UTSA researcher, along with collaborators, will study resilience in LGBTQ+ populations
Phillip Schnarrs, assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition, along with his collaborators, Amy Stone, associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Trinity University, and Robert Salcido from Pride Center San Antonio and Equality Texas, have been awarded a fellowship to study resilience in the LGBTQ+ populations in San Antonio and South Texas.
They will participate in the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, led by the University of Minnesota with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Schnarrs, Stone and Salcido's project, "Building a Stronger Community: Resilience Among LGBTQ+ People in South Texas" will include research on how to address the health and social needs of the LGBTQ+ community, the underling factors contributing to their health issues, and how this population copes with racial/ethnic-related discrimination and sexuality-related discrimination.
"Our hope is that this work can be used by local organizations, social workers, therapists and other professionals to serve LGBTQ+ communities of color more effectively," said Schnarrs. "I hope this work gives a voice to people who want to make changes to public policy but don't know how."
As fellows, Schnarrs and his collaborators will use the research they gather during this three-year program to advance a culture of health in South Texas.
"This study will help us better understand how LGBTQ+ people cope with ever-increasing discriminatory and hostile environments so we can devise strategies for the most marginalized individuals," said Schnarrs. "Our work will help support local, state and national organizations that seek to uplift and protect the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ individuals including Equality Texas (EQTX), PRIDE San Antonio, and many others."
As a fellow, Schnarrs will develop high-level leadership skills through mentorship, networking and a leadership curriculum. He and his collaborators will also receive mentoring from national experts in research, community action and public policy focused on issues related to LGBTQ+ health.
The Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program is focused on addressing health disparities and building a culture of health through training diverse teams of researchers to become community-engaged, action-oriented researchers focused on addressing social and policy change.
"This year's fellows are addressing significant challenges communities face in achieving better health and health equity. We are excited to see the unique, diverse teams entering this program, and believe this cohort will demonstrate the power of community-engaged interdisciplinary research to solve real-world problems," says Michael Oakes, Ph.D., director of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders and professor at the University of Minnesota.
Schnarrs' work has largely focused on addressing health issues facing LGBTQ+ populations and has incorporated CBPR principles since the beginning of his academic career. During graduate school, Schnarrs worked on an NIH-funded study focused on assessing the sexual healthcare needs of behaviorally bisexual men.
"I think this fellowship will extend the work I have done in this area, provide us with a more robust understanding of resilience, and define what resilience is for LGBTQ+ people, especially LGBTQ+ people of color," said Schnarrs. "What I will take away most from my time in this program will be how to make my research more relevant and accessible to the communities involved in this work. "
Beyond his research, Schnarrs is involved with several groups focused on uplifting LGBTQ+ individuals. In 2013, Schnarrs co-founded UTSA's LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Association, to provide a social support system for the campus community. And, in 2017 he became a board member of OUT Youth, a statewide advocacy organization focused on LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.
UTSA is recognized as one of the top five young universities in the nation by Times Higher Education.