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William F. Connell School of Nursing

LGBT resiliency

connell school news

Shawn McGuffey and Matthew Stowe

On May 5, Boston College hosted a half-day conference that examined resiliency and healing after trauma in the LGBT population. Dr. Ilan Meyer of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University delivered the keynote address and Dr. Judith Bradford, director of the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health, co-chair of the Fenway Institute, and professor at the Institute of Women’s Health at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, gave concluding remarks.

The event also included a multi-disciplinary panel of Boston College presenters who have done research or worked on policy initiatives in the area of LGBT trauma, resiliency, and health. Topics included studies of the lived experience of LGBT hate crimes, the need for anti-bullying policies, rape and race, legal processes, and a case study of the LGBTQ Resource Center at Georgetown University.

The conference came about because of a chance meeting between Danny Willis and Liesel Tyson. Willis, assistant professor at the Connell School of Nursing, and Tyson, a reference librarian at O’Neill Library and student in the Graduate School of Social Work, discovered they had a mutual professional interest in trauma and LGBT studies. After many conversations over coffee, the idea for a conference evolved and they added Kevin Mahoney from the School of Social Work and Paul Poteat from the School of Education to their planning committee.

Their hard work produced a panel of speakers, including Willis and Poteat, representing nearly every school at Boston College. Shawn McGuffy from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences joined the panel to speak about black men and same sex assault, and Matthew Stowe from Boston College Law School talked about victimization and vindication in the legal process. Wade Taylor, a Graduate School of Social Work PhD student, also participated. 

“The multidisciplinary focus of this panel was powerful,” said Tyson, who moderated the event. “The individual voices of trauma survivors that some presenters worked with presented a depth of emotional experience that was complemented by a larger systemic view. This combination provided a breadth and depth of experience that is both unique and necessary.”

Danny Willis, who presented on the lived experience of hate crimes as remembered by gay men, believes Boston College researchers are well positioned to examine these issues.

“We’re really fortunate to have a group of scholars from various schools at Boston College who seriously address LGBT health and social justice issues in their research, teaching, and practice,” said Willis. “The conference presenters were able to clearly show that LGBT health and social justice issues need to be approached through an interdisciplinary lens given the complex social, psychological, spiritual, and cultural factors influencing the wellbeing of this minority population.”

Pictured: Assistant professor of sociology Shawn McGuffey and adjunct faculty member at the Boston College Law School Matthew Stowe, who both presented at the conference