Waivers of parental consent for sexual minority youth

Ariel U. Smith, Seth J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine emphasizes the need for research to focus on the health outcomes of sexual minority youth (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer). However, sexual minority youth (SMY) are often less willing to participate in research studies where parental consent is required due to potential victimization and discrimination. This is a major concern given that more research is needed to understand the health needs of this population, especially in terms of suicide, substance use, and HIV prevention. The National Suicide Prevention Strategy classifies SMY as a high-risk group, emphasizing the need to explore suicide risks (along with other health outcomes) among this group. However, this high-risk classification also increases the safeguards necessary to conduct research with this population. Many researchers have argued for waivers of parental consent, but such waivers present with several ethical implications. This article discusses ethical principles, risks, benefits, safeguards, and potential alternative approaches to waivers of parental consent for SMY. We conclude by emphasizing the need for policy changes to allow parental consent waivers for research targeting SMY.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-390
Number of pages12
JournalAccountability in Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019


  • IRB
  • Sexual minority
  • parental consent
  • waiver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences


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