Gustavo Torrez Program Manager The Network for LGBT Health Equity Arkansas Lovin’
I am excited to be back in Arkansas… As our avid followers know, the Network has been doing some work with Minority Sub-Recipients Grants Office (MSRGO) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) around LGBT Tobacco control efforts over the past year and a half which has truly been amazing. (I have included links to our previous blogs at the end of the post if you would like more background.)
In partnership with the Arkansas Department of Health, MSRGO brought the Network to Little Rock to assist in the phase two development of an LGBT tobacco control coalition. The first convening sponsored by the ADH focused on reviewing current research showcasing LGBT health disparities, as well as exploring the idea of developing a state wide LGBT health coalition. There were over 30 folks in the room from local community groups, tobacco control programs, the Department of Education, as well as offices throughout the DOH which lead to some vibrant conversation.
The Main Discussion – Linking Community: Reducing Disparity, from the last visit focused on 6 key priority areas. We are using this discussion as we begin to formalize the statewide coalition on this visit.
1. Who is at the Table
Understanding who is at the table: We had some great representation from the Department of Education, Department of Health Staff from across all departments, current grantees from both statewide tobacco control programs (ADH) & (MSRGO), general health and tobacco focused community groups, LGBT youth serving organization, LGBT African American health focused organization, and Hispanic/Latino community service organizations.
2. Who is Missing
A challenge we discussed early on was who is missing:
Additional members of the LGBT Community – including other LGBT Diversity Groups
Faith Based Orgs
LGBT Clubs/Bar owners
Colleges/Universities – GSA
3. Coalition Goals
After scanning and discussing strategies for building the coalition Goals for the Group emerged:
- Bridge the gap – connect the LGBT community into the work we all do
- Educating the community around LGBT health disparities
- Engage in LGBT counter marking efforts
- Getting additional orgs listed outlined during the who’s missing discussion involved
- Address issues faced by the LGBT community around bulling and stigma, which lead to negative health outcomes
- Provide opportunities for others to become an ally to LGBT community
- Rallying the troops to make change
- Creation of Safe environments for LGBT community / Changing Climate
- Data, Data, Data… the need for data is key!
4. Current Opportunities
Some discussion took place around Current Opportunities to reach or address LGBT health disparities.
- Pride Events
- MSRGO Events
- DOH Events
- Current ADH & MSRGO funded groups
5. Current Barriers
In an effort to help frame our work moving forward it was important to have a real discussion around discussed Current Barriers. Some initial barriers identified are similar to other localities.
- Work to breakdown Personal Barriers with working with LGBT communities
- Stigma still an issue in Arkansas
- Need to have more LGBT community members at the table
- Many are overworked
- Some LGBT groups in Arkansas are volunteer based so need to be flexible with meeting times
- Lack of urgency from some
- Inability to access volunteer based groups
- Public health messaging is out dated
- Transportation to/Location of meetings
6. Action Planning Part One: Looking Towards the Future
The richest part of the conversation was focused around Action Planning Part One: Looking Towards the Future, were the group outlined future efforts to begin formalizing the coalition and addressing LGBT health disparities.
- Establish LGBT Coalition Goals and Objectives
- Conduct LGBT wellness Needs Assessment
- Continue to build relationships with community groups to develop LGBT coalition
- Gaining support from non-traditional groups