WHAT’S YOUR ISSUE? is a national participatory action research project designed with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and gender nonconforming (LGBTQ & GNC) youth to document the dreams, desires, and priorities of LGBTQ & GNC youth. We are organized around the belief that LGBTQ & GNC youth have the right to research the conditions of their own lives and set a self-determined agenda. WHAT’S YOUR ISSUE? brings together LGBTQ and GNC youth, adults, academics, artists, and organizers as co-researchers to lift the key issues facing LGBTQ & GNC youth from the ground up.

Through a National Survey and 10 local Community Portrait projects, the research will document vibrant and creative lives of LGBTQ & GNC youth as well as the intersecting ways racism, sexism, homophobia, cisgenderism, ableism, and capitalism shape LGBTQ and GNC youth experiences. A multi-generational National Advisory Board comprised of LGBTQ & GNC youth and adults from policy, research, advocacy, the arts, and the Public Science Project is advising the two-year project.

The results of the National Survey and the Community Portrait projects will be shared on this website as well as with local communities, local and national organizers, educators, and policy-makers.

WHAT’S YOUR ISSUE? is a Public Science Project. Based at the City University of New York Graduate Center, the Public Science Project (PSP) is dedicated to conducting research for a just world. For nearly 20 years we have been collaborating with communities to design and implement participatory research that investigates, speaks back to, and reimagines structural injustice. For more information visit: www.publicscienceproject.org.

The PSP CUNY-based research team includes:

María Elena Torre (Co-PI) is the founding Director of The Public Science Project and faculty member in Critical Psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has been engaged in critical participatory action research projects nationally and internationally with schools, prisons, and community-based organizations seeking to further social justice for over 15 years. Her work introduced the concept of ‘participatory contact zones’ to collaborative research, and she continues to be interested in how democratic methodologies, radical inclusion, and notions of solidarity impact scientific inquiry. She is a co-author of Echoes of Brown: Youth Documenting and Performing the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education and Changing Minds: The Impact of College on a Maximum Security Prison. Her writing can also be found in volumes such as the Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology, the Handbook of Action Research, and in journals such as Feminism and Psychology, the Journal of Social Issues, Qualitative Inquiry, and the Journal of Critical Psychology. María is on the national board of the National Latino/a Education Research and is presently serving on Mayor de Blasio’s Taskforce on School Climate.

Michelle Fine (Co-PI) is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Urban Education and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Chair of Social/Personality Psychology program.  Her recent awards include the 2011 Kurt Lewin award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the 2010 Higher Education and Criminal Justice award from the College and Community Fellowship, the 2008 Social Justice Award from the Cross Cultural Roundtable at Teachers College, Columbia University, the 2005 First Morton Deutsch Social Justice Scholar Award from Columbia University, and the 2001 Carolyn Sherif Award from APA. For 20 years she has been involved in a rich set of participatory action research projects focused on circuits of dispossession and resistance in schools, communities, and prisons.  These projects seek to produce public science for social change through legislation, critical social theory, and popular mobilization for educational justice.

David M. Frost is a social psychologist whose work sits at the intersections of close relationships, stress, sexuality, and health. His primary line of research focuses on how stigma, prejudice, and discrimination constitute minority stress and, as a result, affect the health and well-being of marginalized individuals. He also studies how couples psychologically experience intimacy within long-term romantic relationships and how their experience of intimacy affects their health. He has combined these two lines of research within recent projects examining same-sex couples’ experiences of stigmatization and the resulting impact on their relational, sexual, and mental health. This work has been recognized by grants and awards from the National Institutes of Health, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the New York Academy of Sciences. At Columbia, Dr. Frost teaches courses in the areas of sexuality and reproductive health, LGBT health, research methods and data analysis.

Allison Cabana is a graduate student in the Critical Social/Personality Psychology program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research focuses on intersections of identity categories, the questioning of those categories, and the ways academia can intersect with social justice work. She works with the Public Science Project at the Graduate Center and is enthusiastically engaging participatory research. She believes in the knowledge people hold within them and in questioning the conventional notions of knowledge within research and the academy.

Emerson Brisbon believes that change is most successful when lead by the people most impacted and is dedicated to sharing their skills and knowledge to build community power. They have been organizing since high school and have lead and engaged in leadership development with young people of color for over a decade. For over 5 years, they served as Leadership Development Director at FIERCE, a membership-based organization for LGBTQ youth of color. They have worked with organizations such as SOUL, the Audre Lorde Project, presented at conferences across the country and currently are the Admin Coordinator at Training for Change. Outside of organizing work, they are an herbal apprentice, committed to the medicinal uses of plants to support the health and healing of our communities and own a photography business called Another World Photography.

We are grateful to Kyle Rapiñan,Ejeris Dixon, Liz Carlin, Mekhi Baldwin, Samy Galvez, Julieta Salgado, Alex Melnick, and to the hundreds of LGBTQ & GNC youth around the country that helped create the What’s Your Issue? survey!