by Gustavo Torrez Program Manager January/February updates from the Network
Action was the theme as we started our year. First step in January was to participate in a media training by Renna Communications, one you’ll see we put to good use immediately. Then we moved onto electing a new Chair of our Steering Committee; we are pleased to report William Furmanski, a Vice President from American Legacy Foundation, has moved into this role. Our heartfelt thanks go to the outgoing Chair, Dr. Francisco Buchting. He led the Steering Committee wonderfully through the critical startup phase.
In general work we continued pushing our Action Alert to get local advocates to urge inclusion in the $100M of recently awarded Community Transformation Grants. Dr. Scout worked with disparity networks in Minnesota particularly, where they presented a petition with over 2,000 signatures to state officials asking for better disparity population inclusion. We also continued to advocate for tailored disparity ads in the coming $40M CDC tobacco control media campaign. After a few meetings, it looks like CDC is exploring tailoring LGBT ads. We also launched registration and opened the abstract submission process for our coming Tobacco Summit. For the main National Conference on Tobacco or Health, we’re proud to report we worked with others to successfully ensure there will be a plenary on disparity populations for the first time since 2005. Finally we continued to urge Network members to attend the rounds of HHS LGBT health listening sessions across the country.
We ended January strongly, showcasing the Network at the Annual Creating Change Conference in Baltimore MD. Network Staff along with two Blogging Scholarship recipients, Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz from Puerto Rico, and Hector Martinez from San Diego manned the Network booth, posted blogs, and networked advancing our mission. Each year the Network launches an Action Alert at Creating Change, this year we were collecting signatures petitioning HHS to ensure Transgender inclusion in the National Health Interview Survey. Immediately following the conference Scout and Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz went to a scheduled listening session with the Office of Civil Rights at HHS. Scout testified about how changes in LGBT inclusion would mean little unless they were promoted at every level (e.g. people won’t know to expect culturally competent care at a quitline). Sophia testified about the extreme violence and access to care problems encountered by trans people in Puerto Rico. We had a huge win setting up additional meetings about Puerto Rico, ultimately over two dozen federal officials met on Monday to discuss the violation of human rights and lack of access to care for transsexual women in Puerto Rico. Click here to read the joint press release on these great meetings or here to see some great follow-up press.
In the weeks following we were on the road again. Gustavo joined Dr. Francisco Buchting in Oakland for a cross-Network meeting with the head of the Office on Smoking and Health to discuss Network sustainability into the next funding cycle. Current outlook is cautiously optimistic. Gustavo was also able to meet with the Advocacy and Data dissemination to achieve Equity for Priority populations on Tobacco (ADEPT) project recipients; A project funded to build the capacity of California’s priority populations to effectively respond to tobacco control and other social justice issues.
In the week following, Scout was in Philadelphia representing TFI and the Network at the first ever White House LGBT Health Conference. While there we delivered the petition from Creating Change about keeping trans data collection moving with over 600 Signatures to Secretary Sebelius’ representative. Read some of Scout’s thoughts on the event here in this Advocate article: White House Holds LGBT Health Conference. We’ll be posting more on our own blog in the near future.
Closing out the month, the Network submitted our annual re-application for CDC outlining our scope of work for the upcoming year, the final one in this award. As many of you may know, one of our major efforts in 2012 will be the 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit. Additionally, keeping our focus on sustainability we will also roll out our new Best/Promising Practices model and create papers publicly documenting key areas of Network knowledge