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The health of younger lesbians

Wed 20 Jun 2012 In: Living Well View at Wayback View at NDHA

A PhD researcher is looking for lesbians aged 18-24 to take part in a study about their health and wellbeing, hoping to address a gap in understanding and hopefully contribute to policy to meet their needs. Katie Palmer Du Preez tells us more. What’s the purpose of your research? Despite political gains towards equality for LGBT in New Zealand (e.g. legislation that guarantees non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation) inequality in health and social outcomes persists. New Zealand and international evidence shows us that compared to heterosexual identified women, lesbians experience: higher rates of self-harm and suicide, physical and verbal assault, bullying and victimisation, depression, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, as well as more workplace discrimination and barriers to career progression. Although there are issues, the picture is not all negative! The aim of these interviews is to engage with young lesbians’ own views and experiences around lesbian identity and health and wellbeing. I will be conducting a post structural kind of analysis of young lesbian women’s talk about health and wellbeing in New Zealand (interviews) as well as NZ health policy and historical documents relevant to women’s health and feminism. This study will address a gap in understanding of issues for young lesbian women that has been identified by researchers as well as the Ministry of Health and may contribute to policy which meets the needs of these women more effectively and enhances their health and wellbeing. Who do you need to take part? I would like to talk to young women who live in the Auckland, Wellington or Hamilton areas and who: · are aged 18 to 24 years, · self-identify as lesbian (to themselves not necessarily to others), · are able to converse in English If you decide to take part in this study, this will involve taking part in two one-on-one interviews with me (around a week or so apart). The interviews can take place at AUT Akoranga or City campuses in Auckland or in a suitable quiet and safe place in Hamilton or Wellington. Why is this topic so important? Research shows that women who self‐identify as lesbian can be marginalised by society. Such marginalisation contributes to lesbian women’s lower levels of health and wellbeing and a higher uptake of behaviours that are injurious to health. Little research has been carried out in New Zealand that focuses on young lesbians. Research is needed that will address a gap in our understanding of issues for these women and contributes to policy which meets their needs more effectively and enhance their health and wellbeing. Other possible benefits could be contributing to the opening up of “lesbian space” for young women, and the ability of young lesbian women to connect with others’ experiences in New Zealand. Further info can be found here Why is this topic personally important to you? As a young lesbian, and a social researcher I am interested in teasing apart and questioning the influence of culture and society on our choices, thoughts, feelings and behaviours as well as how particular ideas play out in fields like health policy and practice. My research is specifically guided by feminist, social constructionist, and discursive theory and practice, and so far tends to use qualitative methodologies – I value talking with people and engaging them in the research process and am passionate about issues of equity and representation! If you fit the criteria and would like to take part, email or call her on 09 921 9999 ext 7640. Jacqui Stanford - 20th June 2012    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Wednesday, 20th June 2012 - 11:07am

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