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UCLA research center brings LGBTQ health out of the closet

UCLA Center for LGBTQ Advocacy, Research and Health

UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health has established a research center to focus on the health, safety and wellness of the LGBTQ community. The UCLA Center for LGBTQ Advocacy, Research & Health will conduct innovative research, train future leaders and health professionals related to LGBTQ health. Photo: UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health has established a research center to focus on the health, safety and wellness of the LGBTQ community.

The UCLA Center for LGBTQ Advocacy, Research & Health will conduct innovative research, train future leaders and health professionals related to LGBTQ health, according to a press statement released Thursday.

“For reasons that include historic and continuing discrimination and stigma, the LGBTQ population experiences unacceptable — and in many cases preventable — disparities in their physical and mental health compared with the overall population,” Ron Brookmeyer, dean of the Fielding School for Public Health, said in the release.

“The UCLA Center for LGBTQ Advocacy, Research & Health will provide much-needed research, training, and policy support that can contribute to reducing or eliminating these disparities,” he said.

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The Center also will train and mentor graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to support the growing demand for public health research focused on vulnerable sexual and gender minorities.

The center will establish a postdoctoral fellowship and certificate program in LGBTQ health and award pilot funding to researchers to generate data that can then be used in applications for larger government grants.

The center’s launching comes at a time when LGBTQ health has come out of the closet.

LGBTQ health disparities

For several years, health advocates have criticized the healthcare field for neglecting LGBTQ health care needs and the shortage of culturally competent doctors.

The LGBTQ community also faces several health disparities:

The American Medical Association’s philanthropic arm announced a national fellowship program in January that could be a game changer — The program that will train physicians and promote best practices on LGBTQ health while working to decrease LGBTQ health disparities.

Also, nurse practitioners are able to receive culturally competent training for LGBTQ healthcare thanks to the first fellowship of its kind in the nation.

The center plans to partner with various local organizations that serve and advocate for the sexual and gender minorities.

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The Trevor Project

One of those groups is The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that provides suicide prevention and crisis intervention services for LGBTQ youth.

“Limited LGBTQ-inclusive research, plus the lack of systematic data collection on LGBTQ communities, can make it even more difficult to address the unique mental health challenges of LGBTQ youth and the obstacles to care that they face,” Amit Paley, The Trevor Project’s CEO and executive director, said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with the center to educate policymakers, advocate for LGBTQ youth, and provide unique insight into their mental health,” Paley said.

Matthew Mimiaga

Matthew Mimiaga, an epidemiology professor at the Fielding School of Public Health, is the center’s director. He’s known for his research on sexual and gender minorities and the intersections of HIV, substance use, and mental health.

Mimiaga, who previously held faculty positions at Brown and Harvard universities, has had a 20-year research partnership and is an affiliated senior research scientist with The Fenway Institute in Boston, an interdisciplinary center for research, education, training and policy development to optimize health for sexual and gender minorities and those affected by HIV.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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