NIH Funds Program Matching LGBT Teens and Adults for ‘Mentoring’ Without Parental Consent

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently providing $203,050 in funding for a pilot project that matches transgender and LGBTQ youth with adult “mentors” online. 

The project, preliminarily named the “Teen Connection Project,” launched earlier this summer and is set to run until the end of January 2025—though all funding will be provided by January 2024, according to the project description’s budget. 

It is led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor Dr. Katie Edwards.

Referring to transgender and other gender minority youths as “TGMY,” the project summary states that, “Minority stress theory states that peer and family rejection and internalized transphobia predict deleterious health outcomes in TGMY, underscoring the urgent need to identify effective programs that prevent psychosocial and behavioral health issues among TGMY.”

Further, it claims that a problem with most similar youth-adult LGBTQ “mentoring programs” is that they require parental consent, positing that “few mentoring programs exist specifically for TGMY, and those that do have not been rigorously evaluated; often require guardian permission.” 

The program plans to recruit 140 LGBTQ youths and teenagers. 70 of them will be paired with one of 20 adult mentors for one-on-one online discussions while the other 70 will be waitlisted as a control group. 

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center Dr. Nathaniel Blake said in a statement to The College Fix that, “Deliberately pairing adult strangers with children without parental knowledge, let alone consent, is a bad idea especially because these adult mentors are to be recruited online and are apparently not required to have any special training or skills other than a transgender identity.” 

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