LGBTQ Community in Champaign County: Connectedness, Engagement, and Health


Uniting Pride of Champaign County logoAcademic mentor: Prof. Courtney Cuthbertson 

Community partner: Uniting Pride of Champaign County 

Community-Academic Scholars: Caterina Kim & Emily Pasetes

Project description:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicide than the general population, in part related to unique risk factors such as family and social rejection, stigma, and discrimination or victimization related to sexual orientation or gender identity. Minority stress, meaning that occupying a minoritized status results in additional stress from navigating to hostile or negative interactions and environments, negatively influences mental health. Community connectedness can help people to heal following traumatic experiences and helps reduce negative mental health outcomes for LGBTQ people. However, the concept of “community” for LGBTQ people is under-researched, and within a given geographic area there may be multiple, diverse, and potentially divided LGBTQ communities. Uniting Pride of Champaign County is a local organization with the mission of creating a Champaign County where all who identify as sexual and/or gender minorities can live full, healthy, and vibrant lives; to do so, Uniting Pride engages in advocacy, education, and outreach.

In partnership with Uniting Pride, this research project seeks to answer several questions:

  • First, what are characteristics of the LGBTQ community in Champaign County, and how is it divided?
  • Next, what aspects of community connectedness are important to Champaign County LGBTQ people?
  • Finally, what programming and communication strategies will help Uniting Pride to be more inclusive across the LGBTQ population in Champaign County, and contribute to LGBTQ health?

Methods will be determined through consensus but could include either quantitative (e.g., surveys) or qualitative (e.g., focus groups or interviews) methods with LGBTQ people in Champaign County as well as Uniting Pride staff and volunteers. 

Role of the Community-Academic Scholars:
The Community-Academic Scholar may be involved in many aspects of the project, based on their interests. They will be involved in connecting to Uniting Pride to determine specific methods for the project, and to share results. The scholar may be involved in creating data collection instruments (e.g., surveys or interview guides), recruiting potential participants, collecting data from participants, analyzing data, presenting findings, and/or writing about the project. Based on the scholar's interest and performance as well as data quality, there may be opportunities for co-authoring peer-reviewed publications.