The Haury Program provides support to strengthen a partnership advancing LGBTQ+ youth initiatives

June 22, 2020

Aiming to offer a safer, more inclusive educational ecosystem for LGBTQ+ youth, Deanna Lewis of UArizona College of Public Health, and Lisa Bowden at the Kore Press Institute (KPI) are partnering to address the root causes of gender-based violence. For Lewis and Bowden, the current educational ecosystem is not one cultivating safety and an ability to thrive for diverse youth in the Southwest. According to UArizona Associate Professor of Family Studies and Human Development, Dr. Russell B. Toomey, suicide and bullying rates are significantly higher for gay, gender non-conforming, and trans youth. Lewis and Bowden are aware that changing culture, mindsets, and resource allocation could be difficult without the right resources and decided to partner to launch the Gender Diversity Initiative (GDI). GDI received a one-year partnering award from the Haury Program in January 2020. The GDI is also a recipient of the Live Well Arizona Incubator Cohort, funded by the Vitalyst Foundation.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of extending the rights of millions of gay, lesbian, and transgender workers, moving forward LGBTQ+ rights. Still, the educational system needs a profound, structured transformation. The GDI goal is to generate systemic change in teacher education and policy. The initiative intends to address the need for teacher capacity building as it intersects with race, ability, and gender identities across the spectrum. These actions will help LGBTQ+ populations facing disproportionate injustices, bullying, discrimination, and other significant barriers to access living full lives, including the need for basic safety. Lewis and Bowden see the issue of security as a moral and environmental imperative.

Activities in the Gender Diversity Initiative include building specific skills and capacities that will support a successful, long-term collaboration and project between KPI and UArizona. This partnership will allow them to work across sectors, cultures, and generations, often with differently impacted populations, and potentially with folks who may not be allies. The cultivation of community-campus relationships between the UArizona College of Public Health and the transgender and gender diverse communities is essential in promoting conversations and collaborations. 

It's pride month. Let's celebrate all the LGBTQ+ initiatives! If you want to learn more about how to help go to Kore Press Institute has put together some tips for transgender youth and caregivers during the quarantine. The Kore Press Institute has done social justice work for women, girls, LGBTQ+ populations, and communities of color for 25 years in Tucson. KPI addresses social and cultural cohesion through literature, education, and productive community engagement for more sustainable and just ecosystems locally and nationally. Dr. Deanna Lewis has worked with KPI in the past on various short-term projects and intends to explore, build, and hone their existing relationship formally.

Photo Credits: Delia Giandeini (banner) and Tristan Billet (cover).