By: Meredith Kamradt
Reporting from: The 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit (Kansas City, MO)
Attending my first LGBT Healthy Equity Summit today was incredibly inspirational, thought-provoking, and also tiring. Who knew that sitting for 8+ hours could be so exhausting!? My hands were sore from jotting down notes and clapping, and my cheeks felt stretched from smiling.
Of course it was all worth it! I heard so many stories of successful advocacy efforts – especially those states and localities working to institutionalize LGBT data collection efforts. I even met colleagues in Puerto Rico working entirely without funding, yet who have managed to make farther strides in data collection and tobacco abolition than many of us with far more funding and person-power. Before taking part in all of these discussions, however, we had the opportunity to hear about the future of the Network from the Chair of the Steering Committee, William Furmanski.
He didn’t bore us, and I won’t bore you either, because I certainly know that strategic planning and logic models can put the best of us asleep. Overall, William explained that the Network is looking to expand their goals outside of LGBT tobacco control to include general healthy active living. This reflects a shift in the broader world of public health, and it is necessary to keep up with these changes, as well as to simply continue to serve our LGBT communities in all of the important health issues.
As more and more inclusive data collection practices build the evidence of more widespread health disparities, I feel that the strategic planning of the Network will certainly pay off. It also excites me to think of the potential for collaboration between any number of health organizations, both LGBT-specific and not, who work on topics like access to fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy communities, and primary prevention of chronic disease. With such growth in the future, I’ll have another important reason to continue to return to the Summit, and hopefully so will many others!
Tomorrow I’ll be at the first day of the National Conference on Tobacco or Health, and I’ll continue to write about my experiences at the LGBT Health Equity Summit, as well as sessions from the National Conference that are pertinent to this blog, for the next few days. And of course, I cannot thank the Network for LGBT Health Equity enough for the scholarship that allowed me to attend today’s summit!