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Critical Consciousness for Connectivity: Decoding Social Isolation Experienced by Latinx and LGBTQ+ Youth Using a Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Health Equity

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Systemic oppression creates a context in which Latinx LGBTQ+ youth experience social isolation. Social isolation has been associated with mental and physical health disparities, including disproportionate levels of depression, substance use, self-harm, and attempted suicide. These disparities are often magnified in rural and suburban areas with fewer identity-affirming spaces. This community-engaged study reports on the formative process of developing a Latinx LGBTQ+ telenovela (soap opera) allyship intervention based on critical consciousness theory. We conducted eight focus groups with community advisory boards, which included Latinx LGBTQ+ youth (n = 12), health and social service providers serving LGBTQ+ youth (n = 10), 4-H Latinx alumni youth (n = 12), and 4-H Latinx parents (n = 8). We interviewed nine Latinx LGBTQ+ youth enrolled in a film-making workshop. As a result of our multi-stakeholder approach, we: (1) described how stakeholders reflected on and decoded intersectional isolation on the individual, community, and structural levels; and (2) identified ways that stakeholders suggested taking action by improving access to resources to address social isolation, provide culturally competent healthcare, and co-create an enabling social environment. Our study indicated the importance of tapping into core values and intersectional identities to build solidarity among and within marginalized groups to dismantle oppressive systems.

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