The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

LGBTQ issues in education, health care, and more

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katie
Dr. Cindy Ann Kilgo, left, Dr. Sarah Botchway, and Kingsley Botchway sit to answer questions during UI’s “Thriving in a Transforming Nation” micro-conference at the Lindquist Center on March 30, 2018. The conference focused on healthcare, rights, advocacy, and education for LGBTQ students. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Speakers at a University of Iowa LGBTQ micro-conference on March 30 addressed various issues affecting the education, health care, advocacy, and rights of the LGBTQ community. Leaders in their fields addressed the practices they are taking to construct a more supportive environment for LGBTQ individuals.

The conference, “Thriving in a Transforming Nation: UI LGBTQ Micro-conference on Health Care, Education, Advocacy, and Rights,” sparked discussion on various issues critical to the community.

UI assistant professor of sociology Sarah Bruch described her collaborative work with Iowa City School District Equity and Engagement Director Kingsley Botchway.

RELATED: In their own words: LGBTQ inclusion in Iowa City

Bruch said they have worked on a “research practice partnership” for the past year to create more equitable school environments, experiences, and outcomes for students in the district.

To collect initial information, she said, they surveyed all fifth-through 12th-graders in the district regarding their experiences in school.

She said 75 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students versus 85 percent of non-LGBTQ students agreed with the statement that they are supported by school staff. Bruch noted that nonbinary, gender nonconforming, or transgender-identifying students were also considerably less likely to agree that school staff supports them.

“One of the most striking things we found when we analyzed the data was this kind of systematic pattern,” she said. “We found that nonbinary-identified students and LGB students were less likely to have positive experiences and more likely to have negative experiences in school across a wide range of questions on school climate.”

RELATED: Groups join in pioneering LGBTQ survey

A multi-stakeholder task force has assembled recommendations to improve the experiences of LGBTQ students in the district. Some of the recommendations include establishing gender-neutral bathrooms in all schools, improving educator knowledge through LGBTQ-specific training, ensuring access to adult advocates, strengthening district policies, and enhancing the inclusiveness of curricula.

Botchway said they were looking to bring more secondary schools on board as they move closer to summer.

“I think that ultimately all these things are possible, but it’s going to take some time,” he said. “It’s going to take some careful planning and discussion with multi-stakeholders in order to move the conversation forward.”

Daniel Hoffman of OneIowa, James Knapp of TransOhio, Cindy Kilgo of the University of Alabama, and UI Clinical Professor of Law Leonard Sandler described their advocacy efforts for LGBTQ individuals.

RELATED: Judd: Books with LGBTQ themes face being banned from public libraries

On the topic of health, UI Assistant Professor Jacob Priest described his work in the UI LGBTQ Health Clinic. He said the clinic provides free individual, couples, and family counseling for LGBTQ patients.

Angie Axdahl and Deb Lord of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland covered their organization’s LGBTQ-inclusive health services.

Axdahl said the Cedar Rapids Planned Parenthood celebrated one year of providing transgender hormone therapy in January.

Axdahl said hormone therapy treatment will be provided at the Iowa City Planned Parenthood location this summer. Her goal is to provide transgender health care in all 10 Planned Parenthood of the Heartland clinics by the end of this year.

“Our call centers and our clinics received numerous calls from callers reaching out and saying they couldn’t find a provider or a provider that wasn’t more than multiple months wait,” she said. “We saw the need that we needed to meet for our community and for our patients.”


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About the Contributor
Julia DiGiacomo, Politics reporter
Julia DiGiacomo is a politics reporter and digital producer at The Daily Iowan. She is a junior majoring in journalism and international relations with a Spanish minor. Throughout her freshman year, Julia worked as a news reporter with a focus on the human rights beat.