During the past summer and fall semesters, our team has continued to collaborate with SAATHII and Nirangal to make this project a reality. COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way we work with our partners, highlighting the need to open doors to more inclusive, equitable practices and policies. The pandemic has significantly impacted communities around the world, and we are grateful for the support of Dr. Ramakrishnan, Siva, Sankari, and Delfina, among other local leaders advocating for community needs.
This summer was primarily centered around curriculum building. We wrote nine LGBTQ+ curriculum modules tailored to India’s cultural context: 1) Introduction to LGBTQ+ Health; 2) General Health Inequities; 3) Mental Health; 4) Transgender Health; 5) Relationship and Family Care; 6) Individual Patient Concerns and Healthcare Planning; 7) Patient Communication; 8) Addressing and Confronting Bias; and 9) Data, Privacy, and Health. The process of compiling these modules has been truly iterative, involving regular meeting with our faculty mentors to collectively edit the content. Our discussions traversed a wide range of topics relating to social determinants of health, including the impact of intersecting social biases (examples: communalism, casteism, ageism) in seeking and accessing healthcare. We also spent time navigating the logistics of research methods, securing both UT and India Sigma IRB approval to conduct virtual interviews and focus groups, updating the project budget, and drafting a contract to formalize the project partnership.
In the fall, we had a chance to interview several community members, including leaders within our partner organizations to gain valuable insights into their work, and two healthcare professionals. Through these conversations, we have learned more about current attitudes around LGBTQ+ health, strategies used to provide affirming healthcare, and the mounting barriers presented by COVID-19 in seeking timely mental health services and establishing continuity of care. As the spring semester approaches, we hope to conduct additional interviews and integrate these findings through interactive elements (such as voiceovers or video clips) within the modules. We plan to fully handoff the website and mobile app to our partners in the coming months.
Opportunities we have had to share our project with others:
- Queering Education (Q+ EDU) – August 2020
- UT PRIDE Health Pop-Up Institute – August 2020
- Texas Global International Education Week – November 2020
- UT South Asia Institute Newsletter Write-up – Fall 2020