Tara Chanady (École de Santé Publique de l’Université de Montréal), Kira London-Nadeau (Université de Montréal), Rod Knight (BC Centre on Substance Use, Université de Montréal), Kinda Wassef (École de Santé Publique de l'Université de Montréal), Christian Barborini (University of British Columbia), Olivier Ferlatte (École de Santé Publique de l'Université de Montréal), Connor Lafortune (Nipissing University), Catherine Gorka (Université de Montréal), Mélodie Lemay-Gaulin (Université de Montréal, CHU Ste-Justine Research Centre)
LGBTQIA+ youth are typically left to the margins of substance use and mental health research. However, focusing on LGBTQIA+ youth perspectives and experiences is an important avenue to better understanding cannabis use motivations and its effects without pathologizing and paternalizing an already stigmatized population. Through two projects led by queer youth, this panel aims to offer insights on the challenges, benefits and importance of community-based research led by queer researchers and queer youth. Through their semi-structured interviews with 27 queer and trans youth, aged 21 to 25 years in Québec, the first research team focused on neurodiversity and the structural and systemic factors about the COVID-19 pandemic on queer and trans youth’s experiences. The second team will present a photovoice project with 76 LGBTQIA+ youth who use cannabis in Quebec (46) and British Columbia (30). By taking pictures and discussing them in an interview, the participants expressed complex cannabis use motivations that featured experiences with mental health fluctuations, as well as the use of cannabis for introspection and for gender and sexual identities explorations. Throughout both research projects, cannabis often presents itself as an evolving tool for exploration, discovery, connection, coping and resistance. This panel aims to initiate a much-needed discussion on LGBTQIA+ youth agency within community-based research in the areas of substance use and mental health, in particular in regards to cannabis use trajectories across sexually diverse women as well as transgender, non-binary & gender-questioning youth.