Funding · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Pride · Resources · Staff/Program Updates · State Work · Technical Assistance · Updates

A Year In Review: Spotlight on North Dakota Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program



Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity

When I started working with the Network almost 4 years ago the first state I had the pleasure to visit was North Dakota. During my visit I conducted two LGBT Cultural Competency training one for their grantees, and another at their Annual Statewide Alcohol and Substance Abuse Summit. At that time they were thinking about strategies to include LGBT communities in their tobacco control work and have not looked back since. I had the privilege of going back and spoke at the 3rd annual statewide GLBTQA conference held at the University of North Dakota this past

Left to Right: Neil Charvat, Gustavo Torrez, Rep. Kayie Overson, Rep Josh Boschee, and Krista Headland
Left to Right: Neil Charvat, Gustavo Torrez, Rep. Kayie Overson, Rep Josh Boschee, and Krista Headland

April, and was overjoyed at the progress they have made over the past couple years in terms of community support for LGBT tobacco control efforts. At times we can see progress through emails and updates here and there, but to actually see the level of community support for LGBT Tobacco Control efforts was absolutely amazing. From local LGBT groups to State Representatives its was truly refreshing especially for a state like North Dakota.  Over the past couple of years work in North Dakota has not stopped, in fact the work has grown to include more and more folks in the community committed to LGBT Tobacco Control efforts in the state. Neil Charvat, Community Health Specialist with the Chronic Disease Program at the North Dakota Department of Health has truly made some huge strides in the state. Neil has been charged with the talk of LGBT inclusion efforts and has forged many partnerships which have truly shaped the direction of their efforts. Most recently, a great article was published North Dakota puts $2,500 in anti-smoking funds toward Fargo pride festival, highlighting some of these efforts.

I wanted to take a moment and showcase in depth some of the great work that has taken place over the past year, and thank Neil for his commitment to inclusion efforts in North Dakota. I am so proud of the work that he has not only accomplished, but how the Department has truly institutionalized LGBT tobacco Control efforts in North Dakota. Please read his article below as he article below –  Engaging Disparate Populations: North Dakota LGBT Communities.

Neil Charvat
North Dakota Department of Health
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
Fiscal Year July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013

Engaging Disparate Populations: North Dakota LGBT Communities

The Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) in the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) work to engage populations disparately effected by tobacco use on a statewide level. One of the populations identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as having high tobacco use rates and being targeted by the tobacco industry is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Efforts to engage North Dakota’s LGBT communities in tobacco control efforts have been made since 2008, varying degrees of success. The main obstacle has been identifying LGBT groups in North Dakota. The NDDoH TPCP was fortunate to become involved in Fargo-Moorhead Pridefest for the first time in 2011. FM Pridefest is the largest LGBT event held in North Dakota. This initial effort was to provide NDQuits information and materials to event attendees. In 2012 the ND DoH was again invited to be a part of FM Pridefest. In July, NDQuits marketing tools were utilized at the FM Pridefest 5K Run-Walk, and that event was tobacco-free. NDQuits material and information were promoted at the FM Pride in the Park in August. ND DoH staff attended the event. The staff was able to promote cessation efforts as well as provide information about tobacco issues that directly affected the LGBT community in North Dakota.

NDDoH TPCP staff had the opportunity to meet with Julia Geigle at the University of North Dakota. Julia is a graduate student at UND working on LGBT health issues. The meeting was to discuss the issue of tobacco use in the LGBT community, and the health impacts that resulted from that use. Information on engaging the LGBT community and promoting NDQuits cessation services were provided to Julia. As a result of this meeting, Julia invited the TPCP staff to participate in a UND LGBT conference in April, 2013. NDDoH was able to involve Gustavo Torrez from the Fenway Institute in the UND Conference. Gustavo travelled to the conference to present on LGBT tobacco and health issues. Gustavo was also able to engage North Dakota legislators in attendance by providing information on LGBT health issues. The conference was well attended by the UND LGBT campus community. As a result of the success of this event, there are plans to incorporate more events like this into the newly created ND Campus Tobacco Prevention Project. This project will involve most college campuses in North Dakota.

The NDDoH TPCP will continue to engage the LGBT in future tobacco prevention work for the next fiscal year.

Presentations · Staff/Program Updates · Updates · webinar

Join Me For a Live Webcast: The Passion and Power of Young People in the Ongoing Fight Against Tobacco

Kenneth E. Warner | Lecture Series

The Passion and Power of Young People in the Ongoing Fight Against Tobacco


Wednesday July 24, 2013 from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM EDT

Add to Calendar



In-person attendance is limited to those attending the CTFK Youth Advocacy Symposium and Legacy Youth Leadership Institute Training. No registration is necessary to view the live webcast.


On Wednesday, July 24th, Legacy and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) will host a special youth-led panel discussion, as part of the Kenneth E. Warner Series Lecture, which will highlight the power and passion of youth engagement in tobacco control.

Young leaders will discuss the challenges and successes of the movement and, with the upcoming release of the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s report, its significance in the future of tobacco control for years to come.

The live webcast will be archived for your convenience.

Moderator: Ritney Castine, Associate Director of Youth Advocacy, CTFK (Former Legacy Youth Board Liaison)


  • Chad Bullock, Founding Director of Forget Tobacco
  • Kaitlyn Reilly, Communications Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Anna Santayana, Grassroots Marketing Coordinator for Legacy (Former crew marketer for the truth®tour)
  • Lee Storrow, Managing Director of the NC Alliance for Health and Member of the City Council for North Carolina Chapel Hill (Former Legacy Youth Board Liaison)

& Yours Truly…. 

  • Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager for the Network for LGBT Health Equity


For more information, please contact Laura Cruzada at or 202-341-0324.

LGBT Policy · Resources · State Work · Tobacco Policy

California Elected Officals Take A Stand For Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               


(415) 436-9182


LGBT Partnership Announces List of California Elected Officials Who Have Taken a Stand for Health

73 state and local officials signed statements

that they would not accept tobacco industry contributions

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership (LGBT Partnership) today released its “Clean Money” list of state and local elected officials who have agreed to refuse tobacco industry contributions. Each official signed a statement that he or she would not accept donations from tobacco companies or distributors.

Tobacco use, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for nearly six million deaths in the world each year. “Many elected officials told us that they don’t want to have anything to do with the tobacco companies”, said Bob Gordon, member of the San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition and Project Director of the LGBT Partnership. “They understand the terrible costs we all pay in terms of damaged health, lost productivity and shortened lives.” According to the national organization Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in California alone, the tobacco industry spends a half billion dollars every year to market itself, while Californians are left to shoulder $9.1 Billion annually in health care costs directly attributable to tobacco use.

Elected officials joined the signature campaign for several reasons. In a survey conducted by an outside evaluator, several officeholders indicated that the opportunity to sign the statement aligned with their interests. One indicated “This is a good opportunity for legislators to stand out in a positive way”. One staff member, before meeting with advocates, learned for the first time details about how the tobacco industry targets vulnerable populations “how it advertises to African Americans, Latinos, LGBTs, Asian Americans, and to a degree, to young kids—particularly disturbing”.

A full list of elected officials who have signed a no-tobacco statement is available at

About the California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership

The California Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Tobacco Education is funded by California’s Tobacco Control Program.  The LGBT Partnership advocates for policies limiting tobacco industry donations and reducing the availability of tobacco.



May Updates From The Network


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity



May has been a busy month filled with submitting new proposals, wrapping-up projects, and visioning for the future as we prepare to close out our current cooperative agreement. We would like to start the month by highlighting a huge win for the Network and our communities. In 2010 the Network released two action alerts and undertook major efforts to generate comments to integrate LGBT people into the future Federal Cultural page3and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards. We are pleased to report a win a huge win as the new enhanced National CLAS Standards have adopted an expanded definition of culture that now includes sexual orientation and gender identity. To top it off the implementation plan even urges trainings and data collection. Dr. Scout highlights it all in his Blog:  After Quite a Long Time: Federal Cultural Competency WIN.

Currently we have two major efforts taking place as we close out our current cooperative agreement. We are in the process of conducting our annual membership survey and our State Census. Our last state Census was 5 years ago; we look forward to see how far LGBT tobacco control efforts have come since then.

As part of our on going technical assistance efforts we have submitted two new proposals this month. The two are both to continue our work Arkansas with both the Minority Initiative Sub-Recipients Grants Office (MISRGO) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). We propose to facilitate the statewide Arkansas LGBT Health Initiative, including implementation and reporting. Unfortunately, after a year of waiting, we also received unwelcome news about our FDA TRACE proposal. While we received a good review, due to internal changes they decided not to fund any applicants. This proposal was a formal collaboration between ourselves, six governmental agencies, and five other LGBT community health partners. It was a complicated project to develop and while we’re sad none are being funded, we are still grateful to the many collaborators who invested in our vision with us.

Early in May Dr. Scout was invited to attend a planning session for the Association of State and Territorial Health Directors. Dr. Scout and the other disparity population representatives provided input for their strategic direction on disparities. We look forward to reporting outcomes from that event; one immediate positive outcome for us was an invitation to advise the National Association of City and County Health Officials on their LGBT policy.

cdc_tips2_ellie_mag_previewAs in last month’s report we are still heavily focused supporting CDC’s “Tips from Former Smokers” Campaign”. The Network continues to focus on efforts to increase visibility of the campaign to the LGBT market. Currently along with our sister networks we have been collecting tips from members in our community on their quit process which is housed on the National Networks Joint Site. We have highlighted on our blog stories collected from our network base and still encourage folks to share their stories with us. In addition there was a great article CDC Features Florida Lesbian Couple on the Joe.My.God blog this month worth highlighting. Phase two of the Tips campaign launched with the “Talk to your Doctor” series, highlighted in Dr. Scout’s blog as he covered the press release event in DC this month.

Dr. Scout was also able to connect with the Surgeon General while at that launch event and we are optimistic we’ll be having an in-person meeting with her in the near future. While in DC, Dr. Scout helped convene the second meeting of the Williams Institute Gender Identity In US Surveillance expert group. This group released a brief state of the science review recently and is now turning that into a full report.

In other notes, we have a variety of new blog posts this month. Is your home or vehicle smoke-free? Are we protecting the ones we care about and love, highlights CDC’s newest report Smoke-Free Rules and Secondhand Smoke Exposure in Homes and Vehicles Among US Adults, 2009–2010. Additionally, May 17th commemorated the day in 1990 that the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses which Daniella writes in her blog, Today is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Steering Committee member Juan Carlos Vega from Puerto Rico posted another great blog in Spanish this month; University of Puerto Rico undergraduate students discuss LGBTT health issues / Estudiantes de la Universidad de Puerto Rico discuten asuntos de salud en las comunidades LGBTT, furthering discussions around LGBTT health issues affecting our communities in Puerto Rico. As a reminder our blog is a major source of communication, linking people to information so to stay up to date on Network activities make sure you follow us.


Is your home or vehicle smoke-free? Are we protecting the ones we care about and love…


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity


Today CDC released a new report Smoke-Free Rules and Secondhand Smoke Exposure in Homes and Vehicles Among US Adults, 2009–2010. “With almost 50% of US residents are protected by smoke-free regulations in worksites, restaurants and bars, it is estimated that 88 million of non-smoking americans over the age of three are exposed to second hand smoke,” said Brian King, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and lead author of the study released today. While growing up I was exposed to secondhand smoke reguralrly, and am pleased to know that so many americans adopt voluntary smoke-free polices for their homes and cars. Not only does it help to keep the value of your home and vehicle high, its protects the ones you love.

Four out of five U.S. adults report having voluntary smoke-free rules in their homes and three out of four report having voluntary smoke-free rules in their vehicles, according to a study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The National Adult Tobacco Survey respondents were classified as having smoke-free rules if they never allow smoking inside their homes or vehicles.  The study is the first to present estimates of smoke-free rules and secondhand smoke exposure in vehicles among U.S. adults.  Despite the high prevalence of voluntary smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles, the study found that almost 11 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in their home, and almost 17 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in a vehicle.  The study also contains state-by-state data showing that the highest prevalence of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles occurred in many states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and longstanding tobacco control programs.

Additional study findings include:

  • Eighty-one percent of U.S. adults report having smoke-free rules in their homes and 74 percent have smoke-free rules in their vehicles
  • Eighty-nine percent of non-smokers report having smoke-free home rules, while only 48 percent of smokers have them.
  • Eighty-five percent of non-smokers report having smoke-free vehicle rules, while only 27 percent of smokers have them.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers in homes and vehicles was greatest among men, younger adults, non-Hispanic blacks, and those with a lower level of education.
  • Many of the states with the lowest prevalence of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles are states with a high prevalence of adult smoking.

Exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in adult non-smokers.  In children, secondhand smoke exposure causes more severe and frequent asthma attacks, acute respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths each year in the United States.  The Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and that only 100 percent smoke-free policies can protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.  Opening a window does not work, nor does any other ventilation system.

The research is solid and we understand the implications smoking has on our health and our families. We understand that smoking is a hard habit to kick, but with help you can do it. For more resources on quitting visit or call your state quitline at 1-800-Quit-Now!

The online version of the article is available at

Show Me MO

Got LGBT policy initiatives? Missouri does… New Blog Series “Show Me MO”


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity

As you may know from my previous blog LGBT HEALTH POLICY CHANGES COMING TO MISSOURI Scout and I have been providing technical assistance to two amazing groups in MO funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH). The Project is solely focused on LGBT health policy change initiatives, which is huge. We are really excited this project will be able to develop state-level policy change models that we can replicate across the country. The Missouri Foundation for Health is truly a pioneer not only in providing funding for such an initiative but having long standing history in ensuring LGBT communities are served in the state. Both SAGE and PROMO have been focusing on innovative policy change initiatives poised to have lasting impact in the state, with long-term implications aiding in changing social norms for local LGBT people in MO.

In an effort to highlight some of the amazing work going on in MO, we will be launching a series blogs written by the project leads at both SAGE and PROMO. The goal of the series is to highlight notable policy advancements, project successes, and process pieces leading to sustainable policy changes in the state. I would like to take a moment to introduce our two new guest bloggers, Tracy McCreery and Sherrill Wayland. We have established a new category on the blog (Show Me MO) to highlight and follow these posts. Make sure you check back often to follow the drama of building real-world state level health policy change.

Tracy McCreery, Public Policy Manager at PROMO
Tracy McCreery, Public Policy Manager at PROMO
Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director of SAGE
Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director of SAGE

Arkansas LGBT Health Initiative · Staff/Program Updates · Technical Assistance

Statewide LGBT Health Initiative takes off in Arkansas


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity

As you may have see by my last post: Arkansas taking major efforts to reduce LGBT Tobacco and Health Disparities, great things are happening in Arkansas.

The Network is pleased to be facilitating the development of this joint initiative supported by the Minority Initiative Sub-Recipients Grants Office (MISRGO) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

Over the past two days, I have been working with local community groups, MISRGO & DOH on discussing priorities for the groups, and we are arkansas-mappleased to announce the first initial project will be a statewide LGBTQ needs assessment. With an expected launch day of June 1st, we look forward to moving the project forward. With June being PRIDE month, there will be many opportunities to promote the needs assessment.

Our next visit will be May 20th, 2013 where we will convene the group at the Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR), Arkansas CenterLink Affiliate. As the leading youth LGBTQ center in Arkansas there is no better place to host the next meeting.

Just a little side note… We first introduced CAR to both MISRGO and ADH during our first visit to Arkansas back over two years ago during our cultural competency training sponsored by MISRGO. As part of our formal partnership with CenterLink and Equality Federation, we always reach out to both groups to identify local affiliates before we conduct such trainings. By incorporating local LGBT groups into our trainings we are not only providing local perspective, but access points to assist in understanding and reaching the LGBT community in the respective state.

Anyways, during our next visit to Arkansas we will focus on developing a dissemination plan for the needs assessment with a focus on both, the youth/young adult populations as well as minority populations throughout Arkansas.

We look forward to further development of the initiative, and working with both MISRGO and ADH collectively in an effort to reduce LGBT health disparities in Arkansas.


Arkansas taking major efforts to reduce LGBT Tobacco and Health Disparities



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

Medical Community

Faith Based Orgs

LGBT Clubs/Bar owners


Elected officials

Colleges/Universities – GSA

Youth Leaders

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

Background Blogs:

I am an Arkansas Traveler…Granted by the Secretary of State and Governor of the Great State of Arkansas

Utilizing Partnerships to Build and Sustain the Movement- Reporting from Arkansas

Creative problem solving and Arkansas

Connecticut and Arkansas…Expanding Services to be more culturally competent




Recap of the 3rd annual GLBTQA Statewide conference in North Dakota


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity


I had such a great trip to North Dakota and was pleased to be asked to present and sit on the closing panel: of the 3rd annual North Dakota GLBTQA conference.ND GRoup

My session Truth: Social Justice and Health explored our work for equality and basic rights, as well as other social justice issues, such as health access and equity, which is often left out of the LGBT movement. While taking an expanded look at LGBT health disparities within the historical context of the equality movement, the presentation concentrated on tobacco use within our communities. As one of the most attended sessions, I was pleased to see the amount of support for a tobacco centered presentation at an LGBT conference. I opened the presentation with a brief history of the LGBT movement, and was surprised to find that very few of the participants knew what the Compton cafeteria riots were or even the Stonewall riots. There have been many pioneers that have shaped the future for us all and this rich history should be discussed more. Overall the presentation went really well, and I showed a video that really had people thinking about where we been and where we are going with our movement which I would like to share with you all:

The Gay Rights Movement

I always love to hear how grateful conference participates are to have national support at their “small little conference”. Our work in North Dakota would not be happening if it was not for the dedication and commitment by not only the local Department of Health, Tobacco Control Programs but more importantly the allies working tirelessly to partner with local community groups because they understand the importance of comprehensive LGBT tobacco control efforts in their state. With a focus on cessation and community partnerships, Neil Charvat, community Health Specialist with the Chronic Disease Program at the Department of Health has worked to build relationships with community groups, which led conference organizers to dedicate a workshop specific to health with a focus on tobacco control. This is a prime example of how beneficial it is to partner with local LGBT groups and organizations. I want to commend Neil and the many others for their passion for tobacco control and as allies they are shining examples of how one person can make the world of difference. I don’t think we thank the allies enough for their support as they stand in solidarity next to us working to combat tobacco use within our communities.

Left to Right: Neil Charvat, Gustavo Torrez, Rep. Kayie Overson, Rep Josh Boschee, and Krista Headland

Additionally, while at the conference I attended a morning workshop presented by Josh Boschee and Kayie Overson titled Get Engaged: Political Activism in North Dakota and Legislative Update. The workshop was an informal open discussion about how to advance issues of importance through legislation and grassroots action. While they shared their experience in political activism, opportunities for leadership development and lesions learned during the 2013 North Dakota legislative session.

I initially meet Josh a little over two and a half years ago when I was in North Dakota conducting Cultural Competency trainings for Department of health grantees, and at their annual substance abuse conference. Josh is now the first openly gay representative in North Dakota to secure a seat in the House of Representatives, representing District 44. It was great to catch up with him, and to meet District 42 Representative Kayie Overson at the conference. I am proud to see Josh in his role, as it provides hope for other LGBT young people who are interested running for public office.

I always enjoy speaking at conferences such as this. It’s so great to hear from the community on the ground, they are so grateful to have someone from a national group care about their state of North Dakota. The Network is focused on creating sustainable change; we are steadfast in supporting our states, and community groups no matter the locality.

Conferences · Presentations

Communities unite in North Dakota for the 3rd annual GLBTQA Statewide Conference – Discover The Movement


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
Good morning form chilly North Dakota



Its been over two years since I was last in North Dakota, and when I was asked to speak at the 3rd annual GLBTQA conference I was overjoyed at the progress they have made over the past couple years.  The Folks with the North Dakota Department of Health, Tobacco Control Program (DOH) are steadfastly working on LGBT inclusion efforts. While facing multiple challenges they are dedicated to ensuring comprehensive inclusion whenever possible. One of the key messages we tell states is to partner with local LGBT groups. We cannot stress this enough, if you show up to community events, conferences etc. you forge partnerships that will be invaluable in serving the community. It was the dedication of staff at the DOH, which lead conference organizers to allocate a specific slot in their agenda focused on Health and Tobacco, thus making it very difficult to say know to my friends at the DOH. This is the importance of collaborations, and making your presence known.0_0_0_0_539_404_csupload_54503476

My presentation: LGBT Health & Social Justice will take a look at our movement with a social justice framework, taking a walk through the LGBT movement, with a focus on tobacco use in the LGBT community.  I will also be sitting on a closing panel to recap the day, visioning for the future.

The conference aims to discover where the LGBTQA movement is; nationally, statewide, and personally.  With an emphasis on what the movement mean for individuals, identifying interest and direction for folks in attendance, and what folks in North Dakota can accomplish as a unified collective! With workshops designed to dig into these issues, they have various panels with community members, and Natalie (Klueg) Clark as their opening keynote.

The conference stands as a longstanding reminder of the tradition of support, education, and advocacy in GLBTQA activism in North Dakota. I look forward to a great day and most of all continued progress in North Dakota.