Youth Equity & Sexuality Lab

The Youth Equity & Sexuality research lab is focused on promoting positive adolescent and young adult sexuality development; preventing sexual violence; and fighting fascism, cis-hetero-patriarchy, and white supremacy.

Follow and join the conversation on twitter using #YouthEquitySexualityLab

Miriam R. Arbeit, PhD

To learn more about Dr. Mimi Arbeit and her work, please visit her faculty page.

Current Research Projects

Adults Interrupting Right-wing Recruitment of Youth (AIRRY)

This project investigates whether and how adults such as parents, teachers, and youth development professionals can interrupt attempts by far right and fascist groups to recruit youth into their ranks. The first paper from this project (Arbeit et al., 2020) integrates antifascist and youth development theories to present a framework for how youth development practitioners can counter fascist recruitment of youth. The Parent New Media Literacy study examines whether and how parents of adolescents recognize common far-right memes that youth may encounter online. This project focuses thus far on the specific and intersecting threats posed by youth exposure to white nationalist and male supremacist ideologies.

Arbeit, M. R., Burnham, S. L. F., de Four, D., & Cronk, H. (2020). Youth practitioners can counter fascism: What we know and what we need. Journal of Youth Development, 15(5), 37-67. 

Sexual Health Against Male Supremacism (SHAMS)

The SHAMS project investigates whether and how university staff engaged in sexual violence prevention efforts account for specific threats posed by male supremacist lies, manipulations, and conspiracy theories. We want to understand how best practices for sexual violence prevention can be combined with strategies for countering far-right influences in order to effectively respond to male supremacism in campus contexts. Manifestations of male supremacism in predominantly white institutions and intersections of male supremacism with white nationalism are examined. This project utilizes theory-building and resource-generating methods.

Black Women Against Misogynoir (BWAM)

This project examines the impact of far-right ideologies on Black women college students. We investigate how Black women undergraduate students encounter far-right misogynoir in college contexts, and if they report it. We use far-right misogynoir as a framework to understand the intersecting impacts of white nationalism, white supremacy, and male supremacy on Black women college students in order to improve educational spaces where Black women can thrive. This project uses theory-building methods to combine far-right studies and Black feminist scholarship to understand the experiences of Black women in higher education with regard to far-right misogynoir.

Current Graduate Students

I completed my undergraduate degree at Suffolk University and graduated in 2017 with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology. I continued my education at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island completing a master’s program in forensic and legal psychology under Dr. Alejandro Leguízamo. My master’s thesis examined perspectives of culpability and ideological frameworks with regard to attitudes towards hypothetical transgender/gender non-conforming defendants. I returned to Suffolk University for their new Applied Developmental Psychology Ph.D program to work with Dr. Mimi Arbeit. My current research interests are focused on far-right recruitment of youth by way of social media, and my current project assesses whether and to what extent parents of adolescents can identify white nationalist messaging on social media platforms. I have also been fortunate enough to be a doctoral research intern at Political Research Associates this past academic year.

Research Interests

Social media, critical media literacy, and the function of online political humor 

Publications and Presentations

Arbeit, M. R., Burnham, S. L. F., de Four, D., & Cronk, H. (in press). Youth Practitioners Can

Counter Fascism: What We Know and What We Need. Journal of Youth Development.

Leguízamo, A., Beliveau, P., Uber, J. R., Burnham, S., Conrad, M., & Zike, N. (2019). Diversity considerations in the application of evidence-based interventions with forensic clients. In E. L. Jeglic & C. Calkins (Eds.). New Frontiers in offender treatment - the translation of evidence-based practices to correctional settings. New York, NY: Springer.

Zike, N., Conrad, M., Burnham, S., Tooley, E., & Leguizamo, A. (2018, March). Ethnic Differences in Resilience, Perceived Stress, and Social Support. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association. Philadelphia, PA

Burnham, S. & Platania, J. (2018, June). Stereotypes Examined Through the Lens of Intersectionality and Integrated Threat Theory. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Pittsburgh, PA.

Milligan, C., Burnham, S., Khan, A., Kind, S., & Liverant, G. I. (2016, April). The relationship between symptom severity and emotion regulation strategy in veterans with unipolar depression. Presented at the Fenway Psychology Research Conference at Emmanuel College, Boston, MA.

Profile Picture of Alexandria Onuoha

Alexandria entered the Applied Developmental Psychology program in 2020, after completing her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Dance from Bates College. She is a second-year student in the program. She was raised in various parts of Massachusetts including Somerville, Cambridge, and Roxbury. Alexandria wanted to return  to the Boston area where her social justice efforts began. Her primary line of research examines the impact of far-right ideologies on Black adolescents’ development and explores the intersections of misogynoir and far-right ideologies. Alexandria is committed to using her research to cultivate evidence-based practices for higher education, Black families, technology, and other areas relevant to her research. She serves as the Director of Political Advocacy at Black Boston where she leads a team that engages with Black Bostonians and pushes for legislation that will reduce inequalities. Lastly, she is a mentee and board member of the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism working with experts in far-right studies to provide new theoretical understandings of threats posed by right-wing misogynist groups and individuals.

Research Interests

Positive youth development, Black feminist thought, far-right studies, college student development, online racism, language diversity, arts education

Publications and Presentations

MacKinnon, P., Onuoha, A.C., Raphael, S., Wade, S. (2021). Black Languages Matter: Code Meshing and Multilingual Poetry as Anti Racist Practices [workshop and presentation]. Maine Council for English Language Arts Annual Conference, virtual.

Onuoha, A. C. (2021). After Trump’s insurrection colleges should stop coddling the radical right. RANTT Media.

Onuoha, A. C. (2021). Attitudes towards Black queer individuals who are gender nonconforming [conference flash talk]. Society for Research in Child Development, virtual.

Onuoha, A.C. ( 2021). Digital misogynoir and white supremacy: What Black feminist theory can teach us about far right extremism. Global Network on Extremism & Technology.

Onuoha, A. C. (2021). For Toni, Audre, and Alice: Black women’s sexuality and spirituality in a shared space. Queen City Writers.

Onuoha, A.C. (2021). Support Black girlhood in the face of Black death. The Progressive.

Onuoha, A. C., Miller, A. N., Ramanayake, N.P., Mathew, L., Sawdy, M., Escobar, K. I. (2021). Social justice in the ivory tower: Is academia antithetical to activism? [conference roundtable]. 38th Annual Teachers College Winter Roundtable 2021: A Pandemic of Racism, virtual.

Anne joined the Applied Developmental Psychology program and the YES Lab in 2021. She recently completed a Masters in Instructional Leadership: Educational Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a member of the DREAM (Developing Racial Equity for and with Adolescents and in Mentoring) Research Group, under the direction of Dr. Bernadette Sánchez. Anne is also a graduate of Skidmore College, with a B.S. in Theater.

Anne spent nearly a decade as an educator for Catharsis Productions, where she traveled the world discussing sexual violence, bystander intervention, and diversity and inclusion with college students, military servicemembers, and businesses, using humor, improvisation, and facilitation to make topics that are often considered “taboo” approachable for audiences. Anne also developed and delivered in-house training programs to prepare new educators to lead engaging, research-based presentations. Her research interests include prevention and intervention against white supremacy, misogyny, and fascism for youth and youth practitioners, social justice and anti-racism education, sexuality development, positive youth development, and critical consciousness.

Interested in joining the lab ?

The YES lab will be accepting new doctoral students to start in Fall 2021, through the Applied Developmental Psychology PhD program. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Arbeit for more information. 

Youth Equity and Sexuality Lab Advisory Board

Duane de Four is an educator, media critic and activist with more than twenty years experience developing impactful strategic initiatives, policies, and curricula as well as facilitating highly-interactive, engaging trainings. He has published in SLUT: A Play and Guidebook for Combating Sexism and Sexual Violence, APEX Magazine, and his blog HowManly.com. His videos critiquing advertising, video games and other forms of media are available on YouTube (please feel free use any of them in your classrooms or other educational settings). Duane is currently working toward a PhD in Higher Education at UMass Boston, while teaching at Merrimack College and serving as a member of the MA Governor’s Council on SA/DV and the board of directors at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC).

Lisette M. DeSouza, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research scientist working with scholars at the National Institute on Out-of-School Time and at the Wellesley Centers for Women. Lisette takes an intersectional approach to the positive development of systematically marginalized youth, with the goal of youth- and community-initiated social change. This research agenda takes several forms: access to and involvement in quality youth development programs, workforce development, and civic engagement.

Emily Gorcenski is a Data Scientist by profession, a mathematician and engineer by training, and an activist by passion. Emily has over ten years of experience in scientific computing and engineering research and development. She has a background in mathematical analysis, with a focus on probability theory and numerical analysis. An advocate for social justice, Emily is an activist and survivor of the 2017 Charlottesville neo-Nazi attacks. This experience motivated her to research, track, and assess far-right threats in hope to understand the movement and to prevent future incidents. She was named as one of 2018’s most influential feminists by Bitch Magazine for her work in shining a light on far-right violence with her First Vigil project.

Elise Harris, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Associate on Metro Center’s Policy Research and Evaluation (PRE) team. Her primary area of research focuses on schooling practices and critical consciousness among youth, educators, and researchers. She leads PRE’s Exploring Youth Leadership Councils Study which is a four year, mixed methods study that examines whether and how youth leadership councils, a type of youth-adult partnership, foster developmental competencies and critical consciousness, both of which are associated with school engagement and later postsecondary outcomes.

Wagatwe Wanjuki is a feminist activist, speaker, writer, and digital strategist best known for her work as a national campus anti-violence advocate. Since launching a campaign for a better sexual assault policy at Tufts University in 2009, she's continued to work for a world free of gender-based violence. She's published in many popular outlets including BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan.com, and The New York Times.