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The Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Health (SOGI Health) Laboratory

Supporting the Development and Health of LGBTQ Young People

Pride flag

The Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Health (SOGI Health) Lab is affiliated with the Department of Family Science and the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center. The research group convenes faculty, students, and community partners in an effort to better understand and support the positive development and health of LGBTQ young people.

Department: Family Science
Room Number: 1142K
Director: Jessica Fish 

Office Phone Number: (301) 405-4008

Participate in Our LGBTQ Family Support Study

SOGI Health Lab Participants Needed

Researchers from the UMD Department of Family Science want to talk with families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, or queer (LGBTQ) daughters between the ages of 15 and 19 and the teens themselves. The purpose of this study is to learn how families can better support their LGBTQ children.

The study involves a one-time, confidential 90-minute interview online or over the phone with teens and parent(s) separately. 

This study has been approved by the University of Maryland IRB, protocol #1355641-2

Graduate Student Opportunities

I welcome the opportunity to work with graduate and undergraduate students interested in the intersection between sexual orientation, gender identity, and health. Volunteer and credit-based research assistantship positions are available in my research lab. If you are a graduate or undergraduate student who is interested in working with our lab, please complete this application form and email it to me at

If you are a prospective graduate student interested in doing research in this area, please contact me at


LGBT Youth Link
UMD Prevention Research Center

Assessing the Social Consequences of COVID-19 


People: Long Doan (PI); Liana Sayer (co-I); Jessica Fish (co-I)
Funding: National Science Foundation (SES-2029963); University of Maryland Vice President for Research 

The study examines the impacts of COVID-19 and social distancing efforts on behavior, time spent with others, use of technology, and mental and physical wellbeing, with particular interest in how these effects vary by gender, sexuality, family structure, race/ethnicity, and immigrant status.

Adolescence to Adulthood: Factors Influencing Trajectories of Suicide Ideation and Attempt Among Sexual Minorities

Adolescence to Adulthood

People: Susan DeLuca (PI; University of Texas); John Blosnich (PI; USC), Jessica Fish (co-I)
Funding: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Mental Health (RF1MH122852)  

Religiosity is often a protective factor for suicide, but this may not be true for sexual minority youth. The research will examine whether trajectories of religiosity and suicidality – and their association – vary on the basis of sexual orientation.

LGBTQ Community Centers and Programs

LGBTQ Community Centers

People: Jessica Fish (PI), Natasha Williams

Funding: UMD Graduate School, UMD SPH Gold Award

This mixed-method project examines LGBTQ youth-serving community-based centers around the country to document their service provision efforts and impact.




LGBTQ Family Socialization

LGBTQ Family Socialization

People: Jessica Fish (PI), Mia Smith-Bynum (co-I), Natasha Williams, Zack Berman

Funding: Lesbian Health FundFunded by the Lesbian Health Fund (GLMA)

This project explores the potential protective effects of positive parental messaging regarding sexual minority girls’ sexual minority identities and whether these practices buffer the negative effects of LGBQ-related discrimination on mental health and substance use.

SGM Youth Substance Use: Subgroup differences, risk, and protective factors

SGM Youth Substance Use

People: Jessica Fish (M-PI), Ryan Watson (University of Connecticut)

Funding: NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse (1R03DA046827)

This study examines how sexual and gender minority youth experiences of distal and proximal minority stressors are associated with substance use (i.e., alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and polysubstance use) and the potential protective influence of family and teacher support. 

Population Health Trends among Heterosexual and Sexual Minority Adults

Population Health Trends

People: Jessica Fish (PI), Andrew Conway, Laura Baams (University of Groningen), Travis Salway (Simon Fraser University), Ashleigh Rich (University of British Columbia)

Funding: Maryland Population Research Center Seed Grant

This project explores trends in mental, behavioral, and physical health among heterosexual and sexual minority adults from the early 2000s to 2015 using three population-based datasets.

Jessica Fish
Jessica Fish (she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor, Family Science
Core Research Scientist, University of Maryland Prevention Research Center

Dr. Jessica Fish is a human development and family science scholar whose research focuses on the health and well-being of sexual and gender minority (i.e., lesbian/gay, bisexual, and transgender) people and their families. Broadly, Dr. Fish studies the socio-cultural and interpersonal factors that shape the development and health of sexual and gender minority youth and adults. Her overarching goal is to identify modifiable factors that contribute to sexual and gender minority health disparities in order to inform developmentally-sensitive policies, programs, and prevention strategies that promote the health of sexual and gender minority people across the life course.

Graduate Students

Natasha Williams
Natasha Williams (she/her/hers)

Natasha is a second-year Family Science doctoral student. After undergrad at Florida State, she completed her M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy at Purdue University Calumet. She has been the TA or instructor of record for courses in families, poverty, and affluence; statistics; human sexuality; and behavior disorders. Her research documents mental health disparities for sexual and gender minority folx of color and their access to treatment. In her free time, Natasha enjoys experimenting with global cuisines, visiting with family, and cheering on her Seminoles and Jacksonville Jaguars in football.



Andrew Conway
Andrew Conway (he/him/his)

Andrew is a third-year Family Science doctoral student. He received his Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and completed a post-MSW fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center. Andrew is a Licensed Social Worker and worked as Clinical Faculty at the Yale School of Medicine in the Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services program. Andrew’s research interests include the impact of intergenerational trauma on youth mental health, youth absenteeism, and the interaction of vulnerable families with state systems.



Zack Berman
Zack Berman (he/him/his)

Zachary Berman is a second-year Couple and Family Therapy Masters student from Gaithersburg, Maryland. He earned a B.A. in Psychology and Criminology with a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland in 2013. As an undergraduate, Zack worked as an intern investigator for the Washington, D.C. Public Defender Service, a research assistant in the Stereotyping Prejudice and Intergroup Relations Laboratory (SPIRL), and a senior staff writer for UMD’s student-run newspaper The Diamondback. After graduation, Zack worked for five years as a rehabilitation counselor for Cornerstone Montgomery, Inc. He was eventually promoted to Site Administrator of the Foundations Day Program, where he worked daily with clients suffering from a broad range of severe mental illnesses. He also taught the agency’s “Secondary Trauma and Self-Care” training to new employees. Zack’s research and clinical interests include sexuality, meta-communication, adolescence, and the influence of the criminal justice system on families. Outside of work and school, Zack is a musician and an author. He regularly performs in venues around the D.C. area and recently had his first novelette published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. In June of 2018, Zack helped to raise around $6000 for Planned Parenthood by performing as one of the core musicians in a special benefit show. Unfortunately, his dog Misty will not be attending school this year.

Katherine Tomlinson
Katherine Tomlinson (Tee - she/her/hers)

Tee is a second-year Couple and Family Therapy Masters student. She earned undergraduate degrees in Intercultural Studies and Sociology. After graduating, she worked for a few years as a teacher and home visitor in programs focused on strengthening underserved families. Tee currently works as a Research Assistant in the Center for Early Childhood Education and Intervention at UMD and with Dr. Fish on her LGBQ Socialization project. She is also collaborating on a project on LGBTQ parenting with the SOGI Lab at UT Austin. Her research interests include family functioning, parenting, identity development, and play therapy. Outside of work and school, Tee enjoys reading, textile arts, and all things outdoors.

Undergraduate Students

Issmatu Barrie
Issmatu Barrie (she/her/hers)

Issmatu is a senior Behavioral and Community Health major at the University of Maryland. She has been volunteering at the SOGI Health Lab since 2018. Currently, her time at the lab is dedicated to the MIlestone Meta-Analysis study partnering with researchers at the University of Texas. She is committed to screening and reviewing scholarly articles for inclusion/exclusion in the study. In her free time, she is an avid NFL fan and has a passion for cooking.



Jackson Devadas
Jackson Devadas (he/him/his)

Jackson is a junior at the University of Maryland, studying biology and statistics, and aids in research within the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) lab. He is interested in using epidemiological techniques to help improve the mental health outcomes of marginalized groups (i.e. minorities, LGBT folx, etc.) in a global context. He hopes to pursue a graduate degree in epidemiology and perform research at the intersections of genetics, social and physical environments, and mental illness.



Jillian Parisi
Jillian Parisi (she/her/hers)

Jillian is a sophomore originally from Severna Park, Maryland. She is a Public Health Science major and is a second-year Global Public Health Scholar. Jillian began working with Dr. Jessica Fish in January 2019 where she has assisted on various projects by collecting variables relevant to LGBTQ+ health from the NHANES as well as other national surveys. She has worked on projects related to international trends in LGBTQ+ youth health, Q Chat Space, and LBG women’s experiences with IVF. Due to her passion for public health, Jillian is interested in studying health inequities the LGBTQ+ community faces due to social stigma and discrimination.



Brennan Winer
Brennan Winer (he/him/his)

Brennan is a sophomore Public Health Science and Government and Politics (International Relations) major studying ethical and policy protections for LGBT+ clients, students, supervisors, and educators in fields related to mental health. In addition, he is starting work on a project with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association that will streamline comparative studies of LGBT+ mental health by conjoining US state and international indices for LGBT+ quality of life. He has been with the SOGI lab for just under a year and is passionate about participating in work that improves the health of his community. Eventually, he hopes to study epidemiology or global health policy at LSHTM (fingers crossed!).

Post-Bach Researchers 

Rebecca Mann
Rebecca Mann (she/her/hers) or (they/them/theirs)

Rebecca is an alumnus of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Maryland, they hold bachelor’s degrees in economics and history. Their research interests are centered around using data to understand and reduce the disparities in health and income that marginalized people face. Rebecca currently works as a research assistant at Synergy Enterprises Inc. doing data analysis and visualization in education and public health research. Rebecca works in the family science sexual orientation and gender identity lab (SOGI) doing data coding, cleaning, analysis and visualization for projects involving LGBTQ people and their health.



Former Students 

Rachel Edsall
Rachel Edsall (she/her/hers)

Rachel is a senior at the University of Maryland, studying public health science and sustainability studies, and takes part in research through the family science sexual orientation and gender identity lab (SOGI). She is passionate about epidemiology and finding ways to improve the health of target populations. Her drive to help others drew her to the SOGI lab where she is able to work on projects to improve access and delivery of needs to the LGBTQ population. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to receive her master's degree in epidemiology.


Outside Collaborators

  • Laura Baams
  • Ryan Watson
  • Megan Paceley
  • Lauren McInroy
  • Stephen Russell

Fish, J. N., McInroy, L. B., Paceley, M. P. Williams, N. D., Henderson, S., Levine, D. S., & Edsall, R. N. (in press). “I'm kinda stuck at home with unsupportive parents right now”: LGBTQ Youths' Experiences with COVID-19 and the Importance of Online Support. Journal of Adolescent Health. Advanced online publication. 

Kachingwe, O. N., Salerno, J. P., Boekeloo, B. O., Fish, J. N., Geddings-Hayes, M., Aden, F. & Aparicio, E. M. (in press). “The internet is not private”: The role of social media in sexual health among youth in foster care. Journal of Adolescence. Advanced online publication. 

Solerno, J., Kachingwe, O., Fish, J. N., Parekh, E., Geddings-Hayes, M., Boekeloo, B. O., & Aparicio, E. (in press). “Even if you think you can trust them, don’t trust them”: The lived experience of sexual health among sexual minority girls in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review. Advanced online publication. 

Fish, J. N., & Rice, C. E. (in press). Life course perspectives on past-year alcohol use disorder between heterosexual and sexual minority adults and associations with discrimination. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Phillips II, G., Felt, D., Fish, J. N., Ruprecht, M. M., Birkett, M., & Poteat, V. P. (in press). Commentary: limitations and misrepresentation of “mischievous responders” in LGBT+ health research. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Advanced online publication. 

Holman, E. G., Landry-Meyer, L., Fish, J. N. (in press). Creating supportive environments for LGBT older adults: An efficacy evaluation of staff training in a senior living facility. Journal of Gerontological Social Work. Advanced online publication. 

Fish, J. N., & Russell, S. T. (in press). Sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts are unsubstantiated, unethical, and harmful. American Journal of Public Health. Advanced online publication. 

Krueger, E. A., Fish, J. N., Hammack, P. L., Lightfoot, M., Bishop, M., & Russell, S. T. (in press).  Comparing national probability and community-based samples of sexual minority adults: Implications and recommendations for population and health researchers. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Advanced online publication. 

Fish, J. N. & Krueger, E. (2020). Reconsidering approaches to estimating sexual-orientation-related health disparities across multiple measures of sexual orientation. LGBT Health. Advanced online publication  

McGuire, J. N., Berg, D., Catalpa, J. M., Morrow, Q. J., Fish, J. N., Steensma, T., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., & Spencer, K. (2020). Utrecht Gender Dysphoria Scale Gender Spectrum (UGDS-GS): Construct validity among transgender, nonbinary, and LGBQ samples. International Journal of Transgender Health. Advanced online publication 

Baams, L., Keikens, W., & Fish, J. N. (in press). The rejection sensitivity model: Sexual minority adolescents in context. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Advanced online publication.

Rice, C. E., Fish, J. N., Russell, S. T., & Lanza. S. T. (in press). Sexual minority-related discrimination across the life course: Findings from a national sample of adults in the United States. Journal of Homosexuality. Advanced online publication.

Watson, R. J., Park, M., Taylor, A., Fish, J. N., Corliss, H., Eisenberg, M., Saewyc, E. (2020). Associations Between Community-Level LGBTQ-Supportive Factors and Substance Use Among Sexual Minority Adolescents. LGBT Health, 7(2), 37-46. 

Gamarel, K. E., Watson, R. J., Mouzoon, R., Wheldon, C. W., Fish, J. N., & Fleischer, N. L. (2020). Family rejection and cigarette smoking among sexual and gender minority adolescents in the United States. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 27, 179-187. 

Paceley, M. S., Fish, J. N., Thomas, M. M. C., Goffnett, J. (2020). The impact of community size, community climate, and victimization on the physical and mental health of sexual and gender minority youth. Journal of Youth Studies, 52, 3, 427-448.

Day, J. K., Fish, J. N., Grossman, A. & Russell, S. T. (2020). Gay-straight alliances, inclusive policy, and school climate: LGBTQ youths’ experiences of social support and bullying. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 30, S2. 

Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., McKay, T., Allen, S., Eaton, L., & Puhl, R. M. (2020). Substance use among a national sample of LGBTQ adolescents: Intersections of sex assigned at birth and gender identity. LGBT Health, 7(1), 37-46. 

Fish, J. N. (2020). Sexual minority youth are at a disadvantage: What now? The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 4, 3-4. 

Kreueger, E., Fish, J. N., & Upchurch, D. (2020). Sexual orientation disparities in alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco use disorders: Investigating social stress mechanisms in a U.S. national sample. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 58, 59-69. 

Williams, N. D., Levine, D., & Fish, J. N. (2019). 2019 Needs Assessment: LGBTQ+ Youth Centers and Programs. Fort Lauderdale, FL: CenterLink.

Fish, J. N., Moody, R. Grossman, A. H., & Russell, S. T. (2019). LGBTQ community-based youth organizations: Who participates and what difference does it make? Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Advanced online publication. 

Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., Poteat, V. P. Rathus, T. (2019). Sexual and gender minority youth alcohol use: Within-group differences in associations with internalized stigma and victimization. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Advanced online publication. 

Kreueger, E., Fish, J. N., & Upchurch, D. (2019). Sexual orientation disparities in alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco use disorders: Investigating social stress mechanisms in a U.S. national sample. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 

Paceley, M. S., Fish, J. N., Thomas, M. M. C., Goffnett, J. (2019). The impact of community size, community climate, and victimization on the physical and mental health of sexual and gender minority youth. Journal of Youth Studies, 1-22. 

Fish, J. N. (2019). Sexual orientation-related disparities in high-intensity binge drinking: Findings from a nationally representative sample. LGBT Health, 6(5), 242-249. 

Wheldon, C. W., Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., & Garamel, K. (2019). Cigarette smoking among youth at the intersection of sexuality orientation and gender identity. LGBT Health, 6(5), 235-241. 

Rice, C. E., Fish, J. N., Russell, S. T., & Lanza. S. T. (2019). A snapshot of discrimination experiences among sexual minorities in the United States. Journal of Homosexuality.

Paceley, M. S., Fish, J. N., Conrad, A., Schuetz, N. (2019). Diverse community contexts and community resources for sexual and gender minority youth: A mixed methods study. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 1-16. 

Russell, S. T., & Fish, J. N. (2019). Sexual minority youth, social change, and health: A developmental collision. Research in Human Development, 16, 5-20. 

Day, J. K., Fish, J. N., Grossman, A. & Russell, S. T. (2019). Gay-straight alliances, inclusive policy, and school climate: LGBTQ youths’ experiences of social support and bullying. Journal of Research on Adolescence. Advanced online publication. 

Fish, J. N., Turner, B., Phillips, G., & Russell, S. T. (2019). Are cigarette smoking disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth decreasing? Findings from 10 years of population data. Pediatrics, 143. 

Coulter, R. W. S., Flynn, D., Fish, J. N., & Plankey, M. W. (2019). Latent classes of polysubstance use among adolescents in the United States: Intersections of sexual identity with sex, age, and race/ethnicity. LGBT Health, 6, 116-125. 

Rice, C. E., Vasilenko, S. A., Fish, J. N., & Lanza. S. T. (2019). Sexual minority health disparities: An examination of age-related trends across adulthood in a national cross-sectional sample. Annals of Epidemiology, 31, 20-25. 

Fish, J. N., Baams, L., Wojciak, A., & Russell, S. T. (2019). Are sexual minority youth overrepresented in foster care, child welfare, and out-of-home placement? Findings from nationally representative data. Child Abuse & Neglect, 89, 203-211. PMID: 30708335

Holman, E. G., Fish, J. N., Oswald, R. F., & Goldberg, A. E. (2019). Reconsidering the LGBT climate inventory: Understanding support and hostility for LGBTQ employees in the workplace. Journal of Career Assessment. 27(3), 544-559.

Fish, J. N., Watson, R. J., Gahagan, J., Porta, C. M., Beaulieu-Prévost, D., & Russell, S. T. (2019). Smoking Behaviours among Heterosexual and Sexual Minority Youth? Findings from 15 years of Provincially Representative Data. Drug and Alcohol Review, 38, 101-110. PMC6338485

Catalpa, J. M., McGuire, J. K., Berg, D., Fish, J. N., Rider, G. N., & Bradford, N. (2019). Predictive validity of the genderqueer identity scale (GQI): Differences between genderqueer, transgender, and cisgender sexual minority individuals. International Journal of Transgenderism, 20(2-3), 305-314. 

Fish, J. N., Schulenberg, J. E., & Russell, S. T. (2019). Sexual minority youth report high-intensity binge drinking: The critical role of school victimization. Journal of Adolescent Health, 64, 186-193. 

Martin-Storey, A. & Fish, J. N., (2019). Victimization disparities between heterosexual and sexual minority youth from ages 9 to 15. Child Development, 90, 71-81. 

Sexual Orientation

Editorial: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts are Unethical and Harmful

Two experts in LGBTQ and young adult mental health, Dr. Jessica Fish (UMD SPH) and Dr. Stephen T. Russel (UT, Austin) describe the serious harms that LGBTQ youth experience from so-called “conversion therapy” efforts in a new editorial published in the American Journal of Public Health.


Don Milton and Jessica Fish Receive Seed Grants

Don Milton and Jessica Fish Receive Seed Grants for COVID-19 Research

Don Milton, professor of environmental health, and Jessica Fish, assistant professor of family science, each received seed grants from the UMD Division of Research for COVID-19-related research. 

UMD Prevention Research Center

UMD Prevention Research Center Appoints New Executive Leaders

To advance its mission to support LGBTQ+ mental health, the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) has appointed Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio, assistant professor of behavioral and community health as the Deputy Director of Clinical Training and Intervention and Dr. Jessica Fish, assistant professor of family science as Deputy Director for Research and Evaluation. 

SPH Faculty Publishes Three Papers

Family Science Assistant Professor, Jessica Fish, Publishes Three Papers, and Receives Several Grants and Awards for LGBTQ+ Mental Health Research

In the past few months, Dr. Jessica Fish, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Science has published a slew of articles on LGBTQ+ mental health and substance abuse and has received multiple research grants from institutions like the National Institutes of Health.

LGBTQ Community Organizations

Study shows benefit of community organizations in supporting LGBTQ youth mental health

In a new Journal of Youth and Adolescence article, Family Science Assistant Professor Dr. Jessica Fish explores who engages in and benefits from communal LGBTQ organizations. The paper found young LGBTQ persons who participated in community-based LGBTQ organizations were more likely to have better mental health and less likely to use or abuse substances compared to their peers.

LGBTQ Health Disparities

Researchers Win Data Contract to Study LGBTQ Health Disparities

University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers won a competitive data contract to access the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) national healthcare consumer data to study LGBTQ disparities in access to healthcare.

Dangerous Disparity

Dangerous Disparity: New research Shows Heavy Driniking Risks for Sexual Minority Women

While four drinks in about two hours for women meets the standard definition of binge drinking, new University of Maryland research suggests the practice may be even more intense—and dangerous—for non-heterosexual women.


Bradley Boekeloo

UMD Prevention Research Center to Focus on LGBTQ Mental Health with new $3.75M from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) is working to improve mental health and health care for LGBTQ+ people with new funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).