ol><li>How does living with a pet impact perceived social support and social network size? </li><li>How do LGBT older adults describe the meaning of pets in their lives? </li></ol><p>In this study, over 59 percent of participants reported that they have pets and described them in affectionate terms, often referring to them as family. Many individuals classified their pets as "supportive" either by offering companionship or keeping them active and socializing. Many participants explained that their pets help them cope with some form of physical or mental health condition. </p><p><strong>How is this study different?</strong></p><p>The goal of this particular study is to focus on the younger LGBTQ population and to examine how human-animal interactions might impact a person's experience and well-being when faced with victimization over their sexual orientation or identity. Not only that, but this study takes a look at both the positive and negative impacts of having a pet as an LGBTQ individual. </p><p>The vast majority of current research focuses on people who are not discriminated against or marginalized by society. According to the researchers, pets may lead marginalized people to "a path of financial stress and housing instability," which are issues the LGBTQ community already struggles with.</p><p>"Pets can better people's lives," Richards <a href="https://commonwealthtimes.org/2020/09/02/study-probes-relationship-between-lgbt-youth-pets/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">explains to Commonwealth Times</a>, "but it's also been interesting to see the ways in which pets can be stressors for people experiencing homelessness and financial insecurity."</p><p>Shelby McDonald, one of the lead associate professors on the study, has <a href="https://commonwealthtimes.org/2020/09/02/study-probes-relationship-between-lgbt-youth-pets/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dedicated the last decade of her</a> life to researching the role of animals in the lives of children and has recently turned that focus toward LGBTQ youth. </p><p>As of September 2, the researchers have conducted 164 initial interviews. O'Ryan, one of the student researchers, explains: "We've collected a pretty diverse bunch, but the participants we interviewed have been largely white, cisgender, bisexual women. I wish we had the chance to interview more people of color and more people from diverse gender identities."</p><p>For more information on the study or a change to join as a participant, email email@example.com.</p>
Sexuality is fluid and it's important that people get to define it for themselves.
- Sexuality is fluid and ever-changing, and our understanding of it has come a long way since the invention of the Kinsey Scale in the 1940's.
- Defining your own sexuality is important as it is a uniquely personal experience.
- While creating labels for yourself can help you better understand your orientation and build connections along your sexual journey, it's important not to place labels on others. Be open to hearing how they see themselves and respectful enough to refer to them on those terms.
Defining lesser-known orientations along the spectrum<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzE2OTIwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTYxNzk5Mn0.NF95JhhXPcLdT5k6fMP54AQYvFdZiPK3aVQ90Wa9g0o/img.png?width=980" id="bfd51" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5d68bd6890a288fd97a3fb5e6724c78d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Unofficial Kinsey Scale test (an official test does not exist, according to the Kinsey Institute)
The separation of church and state is being dismantled one bill at a time.
- Project Blitz, a coalition of Christian right groups founded by former Republican congressman, Randy Forbes, began as a way to introduce pro-Christian legislation.
- Bills include faith-based adoption discrimination and mandating that public schools use "In God We Trust" on signage.
- This year, 226 pieces of anti-transgender legislation, many backed by The Blitz, have been introduced.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, left, and Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., talk before the start of the House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the United States Department of Homeland Security" on Thursday, May 29, 2014.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call<p>The Blitz's signature tactic, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBtd7D2uilk" target="_blank">according to</a> Rachel Laser, the president of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, is to start small with signage in public places. Ascending levels of religiosity follow, such as denying homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexuals. The ultimate goal, she says, is to codify Christian principles into the American government. </p><p>The First Amendment, Laser continues, does not allow you to play favorites. You cannot favor the agendas of a particular religion over others. That goes directly against the separation of church and state. </p><p>The Blitz has no intention of slowing down. The current administration appears particularly willing to cater to bills being pushed forward by CPCF and related organizations. For example, <a href="https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2020/02/21/iowa-legislators-are-considering-nine-bills-promoting-christian-nationalism/" target="_blank">right now</a> there are nine Blitz-backed bills being considered in Iowa. These include putting mottos like "In God We Trust" and "endowed by their Creator" in every public school throughout the state. Meanwhile, Blitz-backed anti-transgender proposals <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/25/new-kind-anti-trans-legislation-is-hitting-red-states/" target="_blank">were or are being</a> introduced in ten states. </p><p>Project Blitz is part of a very long game: to so familiarize the American public with debates over signage that we fail to recognize that the goalposts are constantly being moved. As Princeton history professor, Kevin Kruse, writes in his book, "One Nation Under God," "touchstones of religious nationalism have only become more deeply lodged in American political culture over time, as the innovations of one generation became familiar traditions for the next." What is first presented as innocuous, commonsense even, can soon transform a nation. The gap implied by "separation" is closed by inches, not miles. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is "</em><em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Discrimination is up across the board.
- A new poll by PPRI found that nearly a quarter of Americans say it's okay to not serve atheists on religious grounds.
- The pro-discrimination number was even higher regarding gays and lesbians.
- Bias against Jews, Muslims, and African Americans is also increasing.
Image source: Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images<p><strong>Jews</strong></p><p>Antisemitism is a growing concern in our world. While it has always been a problem (as thousands of years of texts describe), you'd think we would have learned the lesson we needed eighty years ago. Not the case. </p><p>Discriminating against Jews is up seven percent since 2014, landing at 19 percent this year. The charge is once again led by Republicans at 24 percent, followed by Democrats at 17 percent. Independents clocked in one point behind Democrats. </p><p><strong>Muslims</strong></p><p>Muslims were also not included in the 2014 poll. In 2019, they were slightly less biased against than atheists, slightly more than Jews, landing at 22 percent. As with every other category in this poll, men were more likely to favor discrimination than women (25 versus 20 percent), while 32 percent of Republicans, 20 percent of Independents, and 14 percent of Democrats are in favor of not serving them if the business owner felt that okay. </p><p><strong>African Americans</strong></p><p>Of all the groups polled, it might bring a certain sense of comfort that African Americans were the least discriminated against group, as this is the only category based purely on race. That said, like the other trend lines, we have a lot of work to do. Favor of discriminating against blacks rose 50 percent, from 10 percent to 15 percent in 2019. The biggest leap in bias occurred amongst white evangelical Protestants, up from 8 percent in 2014 to 22 percent this year. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p>
Many of us don't fit perfectly into existing social narratives. But we can still find our own way.
- Many of us are trying to fit into existing roles that aren't specially crafted for us, and, as a result, we don't fit perfectly in them. This causes us a lot of stress and anxiety.
- Though many people aren't transgender, they can still relate to the feeling of not completely fitting in, and having to figure out their own path. Often finding our own way directly overlaps with figuring out what makes us happy.
- When someone is trans, it is possible for them to feel attracted to either gender. For example, Breanna wishes she could tell her teenage self that it is possible to "be a girl and like girls."