Final project idea and peer consultation

Brie Scolaro, LMSW

I have been working with Minority Stress Theory (MST) a lot in my work with LGBTQ practice and policy issues. Dr. Illan Meyer, a White man from Columbia University, is typically credited for developing this theory, and is the most widely cited author on this issue. However, last semester I did a deep dive in minority stress theory in my theory class, exploring more the positionality of the theorists themselves, and I actually learned about the work of Dr. Virginia Brooks. Dr. Brooks published her dissertation, “Minority Stress in Lesbian Women” nearly 15 years before Dr. Meyer ever mentioned working on this issue.

Here is a brief blog post about this!

I found one brief article about her online and took it upon myself to get a physical copy of the dissertation from the Hunter library. There is no online copy of this dissertation which I feel has greatly contributed to the near complete erasure of Dr. Virginia Brooks. From individual awareness raising, the first 1-2 research publications have begun to cite her (mostly trans and non binary scholars / focused researches).

Last semester my professors was a leading scholar in the field of stress theory and had never heard of Dr. Brooks. I also brought this up to my GradD mentor, an expert in sex and sexuality, who also never heard of her!

I still have a physical copy next to me that I keep renewing from the library.

I am left with questions and a desire to do something, especially as a queer therapist. MST has paved the way for so much advocacy work, but its more radical, feminist predecessor was left untouched. Even when the preface was written by someone in a position of power who claimed something along the lines of, “Dr. Brooks’s work on minority stress will shortly become a critical textbook at all major universities.” Crickets…

How can I get this thing online?” I tried to buy a copy of this dissertation but it is not possible. The publisher is located in another country and it is not available for purchase anymore.

I wonder if there is any way to get this dissertation online and into the hands of scholars, through working with the library.

I wonder what copyright issues are present, and what forces buried (continue to bury??) this work.

I wonder how I can insert this work into the academic space, and as such, what the consequence is for the field of minority stress research, queer studies, etc etc.
I consulted with Sean this week and we had a fantastic discussion that left me motivated to explore this. From that meeting I am left with an idea to explore the universities she was associated with and see what bread crumbs i can find there.

Speaking to Katina, I am compelled to keep a log of my journey – my questions, my challenges, and notes in issues of power, precarity and care that arise.

Proposed Action Plan

  1. Speak with classmates with experience in libraries/archives (Jen? Others?)
  2. Speak with Roxane Shirazi at the GC library
  3. Create log for recording experiences, stakeholder conversations, and notes on power/precarity/care in taking on this work
  4. Continue to identify breadcrumbs and see where things go!!!!

For my peers: Do you know anything about this issue that can help me? Does anything else come to mind when you read my post and/or learn about my proposed project? Lmk!!

3 thoughts on “Final project idea and peer consultation

  1. Jen Hoyer (she/her)

    Hey Brie! I think that you should create a Wikipedia article about Dr. Virginia Brooks; I can’t find one. I would be happy to help you figure out the next steps for that 🙂

  2. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    ^^^ great idea from Jen! There are lots of resources online for getting started; this slide deck from Laurie Hurson at the GC gathers a lot of them:

    A question unrelated to the project itself: How do folks feel about capitalization of “white” in racial discourse? I typically capitalize Black but not white, following AP guidelines ( But I know this isn’t a clear-cut decision and other organizations/publications have gone a different route. Curious to hear what others think?

    1. Brieanna Scolaro (They) Post author

      I love that you pointed this out. To me it is a given, but I realize this may not be the case/business as usual for all. it is interesting this is not in the AP guidelines.

      Sharing this quote on the matter from the MacArthur Foundation

      “We will also begin capitalizing White in reference to race. Choosing to not capitalize White while capitalizing other racial and ethnic identifiers would implicitly affirm Whiteness as the standard and norm. Keeping White lowercase ignores the way Whiteness functions in institutions and communities.”

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