As regular participants in the Houston Pride Festival and Parade, UTHealth Houston has historically exhibited support and ally-ship to those within the LGBTQ+ community. The institution has for many years celebrated by organizing a float for the parade, t-shirts to unify employees and students, and strengthened their commitment to equality and love.
Furthering the institution’s participation, faculty and researchers at the UTHealth School of Public Health continued their involvement by conducting scholarly work and utilizing the event as an opportunity to survey and connect with the LGBTQ+ community. “We’re there to get a pulse on the population’s health behaviors so that we can adjust our healthcare programs to responds the needs of the LGBTQ+ population,” says Irene Tami-Maury, DMD, DrPH, MSc assistant professor with the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences.
This year’s event – first in-person festival since the COVID-19 pandemic – allowed Tami’s team to obtain well over 300 survey responses and interact closely with festivalgoers. “Through our UTHealth PRIDE Survey, we have developed collaborative efforts between the City of Houston Health Department, The University of Houston, the UT Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, among others, to further research and interventions on tobacco prevention and control, stroke-risk assessments, COVID-19, and sexual-health behavior, and other conditions relevant to the LGBTQ+ community,” said Tami.
Past Pride participation has informed smoking cessation interventions such as the Smokefree SGM (sexual and gender minority) campaign, a text-messaging-based program created in response to survey results collected at PRIDE. The initiative provides support and resources to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people seeking to quit smoking. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the SmokefreeSGM program offers access to text-messaging service that supports their quitting efforts, 10-week supply of nicotine patches, while allowing participants to remain anonymous during their participation in the program.
By utilizing this year’s data, additional project opportunities will continue to develop, while representing a great opportunity to masters and doctoral students who seek to increase their knowledge on sexual and gender research.