Brian Mustanski visited EC on Oct. 26 to conduct a lecture highlighting some of the chief concerns facing sexual and gender minorities today, including mental and physical health influenced by societal standards on the LGBT community.
The lecture began with QSA faculty advisor Colleen Munro-Leighton previewing some of the upcoming events being hosted by QSA including the Trans Day of Remembrance as well the Big Queer Gathering, before introducing Mustanski.
Once on stage, Mustanski explained the goal of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) of which he is the director.
Mustanski explained that in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to make same sex marriage legal in the U.S., the focus of the LGBT community must turn to the health of the community.
“As you know last year, due to the supreme court, marriage equality became the law of the land and same sex couples can be legally married throughout the United States,” he said. “And that’s brought a lot of people to ask, what’s next?”
“And I would say from my perspective one of the issues we need to focus on is the health of our community,” Mustanski continued. “And that’s really been one of the driving forces of our institute: to try to address the health issues that are disproportionately being experienced by the SGM community.”
Of these issues that affect the SGM community more than others, homelessness and self harm amongst LGBT youth were highlighted as problems that are significantly more likely in the SGM community.
“LGBT youth are two to three times more likely to make a suicide attempt, and LGBT youth are likely to be homeless,” Mustanski said. “Some estimates say that as many as 30 to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, some estimates are even higher than that. ”
The ISGMH’s research seeks to find the root of these problems by examining the lives of those in the SGM community to help reach a solution.
“Understanding LGBT health starts with understanding the history of oppression and dis- crimination that these communities have faced and that those are the major drivers of these common disparities,” Mustanski said. “Social determinants like lack of access to health care, stigma, discrimination and family challenges affect the health of LGBT individuals.”
Mustanski concluded by dis- cussing the relative newness of this type of research, and the importance of being the first to gather data on the issues affecting the SGM community as well as their causes. He went on to add that these issues are now being looked at more seriously on a national scale.
“I think this is an exciting time to be doing research in sexual and gender minority health, there’s incredible opportunities,” he said.
“I was talking to a group of students about how many un-answered questions we have in this area,” he added..
“In fact just recently sexual and gender minority individuals were officially designated as a health disparity population by the [National Institutes for Health], which means that research on health disparity should be inclusive on the SGM community in the same way that it is of racial and ethnic minorities,” he added.