Queer Concerns: Key Issues in Sexual Gender Minority Research

  • Half-Day Pre-Conference
  • 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM
  • $35.00
This pre-conference aims to foster generative and supportive conversations around current issues faced by sexual and gender minority (SGM) researchers. We will bring together researchers in a variety of disciplines who
  1. study issues related to SGM adolescents and/or
  2. identify as SGM individuals conducting research on adolescents.
Topics will include challenges and strategies faced when conducting research with these populations (e.g., intersectional measurement; positionality), facilitating Departmental learning on issues of SGM diversity, equity, and inclusion as both tenured and non-tenured faculty, and building courses on these topics (e.g., inclusive syllabi development).  


  1. Constructing Queer Syllabi (60 min). This panel aims to discuss resources to incorporate more queer content into existing undergraduate and graduate courses that are not necessarily SGM-specific, and to develop new courses explicitly focused on SGM issues in adolescence. Panel conversation will be followed by time to workshop syllabi together. Speakers: Robert Marx, Mike Sladek 
  2. Keynote: Current Considerations in SGM Research (90 min). Experts in the field will discuss key topics in SGM adolescent research. Topics include challenges of intersectional measurement, applied work with queer youth, and partnership work with community based organizations. 20 minutes per speaker plus Q&A. Speakers: Paul Poteat, Russ Toomey 
  3. Creating Inclusive Departments (60 min roundtable discussion/workshop). This session will start with a panel discussion of common questions about issues facing SGM students and faculty, followed by a workshop session of potential answers. We will cover issues such as pronoun use, creating inclusive classrooms, navigating departmental politics, and mentorship responsibilities for SGM faculty. By the end of the session, everyone will be more prepared with talking points to share with their home programs.     Panelists: Brian Gillis, Kay Simon. Moderator: Esa Burson
  4. SGM professional speed meeting (45 min): this session provides an opportunity to meet colleagues in the field and potential collaborators.


Esther (Esa) Burson is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Smith College in Northampton, MA. They employ quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore how youth with racial/ethnic and sexual/gender minority identities form critical consciousness on social inequity, and how these beliefs inform individual wellbeing and intergroup attitudes. An applied developmental psychologist by training, Burson integrates theories of critical consciousness with social psychological theories of intergroup relations and community psychology perspectives on settings and organizations. They prioritize research-practice partnerships with youth serving organizations, most recently completing an evaluation of alumni civic and community engagement with City Year and the Einhorn Collaborative.

Kay A. Simon is an assistant professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. Their research interests focus on narratives, identity development, future parenthood, and family experiences among marginalized groups such as LGBTQ+ or BIPOC individuals. Dr. Simon's research is informed by intersectionality, bioecological systems, and queer theories as well as ambiguous loss theory and relies on multiple methodological and data analytic approaches to uplift and represent the narratives of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC individuals.




V. Paul Poteat is a Professor at Boston College in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development. His research focuses on the school-based experiences of LGBTQ+ students. As part of this work, he has sought to cultivate and sustain longstanding partnerships with Gender-Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) located in a wide representation of schools. Through these collaborations, he and his colleagues have identified individual- and group-level mechanisms by which they facilitate empowerment and resilience among youth from diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. His research has been supported by grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and William T. Grant Foundation. Dr. Poteat serves as Co-Editor at the American Educational Research Journal (AERJ) and Associate Editor at the Journal of Research on Adolescence (JRA). He recently served as Co-Chair of the Equity and Justice Committee of SRCD, and he was a senior scholar for the 2023 summer school ahead of the European Conference on Developmental Psychology.  

Dr. Russ Toomey (he/him) is Professor of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Arizona. Dr. Toomey conducts research on the processes by which sexual and gender minority youth thrive and are resilient despite the oppressive barriers and challenges they encounter in society. His research identifies both the individual-level mechanisms (e.g., coping, activism) and systems-level policies (e.g., inclusive school policies) that reduce the impacts of discrimination and contribute to optimal health, well-being, and educational outcomes. At the University of Arizona, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on professional development, human sexuality, and advanced graduate-level applied statistics. He serves on the Executive Council for the Society for Research on Adolescence, the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development, and the Editorial Board for the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.


Brian T. Gillis, Ph.D., LMFT, is an assistant professor of marriage and family therapy at Auburn University. He studies sleep as a risk and protective factor for sexual- and gender-minority adolescents. His work has demonstrated, for example, that sleep quality protects against the influence of sexual-minority discrimination on mental illness. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the SRCD Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression (SOGIE) Caucus, a member of his department’s Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and a former Action Committee Co-Leader for Auburn University’s Campus Pride Index. In his clinical practice, Brian provides family therapy to LGBTQ+ youth and their parents throughout Alabama and is a certified member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.




Dr. Robert Marx (they/he) is an Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Development at San José State University. Their research and teaching focus on creating affirming and inclusive spaces, with special focus on queer and trans youth development. They are currently in the process of creating an undergraduate course on gender development over the lifespan.



Eva Lefkowitz is professor and department head of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Previously she served as a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. She earned her Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles in Developmental Psychology. Her research focuses on sexual health, using a developmental perspective to examine predictors of negative and positive aspects of sexual health, and the broader health and relationship implications of sexual health. Most recently, she has studied LGBTQ+ college students’ well-being during disruptions and transitions (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic; academic breaks). Dr. Lefkowitz has served as a principal investigator, co-investigator, or faculty mentor on projects funded by the NIH and the WT Grant Foundation. Her publications include over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.

 Giovanina (Giovi) Kelly (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in Educational Psychology within the Counseling Psychology division at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Her research interests include LGBTQIA+ identity and development and how stigmatization of this social identity impacts psychological well-being. Additionally, she is interested in the developmental processes of “coming out” for sexual minority individuals. Before joining the doctorate program, she completed her master’s degree at UIUC in Mental Health Counseling, where she was trained as a clinician utilizing therapeutic techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), while taking a person-centered/humanistic approach.


Dr. Mike Sladek (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Oklahoma, where he directs the Contexts of Health, Adolescent Resilience, and Measuring Stress Lab. In his research Mike draws from cultural-ecological models that situate development in context and emphasizes strengths-based identity-affirming approaches in pursuit of health equity and social justice. Recent projects include a longitudinal mixed methods study of resilience, identity, and health among LGBTQ+ young adults and evaluation of a school-based intervention focused on promoting the developmental competency of ethnic-racial identity development among adolescents using daily diary methods. In his teaching, Mike developed the first LGBTQ+ Psychology course offered at his university, and has the pleasure of working with 11 outstanding undergraduate students in the lab (three of whom are presenting at SRA!). Mike completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard University, a Ph.D. and M.A. in Psychology at Arizona State University, and a B.A. with Honors in Psychology at Northwestern University.
Dr. Laura Baams is an Associate Professor at the University of Groningen, where she is PI for various research projects on mental health disparities among LGBTQ+ adolescents and young adults. She earned her PhD at Utrecht University, was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, and then started at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Dr. Baams is chair of the SRCD Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression (SOGIE) Caucus and the Flemish-Dutch LGBTI Research Network.