HOUSTON, TX - There's a long list of challenges the LGBT community faces; discrimination, employment issues, civil rights, but one that's sometimes overlooked by the mainstream – healthcare.
“There's challenges in both just getting in the door, and making sure that it's paid for, there's some anxiety in going to health care providers, are they going to ask me the right questions?” says Vanessa Schick, Ph. D., Assistant Professor at University of Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health.
And traditionally, HIV has bogarted much of the attention.
“HIV is still incredibly important, it's still a passion of mine, but it's time that we move beyond just HIV. and we start looking at the needs of the rest of our community,” explains Mike Wilkerson, Ph. D., Assistant Professor at University of Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health.
Enter the brand new Montrose Research Institute. It's a collaboration between the Montrose Center, an organization with extremely close ties with the LGBT community, and the University of Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health.
“It's incredibly important that the voice of the community be in academic literature.... It's really important to do research with the community, and not on the community,” says Wilkerson.
Their first project”Tell Us Texas,” is trying to find out how healthcare can better meet the needs of the LGBT community, directly from the voices of that community. One that isn't always comfortable speaking up.
“We're excited that we're going to kinda get to people that normally aren't heard, to those quiet voices, all throughout Texas,” says Kent Loftin, Chief Development Officer of the Montrose Center.
“This is our chance to do a needs assessment… what would they like in terms of programming, in terms of services?” adds Wilkerson.
The confidential survey is on the Montrose Center's Facebook page, or on MontroseCenter.org. It's not always comfortable speaking up, but that doesn't make it any less important.