Exploring factors related to firearm violence among LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color in Detroit, Michigan
In the United States (US), gun violence is a major cause of preventable mortality. The presence of guns is associated with increased risk of death since violence whether directed at self or others is more lethal than other means when firearms are used. As a result of the high prevalence of gun violence in the US, there is a high probability that a person’s social network includes a victim of gun violence. LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color experience cyclical, interlocking systems of structural and institutional oppression rooted in racism, heterosexism, and transphobia. Information about the extent that firearms have been used against and by LGBTQ+ youth and young adults to inflict harm on self or others is currently lacking. Notably, information about sexual orientation and gender identity is not collected on death certificates, nor in most public systems and registries that track injury. These gaps limit existing knowledge about the extent and characteristics of gun violence and firearm injuries experienced by LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color and inhibit efforts to integrate LGBTQ+ youth of color in firearm injury prevention efforts.
Driven by our formative work with LGBTQ+ people of color in Detroit, we propose to fill gaps in understanding by identifying the specific structural, social, organizational, and psychological factors that may influence gun violence and firearm injury prevention efforts among LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color in Detroit with the following specific aims:
Aim 1: Identify the oppressive structural, social, organizational, and psychological factors that contribute to gun violence and firearm injury, inclusive of suicide, among LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color in Detroit.
Aim 2: Pilot test standard measures utilized to assess firearm exposure among youth and young adults and assess need for adaptation for use with this population.
Aim 3: Identify potential strategies to improve data collection about LGBTQ+ gun violence and firearm injury.
To address these aims, we will gather qualitative and quantitative data from three sources: a) LGBTQ+ youth and young adults of color in Detroit (Aims 1 and 2); b) medical, behavioral and social service providers currently serving LGBTQ+ youth and young adults (Aims 1, 2, and 3); c) organization leaders who serve LGBTQ+ communities, including those that address homicides and violence committed against the LGBTQ+ community in Detroit (Aims 1, 2, and 3).
The proposed study will capitalize on the strengths of our ongoing community partnerships in Detroit, including Ruth Ellis Center, Corktown Health Center, Fair Michigan Foundation, Trans Sistas of Color Project, and Nuii-Waav Brotherhood. Together, these data will help to further our program of research designed to address cycles of racism, heterosexism, transphobia, structural vulnerabilities, and health inequities and enhance existing community approaches aimed to alleviate injustices experienced by LGBTQ+ people of color.