LGBTQ+ Youths’ Community Engagement and Resource Seeking Online versus Offline: An Interview with Dr. Lauren McInroy
Author: Jimmy A. Young, PhD
In this month’s episode I interview Dr. Lauren McInroy and discuss the article “LGBTQ+ Youths’ Community Engagement and Resource Seeking Online versus Offline,” which was published in the Journal of Technology in Human Services in 2019 with coauthors Dr. Rebecca J. McCloskey, Shelley L. Craig, and Andrew D. Eaton. Dr. McInroy is an Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University. Her research examines the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and/or gender minority adolescents and emerging adults. She explores how LGBTQ+ youth build supportive communities, engage in identity development activities, and foster resilience and well-being using ICTs. Dr. McInroy also has expertise in innovating with ICTs in social work research, education, and practice. Her work includes adapting arts-based methods for digital data collection, integrating experiential learning and simulation into online education, and implementing/evaluating digital interventions. More information about Dr. McInroy can be found on her website at https://www.laurenmcinroy.com/.
We begin with a discussion of the paper but quickly move into other challenges and opportunities facing LGBTQ+ youth and how online spaces may hold the potential for being a safer space and resource then in real life. I appreciated how Dr. McInroy explained that often adults’ presupposition is that the offline real-world environment is healthier and safer, which just is not a universal truth for everyone, and especially LGBTQ+ Youth. We talked about how digital spaces afford young people in rural areas access to resources and support they might not otherwise have in their community. We talked about online communities and resources like Project Youth Affirm and Q Chat Space, which Dr. McInroy is involved with, and the amazing work these organizations are doing to address mental health challenges and other issues among this population. These online spaces act almost like a digital drop-in center where LGBTQ+ Youth can chat with others. I also appreciated how Dr. McInroy mentioned that these spaces provide community because often the interventions are group based.
We ended the interview by talking about some challenges related to social workers and other helping professionals moving into the online space to provide services and raise awareness. Dr. McInroy mentioned several things like funding, technical skills, and technical knowledge but also highlighted the importance of social work education integrating more digital literacies and technological components into the curriculum. She highlighted challenges with state and international licensing laws, and I fully agree with Dr. McInroy when she says that the licensure system across states was developed pre-internet and really does not match how we live in our contemporary society where people move, travel, etc. into other physical spaces. The final points that Dr. McInroy makes include a call to our discipline to address the issue of Digital Justice and other social justice issues as they transcend technology. This really is the next frontier of technology in social work, and we need to pay more attention.
As usual, I want to note that these blog posts are mainly place holders for any links and information that we thought would be good to share with our audience. The Posts will eventually also be home to the episode transcripts. We welcome any digital volunteers who would like to transcribe the episodes and if you feel so inclined, please reach out to us via our Contact page or on social media. Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. See you next month.
Links of Interest:
Dr. Lauren McInroy on Twitter @LaurenMcInroy
Dr. Lauren McInroy’s website https://www.laurenmcinroy.com/
Project Youth Affirm https://www.projectyouthaffirm.org/
Q Chat Space https://www.qchatspace.org/
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APA (7th Ed) citation for this podcast:
Young, J. A. (Producer). (2021, August 6). #9 – LGBTQ+ Youths’ Community Engagement and Resource Seeking Online versus Offline: An Interview with Dr. Lauren McInroy. [Audio Podcast]. husITa Podcast. Retrieved from https://husita.podbean.com/e/lgbtq-youths-community-engagement-resource-seeking-online-versus-offline-an-interview-with-dr-lauren-mcinroy/