College of Public Health launching LGBTQ+ Public Health Graduate Certificate for fall 2023

Chania Crawford, Reporter

The College of Public Health is launching a new certificate in the fall of 2023, centered around health disparities and the health needs of members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Outreach program director and adjunct faculty member for the College of Public Health, Andrew Snyder, developed the LGBTQ+ public health certificate after he noticed negative trends in the healthcare of the LGBTQ+ community. He did an assessment of the LGBTQ+ community in the greater Akron area.

“We saw that one of the primary things people said that they need in the [LGBTQ+] community and allies need, were opportunities to educate themselves,” Snyder said. “I have not just seen, but I’ve personally witnessed some of the lack of cultural competence with our frontline healthcare workers that are interacting with our community.”

Of the participants taking the survey, 41% said that being a part of the LGBTQ+ community changes how medical professionals interact with them.

“We know nationally that there’s a need for healthcare providers to have more cultural competency, especially as more and more people, even in rural spaces, are openly identifying as being a part of the LGBTQ+ community,” Snyder said.

The certificate will educate students on the needs and cultural components of the LGBTQ+ community and how the needs differ from what students currently learn in their public health courses.

“Some of the other responses [from the assessments] said there was a lack of LGBTQ+ affirming mental health services,” Snyder said. “I’ve been looking for counseling that’s not just affirming but specializes in gender diverse and sexually diverse individuals. The closest I could find was Mentor, Ohio, which is a far drive.”

Shaunte Rouse, assistant director of Academic Diversity Outreach for the College of Public Health, believes the certification’s passing will allow students to expand their knowledge on the health of the LGBTQ+ community.

“When we look at LGBTQ+ communities themselves, they are a mixture of different folks who experience ableism, racism and classism,” Rouse said. “I think being able to not only engage from a lens of gender identity or sexual identity, but it also requires you to have that additional lens of all identities.”

Rouse hopes that students will be able to increase their critical thinking skills and also increase their empathy and compassion for others while working in the healthcare field and beyond.

There will be five courses that students will take for the certification;

  • SBS 64600 Emerging Issues in LGBTQ+ Public Health Practice (three credit hours)
  • SBS 54634 Social Determinants of Health Behaviors (three credit hours)
  • HPM 53010 Community Health Needs Assessment (three credit hours)
  • SBS 64630 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Public Health Practice (three credit hours)
  • PH 61199 Integrative Learning Experience (one credit hour)

The graduate certification will take students two semesters to complete two classes in the fall with a total of six credit hours, and three classes in the spring with a total of seven credit hours.

Isaac Baez, director of the Summa Health Equity Center, spoke about the adverse effects of intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community.

“When you talk about the LGBTQ+ community, it really is a community that hits everybody in every sector,” Baez said. “Sometimes people either don’t see that, don’t understand it, or it’s not a conversation people have.”

Snyder acknowledged the lack of LGBTQ+ education, sex education, LGBTQ+ history, current issues and culture of the community was another reason behind his proposal for the graduate certificate.

“LGBTQ+ health is public health just like all of the other public health issues,” Snyder said.

The certification courses will also express to public health students the importance of being empathetic and understanding toward the people they are providing care for.

“Making sure we are asking the proper questions in the healthcare field and making sure we are being broad to everybody because we just don’t know who is sitting in front of us,” Baez said.

Chania Crawford is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]