February Updates From The Network

As we closed out January leading into February the Network had full representation at this year’s Creating Change 2013 Conference (CC13). Joined by our Blogging Scholarship Recipient Alex Aldana along with two guest bloggers Josh Gale and Trevoi Crump from National Youth Pride Services, we were able to showcase many of the great workshops and events that took place at CC13.

photo copyEvery year at Creating Change the Network facilitates an education campaign; this year we launched our Governors Initiative. This is a community based best practices initiative focused on bridging the gap between LGBT individuals and health by engaging them to send a postcard to their governor asking if LGBT health best practices are being implemented in their state. We have printed four questions on the postcards, each based on our MPOWERED best practices: Does the state collect LGBT data as a routine part of all health surveys (such as BRFSS & YRBS), are health department and grantee staff trained in LGBT cultural competency and health disparities, are LGBT people included in community advisory bodies, are LGBT images routinely reflected in public health promotional materials? We are very pleased to report we already have postcards collected for thirty different states.

Arkansas Group ShotThis month Gustavo visited Arkansas for the third time, this time expanding his technical assistance to a broader group of stakeholders from across the Arkansas Department of Health. On this trip, we’re pleased to report they launched a strategy we’d been suggesting to them on prior trips, the creation of an Arkansas LGBT Tobacco & Health Coalition. They are also implementing a larger scale LGBT integration strategy across the state department of health. To help this strategy Gustavo was able to meet with state health representatives from grants management, cessation, media, chronic disease, and HIV, among others. Gustavo also facilitated the largest LGBT health meeting in the state, a convening of 30 different community and state stakeholders beginning the work on their LGBT tobacco & health action plan. In order to strengthen the work in Arkansas, the Network is collaborating with The National LGBT Health Education Center here at the Fenway Institute, who has done some training with the University of Arkansas’ Medical Campus. As is our policy, we connected local state representatives with the local community based organizations that are part of CenterLink and the Equality Federation. In this case, Gustavo arranged for state staff to visit the Center for Artistic Revolution. We couldn’t be more pleased with Arkansas’ willingness to put best practice guidelines into the field and look forward to subtantive local changes as a result.

In a similar story, one of the states with whom we have been doing years of work had a success this month. West Virginia was the state that first asked us to outline the science justifying LGBT data collection, spurring our LGBT Tobacco Surveillance Briefing Paper. We’re happy to report this month their tobacco data release was led by the news of the LGBT smoking disparity, news that ultimately gained them coverage in the biggest state newspaper. See the story, including our quotes here.

In other assorted notes this month, the Network submitted an invited proposal to the Missouri Foundation for Health to provide Technical Assistance to a local health policy project. Dr. Scout submitted a section on tobacco for a forthcoming book, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. He has also been confirmed as the plenary speaker for Nebraska’s state tobacco conference in April. As follow-up to the last month’s request to Sebelius for more funded LGBT tobacco research, we also had a meeting with the head of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Dr. Lawrence Deyton. FDA’s CTP is investing heavily in new tobacco regulatory research. Dr. Deyton was very open to suggestions on how to ensure LGBT people (and all disparity populations) were included in the range of tobacco research; look for more information on that initiative in coming months.

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