Scholar Class – 2011
Growing up in rural Wisconsin, Jordan Simonson became acutely aware of the struggles faced by LGBT youth. Although he knew he was gay when he was twelve years old, he was only able to share his sexual orientation with his closest friends because of the fear that he would be victimized. Because he felt isolated and unsupported by his community, Jordan worked to raise awareness of sexuality within his high school by helping revise the health education curriculum and advocating for inclusion of information about safer-sex practices.
Jordan met gay peers and first felt valued as a sexual minority at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He pursued majors in Psychology and Sociology, through which he became aware of the elevated rates of mental health issues within LGBTQ individuals. Following his grandfather’s advice about choosing a “career you would do without any external incentive,” Jordan decided that he wanted to become a psychologist and help alleviate anxiety and depression in the LGBTQ community.
Jordan is working toward a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) in Seattle, Washington. His experiences with minority stress and strength have informed his current research project, Youth PREVAIL (Project of Experiences and Vulnerabilities Affecting Individuals’ Lives). Jordan is examining the mechanisms by which LGBTQ youth come to experience increased rates of anxiety and depression. He hopes to identify specific vulnerabilities and strengths, so that interventions can be developed to reduce and/or prevent psychopathology from affecting the LGBT community in the future.
In addition to his studies, Jordan volunteers at Lambert House and Bailey-Boushay House, two LGBTQ organizations in Seattle. He is also active in Haven, a safe-space and place for the discussion of sexuality on the SPU campus. Jordan says he is extremely grateful to the Point Foundation for their support and encouragement in his work.