Farmer’s Market Vouchers May Boost Produce Consumption in Low-Income Families Finds Study Led by Carolyn Dimitri

Vouchers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets increase the amount of produce in the diets of some families on food assistance, according to research led by Carolyn Dimitri, an associate professor in Steinhardt’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Heath.

The study, which appears online in Food Policy, suggests that farmers market vouchers can be useful tools in improving access to healthy food.  This finding validates a new program created by the Agricultural Act of 2014, or farm bill, that incentivizes low-income families to buy produce at farmers markets.

“In terms of healthy food options, farmers market incentives may be able to bring a low-income person onto the same playing field as those with greater means,” said Dimitri, the study’s lead author.

Economically disadvantaged families tend to consume diets low in fruits and vegetables, partially due to poor access to healthy food and their inability to pay for it. Farmers markets may help fill in gaps in communities commonly referred to as “food deserts,” which lack access to fresh, healthy food.

One in four farmer’s markets in the U.S. accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps. In recent years, several local governments and nonprofit organizations have augmented federal food assistance by offering vouchers to use at farmers markets. The vouchers increase the value of food assistance when used to buy fruits and vegetables at markets.

While most food assistance programs fail to address nutritional quality  – for instance, SNAP benefits can be used to buy ice cream and soda – farmers market incentives can only be used on fresh produce, increasing their potential to improve consumers’ diets.

To assess the effect of farmers market incentives on those receiving food assistance, Dimitri and her colleagues enrolled 281 economically disadvantaged women in their study, recruiting participants at five farmers markets in New York, San Diego and Boston. The women were all caring for young children and received federal food assistance through SNAP or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The researchers collected demographic information and surveyed the participants throughout the 12-16 week study to learn about their food shopping habits and fresh vegetable consumption. Each time participants shopped at the farmers market, they received up to $10 in vouchers to be used toward purchasing fruits and vegetables. The women matched the amount of the farmers market vouchers with cash or federal food benefits.

Despite incentives, retaining participants was a challenge, suggesting that factors other than incentives influence farmers market shopping habits. A total of 138 participants completed the study, which is consistent with retention rates for similar studies. Women who were older, visited food banks and lived in “food deserts” were the most likely to drop out of the study.

For those who completed the study, more than half reported consuming vegetables more frequently at the end of the study. Participants with low levels of education and those who consumed little fresh produce at the beginning of the study were the most likely to increase the amount of produce in their diets.

“Our food choices are very complex, and issues with food security won’t be solved with a single program,” Dimitri said. “Even though not all participants increased their consumption of produce, our study suggests that nutrition incentives are a promising option that can help economically disadvantaged families eat healthier diets.”

Additional research is needed to understand why produce consumption did not increase among nearly half of the participants, despite their increased purchasing power, and determine what measures can be taken to engage the vulnerable group that dropped out of the study.

While farmers markets are good sources of healthy food, the researchers noted that relying on them exclusively for food security is problematic, as markets are usually open on limited days and closed in the winter.

Dimitri’s co-authors in the study are Lydia Oberholtzer of Penn State; Michelle Zive of University of California, San Diego School of Medicine; and Cristina Sandolo of the Wholesome Wave Foundation. The data collection was funded by Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization working to improve affordability and access to fresh, locally grown food.

Photo:  Vouchers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets increase the amount of produce in the diets of some families on food assistance, according to research led by Carolyn Dimitri of NYU Steinhardt. © benstevens/iStock

 

Looking for Shakespeare: A Summer Camp for Thespians, Literati, and Aspiring Actors

Teenagers from across the country took part in Looking for Shakespeare, a summer arts program.

Slow down, people,” director Jonathan Jones implored his young cast during a recent rehearsal in Pless Hall’s Black Box Theatre. The adolescent actors—seventeen 13- to-18-year olds selected by audition to participate in Steinhardt’s annual Looking for Shakespeare workshop—had just finished an energetic run-through of the second act of Twelfth Night, which they’ll be performing July 24-26.

That’s the play is about a pair of twins who, having been separated in a shipwreck, find themselves embroiled in intertwining love plots built around some cases of cross-dressing and mistaken identity.  Its second act is the source of the often-quoted line: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

In this run there’d been a few hiccups—a dropped line here, a missed cue there, and some confusion over the best method for peering out from behind a piece of scenery—but with more than a week left to polish scenes, the precocious thespians had soldiered on with poise and élan befitting veteran performers.

Over the course of this four-week program each summer, an ensemble made of theatrically inclined teenagers from all over the country (and sometimes the world) work with a director and a dramaturg to develop an original Shakespeare production. This year’s Twelfth Night is a musical adaptation with vaudeville-inspired song-and-dance numbers.

When, after giving notes on Act II, Jones and a team of Steinhardt graduate students took some of the cast aside to work on fight choreography,  NYU Stories interviewed three actors to find out about the work that goes into putting up a five-act Elizabethan comedy in just four weeks. Here’s what Liam, 13 (who plays Feste, the clown), Esther, 16 (Maria), and Lauren, 15 (Valentine), had to say about getting into a role—and what real-life teenage romance taught them about Shakespeare.


Liam, 13

What was going on in Act II?

Liam: Why are you all looking at me to answer this? [laughs] The most vital thing that happens is that Maria convinces everyone who goes to Olivia’s house to get drunk and write a letter to fool Malvolio into thinking that Olivia loves him. And in the end Malvolio reads the letter and agrees to do all these ridiculous things.

What have you been doing to get into character?

Lauren: First, our grad students let us break down each of our lines from Shakespeare so that we really understand them. Then they want us to put the character in our shoes. We actually had two people from Broadway come in here and they said as humans we all have all these different sides to us. And acting is really just exploring each of those sides.

Liam: For the physicality of the characters, you can’t just walk on stage like a regular person. No one wants to see you; they want to see your character. So we try to think about how this person would walk. What face would they put on? How do they present themselves?

What do you make of all the cross-dressing in Twelfth Night?

Liam: The point is that sometimes you have to change yourself to get what you want. In Viola’s case it didn’t work out at all, but she thought that she would have had to change herself to suit Orsino.

Esther, 16

Is it tough to keep Shakespeare’s lines straight in your head?

Esther: Not really—I have a slight obsession with Shakespeare. I really love the language, so I don’t have too much more difficulty with it than I would with a normal text.

Liam: I think the hardest part about Shakespeare is trying to internalize it. My director told me a long time ago when he was prepping me for the audition here that you have to understand what’s going on almost in a cartoony way, and understand that your character is actually speaking what for him is regular language.

Lauren: Yeah, if at first you don’t understand what you’re saying, it’s like, how am I supposed to memorize this if I don’t even know what it means?

So if not the language, what is the toughest part about doing this play?

Lauren: Well, we have full-on musical numbers, which is pretty unusual for Shakespeare—not just at the big happy wedding scenes, but all throughout!

Lauren, 15

Esther: Right. Doing Shakespeare is a lot of work. Doing a musical is a lot of work. So doing a musical that’s Shakespeare is a TON of work. Trying to incorporate the music for a lot of kids who came into this not really expecting to do music is pretty difficult.

Liam: Yes. Everyone sings!

Is there anything in Twelfth Night that you’ve been able to connect to your own personal experiences?


Lauren: Oh, definitely the drama aspect.

Esther: Yes, there’s a lot of drama.

Lauren: Like with the boys and the girls and the crushes—

Esther: And who likes who, and “tell me what he said, and oh my god go give him this”—

Lauren: And the popular girl is always like “oh, I don’t want anybody”—

Esther: And the guy is like, “Yo, dude, go tell her I like her. But don’t say that I said I like her, but say I maybe like her and see if she responds….”

Liam: Basically, it’s middle school.

This article first appeared in NYU Stories and was written by Eileen Reynolds.

 

David Kirkland’s Book on the Literacy of Young Black Men Wins NCTE Award

A Search Past Silence: The Literacy of Young Black Men (Teachers College Press, 2013) by David Kirkland has been awarded the David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English from the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE).

In his book, Kirkland, an associate professor of English education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, examines how the identities of young men are shaped by silence on issues surrounding language, race, and masculinity.

Kirkland argues that educators need to understand the social worlds of African-American males to break the school-to-prison pipeline cycle.  The book asks the education community to listen to the voices of black youth to better understand what it means to be literate in a multicultural, democratic society.

Established in 1963 as the Distinguished Research Award and renamed in 1966 to honor the Council’s late president, the David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English honors an outstanding work of scholarship or research in language, literature, rhetoric, or pedagogy and learning, published during the previous five years.

 

 

Inside Books: Temperament-Based Elementary Classroom Management By Sandee Graham McClowry

“Understanding how children differ in temperament can help teachers to support their academic and social-emotional developments,” writes Sandee Graham McClowry in her new book, Temperament-Based Elementary Classroom Management  (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).

McClowry, a professor in Steinhardt’s Department of Applied Psychology, is the creator of INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament, a classroom intervention program, and the principal investigator of the three federally funded studies that tested its effectiveness.

In Temperament-Based Elementary Classroom Management, the author asserts that teachers need to incorporate knowledge about temperament into their strategies for classroom management.  She illustrates how targeted temperament-based strategies succeed where other disciplinary practices have failed.

 

 

 

An Interview with Leanne Brown (MA ’14), Author of ‘Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day’

Imagine an elegant cookbook for those who aren’t sure how they’ll pay for their next meal. It sounds impractical, but this was just the idea that seized Leanne Brown as she began work on her final project for Steinhardt’s master’s in food studies.

Gourmet cuisine might seem a stretch for cooks eating on just $4 day, and yet Brown wondered if she could devise healthful, appealing recipes that could fit within that tight budget, one familiar to the 46 million Americans receiving food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Using only ingredients available in grocery stores in the low-income Inwood section of Upper Manhattan, she developed Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day.

Far from a dreary lineup of instant noodles and canned beans, Good and Cheap offers upbeat instructions for efficiently stocking a pantry, novel ideas for dressing up staples (including 6 ways to eat oatmeal and 8 popcorn toppings), and recipes that vary in taste and complexity—from Brussels sprout hash and eggs to broccoli rabe and mozzarella calzones. Festive color photographs—a leaning tower of pretty sandwiches, a roast chicken, lightly browned—not only whet the appetite, but also give the novice cook a model to emulate for each recipe. Brown took the pictures herself in her home kitchen.

And the best part? It’s free—anyone can obtain Good and Cheap as a PDF for no cost, and word has spread quickly. Merely one week after Brown first posted the cookbook online, it had been downloaded 90,000 times; since then the tally has passed 200,000. She’s also raised funds to print copies to be distributed by non-profits serving low-income families—organizations can apply to receive the book through a link on her website. Brown’s project has garnered the attention of food world giants like Mark Bittman and Ted Allen, and she’s spoken about it on public radio and Bloomberg TV and even hosted an “Ask Me Anything” thread on Reddit.

Brown recently took a break from answering emails from hundreds of grateful home cooks to offer NYU Stories some advice on making tasty, nutritious meals for pennies. Her thrifty recommendations, along with recipes for a seasonal summer main course and cooling dessert, appear below. Bon appétit!

—Eileen Reynolds, NYU Stories

Leanne Brown’s Guide to Eating Well for Less

Think more veggies, less meat.
It’s generally cheaper and it’s a more sustainable way to eat. The usual American diet has a big piece of meat at the center of the plate, but that’s not healthy, and it’s certainly not economically sensible. I didn’t want to make a vegetarian cookbook because a lot of people see “vegetarian” and close their mind. In my book I have a few meat dishes that are appealing and wonderful—but I think meat should be a special treat, rather than something you absolutely have to have at every meal.

Splurge on organic eggs.
You can buy a dozen regular eggs, sometimes for as much as $1.50 or $2—but given the issues with salmonella they’re sometimes not as safe, and in my opinion they taste like nothing. And then of course there are troubling moral issues around the way chickens are treated in giant egg factories. So for me it’s very important to pay $4 for organic eggs. I get very tasty eggs, safer eggs, and eggs where I know that the chickens have not lived utterly miserable lives. Sure, it’s double the price. But the price per egg is still less than 50 cents, which is incredibly good in terms of food value, especially when you think of how much added enjoyment you’ll get out of it.

Build your spice collection gradually.
At four bucks a jar, you’re not going to get there quickly. At the beginning of each month, make a plan—think generally about what you’re going to be eating and choose a few investment items. Start by getting a jar of peppercorns and a grinder. Then move on to some chili flakes, which are one of the cheaper spices—maybe $2 for a jar that will last about a year. Next, add one of the common spices that are used in a variety of cuisines, like cumin, which turns up in a lot of Mexican and South American cuisines and is also very important in Indian cooking and curries. These investment items are worth it because then you can buy the cheapest staples like lentils and beans and rice and grains and you can get them to taste so satisfying.

Buy real butter.
In many supermarkets in poor neighborhoods, butter is expensive and there are many types of margarine—I think because there’s a sense on the part of the grocers that people just want the “cheap stuff.” But butter is irreplaceable. If you melt a pat of margarine in a bowl of pasta, you’ll get texture, but you’re not going to get any flavor out of it. When you’re on a limited diet, every single thing in your simple dish needs to be good and flavorful. Better to pay slightly more for the real butter and have it make you joyful when you’re eating than to have more of something that doesn’t really bring you the same delight.

Swap Parmesan for Romano.
Romano functions in almost the exact same way as Parmesan, for about half the price. Sure, there might be some serious Italian chefs who’d say, “no, it’s terrible!” But the fact is that Romano is a very nice salty, hard cheese, like Parmesan. It’s just not as popular.

A little elbow grease goes a long way.
I’m a very confident, competent, home cook, and I know the secret that restaurant cooks know: Food in its most raw form is actually really cheap. It’s just the preparing of it that makes it expensive—the skill you put into it. This cookbook isn’t necessarily one many people will go through and cook every single recipe in it. Instead, I wanted to have things that would work for people who are just starting out in the kitchen as well as for people who are quite experienced and want a challenge. The “Big Batch” chapter is filled with these more ambitious recipes—like pierogis, the little Ukrainian/Polish/Russian dumplings.

Don’t forget about party food.
You don’t stop having fun just because you don’t have a lot of money. Holidays are for all to enjoy, and you can budget for a special occasion. For a celebration, consider pulled pork, which takes a lot of time but is really pretty easy—you put it in the oven at night, pull it out in the morning, and it’s done!


Creamy Zucchini Fettuccine

for three—$3.50 total; $1.17/serving

Zucchini and summer squash are so abundant in the summer months. This simple pasta is like a lighter, brighter fettuccine alfredo. It also comes together in no time—the veggies will be ready by the time your pasta is cooked. You’ll love it, I promise.

½ lb fettuccine
4 tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp chili flakes
2 small zucchini, finely diced
1 lemon, zested
¼ cup cream
½ cup Romano or Parmesan, grated
salt and pepper
basil, finely chopped (optional)

Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Salt the water liberally. This is how pasta gets salted, so don’t be shy! Most won’t end up in the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. I prefer my pasta with some bite, so I drain the pasta just before it’s finished so it doesn’t get mushy when I add it to the vegetable pan to cook slightly more.

Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes. Let them sizzle for 30 seconds to a minute, then add the zucchini. Stir the vegetables to coat them. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until some of the water has cooked off and the veggies are tender when stabbed with a fork. Young summer zucchini doesn’t need much cooking. Add the lemon zest. Stir!

Drain the cooked fettuccine and add it to the zucchini pan along with the rest of the butter, the cream, and most of the Romano cheese. Toss the fettuccine around the pan to get everything mixed. Add salt to taste and lots of freshly ground pepper. Top with a bit more cheese and serve immediately.


Fast Melon Sorbet

for four—$2.40 total; $0.60/serving

2 cups frozen melon
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla or lime juice (optional)

 

When you see lovely watermelons, honeydews, and cantaloupes on sale, buy them up. Eat half, then cube and freeze the other half. When you want a quick dessert or smoothie, pull out a bag of frozen melon and whip this up.

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender until just smooth. Don’t blend too much, or the sorbet will become oversoft. Serve immediately or stick it into the freezer to enjoy later.

All photos courtesy of Leanne Brown.

 


 

From NYU Stories: Alex Ruthman, The Pandora Professor

Alex Ruthman

What does Wynton Marsalis have in common with Miley Cyrus? How do you get from Claude Debussy to Kanye West in just six musical steps?

These are the kinds of questions that intrigue Alex Ruthmann, a music education and technology faculty member, who’s a bit like the hip band director you never had: On a given night you might find him at Carnegie Hall to hear the Vienna Philharmonic playing Beethoven’s 9th (he is a French horn player, after all)—but he’s just as likely to rock out to, say, Arc Iris, a new cabaret-pop band from Providence. When asked if he tunes into top-40 radio to help connect with youngsters, the former middle school music teacher looks puzzled. “Oh, often times students are listening way beyond top-40,” he says. “There might be an older brother who’s into some weird sub-genre that they get hooked on, and then that can be something they bring in and we talk about in class.”

Ruthmann aims to close what he calls “the gap between the music that the students are listening to and the music that the teacher feels comfortable teaching.” Rather than simply learning about existing songs, or even creating versions of them in a program like GarageBand, Ruthmann believes that students should be dissecting the actual tracks from music they love—whether it’s the Beatles or Beyonce.

To that end, he’s been working with artists to license the original, multi-track recordings of their hits for educational use. With Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” for example, it’s now possible to peel away the different layers to figure out just what makes the song work. “You can go in and hear Peter’s voice solo,” Ruthmann says, “or hear how the percussion line doesn’t perfectly line up with the bass line—and how that imperfection is what makes the groove.”

As you might guess, Ruthmann is always listening: At home, there’s the Apple TV for streaming, and on the go, he’s ditched earbuds in favor of a nice pair of headphones or, even better, a Bluetooth speaker with batteries that last for fifteen hours. Like any good 21st-century music-technophile, he’s a devotee of Spotify and Pandora, which are powered by algorithms developed by researchers in his own departments at NYU. But Ruthmann admits that, when it comes to discovering new music, a computer makes a poor substitute for that friend who lends you albums or drags you to concerts.

“I grew up in a town of 4,000 in rural Missouri, and we didn’t get MTV,” Ruthmann reflects. “The person who opened music up for me was a high school music teacher who made mixtapes and gave them out to students. He was from the city, and he introduced us to all kinds of stuff.” The old cassettes—filled with everything from the great symphonies to ’80s new wave—now reside in a drawer in Ruthmann’s office, where he’s begun the painstaking process of recreating them digitally.

While it might be true that there’s nothing quite like a good mixtape,NYU Stories asked Ruthmann for the next best thing: a (human-curated) playlist for every mood. Here are some of his top recommendations.

Soundtrack for chores around the house:
Fela Kuti (AfroBeat)
Or
Art Tatum (very fast, improvisatory jazz)

Like house from waaaaay back:
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Ruthmann once taught middle-schoolers to recreate it using software called Super Duper Music Looper. “Loops and repetition aren’t just in today’s music,” he says. “Those are not new strategies—Stravinsky was doing that with ostinatos and dance music, and we’ve had dance music since the dawn of time.”

The album that rocked his face:
Frank Zappa’s Roxy and Elsewhere

Good for ’80s trivia:
Peter Gabriel’s “Intruder.” It features the first instance of gated reverb which, first created when a sound engineer accidentally left a talk-back microphone on in the control room, would became one of the decade’s signature sounds (think of Phil Collins’ drums).

Bombastic brass:
“Jupiter” from Gustav Holst’s The Planets
Richard Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie

Guilty pleasure:
Anything by XTC
or
Sparks’ “Propaganda/At Home at Work At Play”

For more tips on deconstructing your favorite tunes, check out the next iteration of “Play With Your Music,” an online course on the basics of audio production that Ruthmann teaches with research assistant Ethan Hein. Anyone—even those with no musical training—can take the class, which is supported through a collaboration between Steinhardt, Peer 2 Peer University, and the MIT Media Lab. Students start by honing critical listening skills and then play around with interactive multi-track recordings from a major artist. And they’re grouped according to musical taste, Ruthmann explains, so that a Megadeth fan doesn’t end up having to listen to eight different Britney Spears remixes.

—Eileen Reynolds, NYU Stories; photo credit Anne Ruthman.

 

U.S. Department of Education Awards NYU Steinhardt $4 Million to Train Next Generation of Educational Researchers

Steinhardt’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC) has received a $4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to train students to conduct research in a range of areas in the field.

“Education is a cornerstone to a nation’s well-being—from spurring economic growth through an effectively trained workforce to serving as a gateway to pursue the American dream,” says Pamela Morris, director of IHDSC and a professor of applied psychology in NYU’s Steinhardt. “Therefore, it is vital to understand which policies and practices are most effective in educating our students.

“To do so, we must train the next generation of researchers so they are prepared to undertake the rigorous, interdisciplinary research necessary to evaluate what is working in the classroom and what is not, and how families and communities can additionally support student learning.”

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The five-year grant will support students in IES’s Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training (IES-PIRT) program, an interdisciplinary fellowship program designed to train students of diverse backgrounds to become outstanding researchers in the educational sciences. This current phase of the IES-PIRT will be housed at a select number of universities across the country, including: NYU, Stanford, Northwestern, the University of Virginia, and the University of Chicago.

Under the grant, NYU will offer doctoral students two- or three-year training fellowships that annually include tuition and benefits, $30,000 stipends, and a research fund. These students will participate in an interdisciplinary core curriculum focused on quantitative training and data science as well as the development of expertise in the following areas: enhancing outcomes beyond test scores and understanding the impact of policy influences on education–key areas for the next generation of research in education sciences.

Fellows will receive additional training through seminars, workshops, and mentored research apprenticeships with NYU faculty. They will also participate in practice/policy internships to learn how to apply practice, policy, and research skills to one or more areas of education science, understand and analyze sets of roles and processes within education practice/policy organizations, and integrate theory and research with education practice/policy toward new directions for education science. Partnerships with the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, MDRC and American Institutes for Research, and the New York City Department of Education will expand opportunities for doctoral training in this program.

Editor’s Note:
The IES-PIRT program is administered by the Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC). The Institute brings together faculty members from across multiple units within New York University, including the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, Human Development, The Wagner School of Public Service, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. For more, please visit:http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/ihdsc/iespirt.

 

It’s Story Hour at the Constantine Georgiou Children’s Library

Parents and caregivers, take note:  NYU’s Constantine Georgiou Library and Resource Center for Children and Literature, named in honor of an accomplished children’s book author, collector, and longtime scholar at NYU, opened in May 2013, and now offers free public programs for toddlers and infants featuring picture books from the center’s extensive collection. In a bright, cheery room just steps from the offices of Steinhardt’s leading experts in early literacy, media specialist Kendra Tyson imparts a love of reading through stories, songs, and games.

Contact her at kendra.tyson@nyu.edu for information about attending a story time with your child.

~ from NYU Stories

 

Steinhardt in the News: Pedro Noguera on Men, Education, and Masculinity on NPR

What does it mean to be a man in today’s society?  Pedro Noguera, the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, offered some ideas on an NPR All Things Considered segment called, The American Man Doesn’t Look Like His Father, on June 23rd.

Noguera discussed how the college gender gap – women now outnumber men as students and graduates — and an increased high school drop rate among men, is shaking up relationships and the economy.  The social scientist sees change, but a lag in our cultural understanding of “what it means to be a man as a nurturer in the family.”

Pedro Noguera is the executive director of Steinhardt’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (Metro Center), a comprehensive, university-based center that focuses on educational research, policy, and practice.

Listen to Pedro Noguera on NPR’s segment,  The American Man Doesn’t Look Like His Father.

To learn more about Noguera’s views on gender, read In Studies Across Disciplines, Steinhardt’s Social Scientists Challenge Deeply Held Beliefs About Gender.

 

Are Things Getting Better? Professor Arnold Grossman on Gay Rights and Suicide Risk in LGBT Youth

Arnold Grossman, a professor of applied psychology, is a lead researcher in a study called “Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide Among Sexual Minority Youth.” Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the study seeks to understand the psychological factors that increase suicide risk; information that is crucial in developing effective interventions.  We interviewed Arnold Grossman about his work which follows more that 1,000 LGBT people for a five-year period to determine how their relationship to suicidal ideation changes over time.

What have you learned studying LGBT suicide risk in sexual and gender minority youth?

My research has focused on understanding of mental health challenges faced by LGBT youth including aspects of their resilience and vulnerability. Although most LGBT youth do not engage in suicidal thinking and behaviors, suicide has become a prominent concern because suicide is not only fatal, but it is also a preventable public health outcome.

Our current research is investigating whether Joiner’s “Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide” is applicable to understanding suicide among LGBT youth. As the model predicts our initial findings indicate that both “thwarted belongingness” (e.g., social isolation, loneliness) and “perceived burdensomeness” (e.g., feeling of being a liability to others important in their lives) when present together create a “desire to die” (i.e., suicidal thinking). The next step in our research is to investigate whether LGBT youth acquire the capability to harm themselves (i.e., death by suicide) because of their experiences with persistent victimization and abuse (e.g., verbal, physical, sexual) as well as self-injury.

Professor Arnold Grossman

Given our greater social consciousness and evolving civil rights for LGBT people, are things getting better for young people who are coming out today?

First, the equality of civil rights movement has focused on lesbian and gay adults, especially same-sex couples. Most advances in rights have not embraced bisexual men and women and transgender people.

Second, as a society, we continue to think that youth are not sexual beings and we reject those who self-identify as being LGBT.

According to recent reports, approximately 40% of the homeless youth in New York City identify as LGBT; and they are the throw-away and run-away youth who are in their state of homelessness related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of them continue to experience various types of victimization in their schools and on their streets. So, many of the evolving rights won by adults do not benefit youth.  However, that being said, many more LGBT youth are experiencing greater protections by new school policies protective of their right to be who they are.

What gives you the most hope about the work you are doing?

I am seeing that the outcome of research being conducted by my students and colleagues is leading to increased policies for the protection of LGBT youth and the growth of services for those who experience discrimination, abuse, and other forms of victimization at the hands of peers and adults.

According to a Southern Poverty Law Center’s study, LGBT people are members of the most hated groups in society because of homophobia and transphobia.  LGBT youth, the most vulnerable members of this group, are gaining growing support from compassionate people who are advocating for them and helping them to thrive.