Out, Proud and Healthy is a statewide effort to raise awareness of LGBTQ health disparities in Missouri and connect people with resources and community. You deserve to be healthy and we’re here to help!
Our Mission is to promote better health and quality of life for LGBTQ individuals by striving to eliminate health disparities for LGBTQ people in Missouri through access to information, resources, and community.
Skip to: History | Funding | Research Team | Current Projects | About This Site
Following the collaborative LGBT Community Health Surveys done in 2003 and 2006 in Kansas City, it was clear that LGBTQ Missourians were both concerned about their health and that there were some serious health disparities evident among this population. In 2008, the Missouri Foundation for Health identified tobacco beliefs and behaviors in the LGBTQ community as an under-researched area and granted funding to Dr. Jane McElroy and Dr. Kevin Everett to lead further investigation. The Check Out Project was established in 2008 to begin gathering information about tobacco-related beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes from LGBTQ community members through surveys distributed at Pride Festivals throughout the state.
The first surveys showed some expected results: LGBTQ Missourians smoke at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts. Moreover, LGBTQ Missourians had lower understanding of effective quit techniques and resources. The problem was identified and clearly warranted further exploration.
On the advice of the project’s advisory board of LGBTQ leaders from around the state, the surveys were expanded to encompass issues beyond tobacco: access to healthcare, health behaviors and beliefs, and understanding/availability of resources. Each summer, pride surveys were collected from a diverse group of LGBTQ and heterosexual Missourians, creating an invaluable pool of data from which to draw.
In 2010, again on the recommendation of our Advisory Board, the Check Out Project changed its name to Out, Proud and Healthy in order to better reflect our mission to promote better health and quality of life overall. Although OPAH’s roots are in tobacco research, we know that health is not limited to a single issue – it’s about choices, beliefs, behaviors, access, information, safety, resources, and community.
With the name change, our efforts shifted slightly to incorporate other health related projects and collaborations. In 2011, we began offering smoking cessation classes through our community partners in three locations in St. Louis. In 2012, we officially joined the internet by providing a one-stop connection to health- and LGBTQ- related information and resources throughout the state. Also in 2012, we began our Safe Provider Listing project to expand the number of Missouri healthcare providers self-identifying as culturally-competent, welcoming, and affirming providers. And in 2013, we are excited to announce the launch of our new project looking at health and fitness among lesbian and bisexual women over 40.
We are working hard to get resources into the hands of those who need them most. We’re done with our Pride surveys for a while, but we’ll still be sweating it out at Prides across the state, connecting what we know with the people who need to know it. Look for us being all sorts of Out, Proud and Healthy behind the big rainbow swirl!
In 2006, the Missouri Foundation for Health identified tobacco use in the LGBTQ community as a topic area that necessitated more research. Following this, MFH announced research funding within the area of Eliminating Tobacco Health Disparities. This announcement marked the first funding received by the Out, Proud and Healthy project. MU’s Campus-Community Alliances for Smoke-free Environments (C.A.S.E.) proposed a study to better understand the risk for tobacco-related health disparities in Missourians and, with funding beginning in December 2007, OPAH commenced with a goal of providing an in-depth and comprehensive assessment of tobacco use among LGBTQ Missourians.
Now, in 2013, the Missouri Foundation for Health continues to support our activities to identify and address factors that impact LGBTQ Missourians’ health and quality of life. However, with an expanded mission to investigate multiple health factors, we have also been able to secure funding for other projects. Our Health & Fitness in Lesbian & Bisexual Women project is funded by the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health and we work collaboratively on this project with NORC at the University of Chicago.
The research team at Out, Proud and Healthy is led by Dr. Jane McElroy, Principal Investigator, and Dr. Kevin Everett, Co-Investigator. Both are faculty members in the Department of Family & Community Health and the University of Missouri. Research staff for the project includes Dean Andersen, Megan Lee, and Jenna Jordan. Our research is advised and guided by an excellent Advisory Board, representing LGTBQ leaders from around the state. Meet the whole Research Team!
From the beginning of the project, Out, Proud and Healthy has been on a path of expansion. One of our first projects that is still in motion is the exploration of LGBT Tobacco Use and our collaboration to provide smoking cessation classes and resources with our community partners in St. Louis. In 2013, we are proud to launch two other projects: a Women’s Health and Fitness project and a Safe Healthcare Providers Listing project. Take some time to learn more about each of our projects, see how you can help, and learn how they can benefit you! Visit our research page to learn more about our data collection process and to view our reports, posters, and presentations.
About This Site
Our website has been a labor of love for the last three years and we are so excited to have finally made our ideas a reality. One of the most important things to us here at Out, Proud and Healthy is creating a site that is inclusive, accessible, and provides resources to meet all of your needs.
To that end, we hope that you can see yourself in our site and find what you’re looking for here. If you can’t, we’re missing something and we’d really love to know about it. Are there resources that we’re missing? Parts of the community that we haven’t included? Things we could be doing better? Let us know. Drop us an e-mail or use our Contact page to get in touch.