We are working in Hearne, a small, rural community in east central Texas. We originally planned to address substance use health disparities. Through our first year of research we learned from the community that was a symptom, but one of the underlying reasons was lack of opportunities for youth. We reprogrammed our project to look at increasing opportunities. We’re using a process called “human-centered design” or “design thinking” to engage youth to develop their own program, set of products, or whatever the result is. We don’t have the answer at the beginning of the process. We’ll work with youth over the next year and a half to develop their program and then pilot test it.
In 2017, researchers, advocates, and community members formed the Strengthening Colors of Pride team and set out to understand the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other gender and sexual minority (LGBTQ+) people in the San Antonio Metro Area. Project leaders, with the help of a research team and community advisory board members, developed the largest survey of LGBTQ+ identified individuals ever conducted in South Texas. The survey provides important insight about the demographics of LGBTQ+ people in the area and their experiences with housing and homelessness, healthcare, employment, familial rejection and support, financial stability, resiliency, and much more.
The one thing that was clear is that the LGBTQ+ community is extremely resilient and community members often have strong social networks.