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RISE News with rising sun logomark
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June 2021
Dear Rural Partners,

It’s June—LGBTQ+ Pride Month—and we want to use our newsletter to highlight the work that includes our LGBTQ+ rural siblings and the specific issues they face. While people often think of LGBTQ+ communities living in big cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, many LGBTQ+ individuals are proud rural residents who live in small towns up and down California. We are excited to highlight the work and resources offered for this community and we look forward to continued conversations on the intersections of rural life and LGBTQ+ identities.

The RISE Team
Why Does LGBTQ+ Competency Matter in Rural Communities?
by Emily Goldstein
Why is it important to talk about LGBTQ+ issues in rural areas? Between 3% and 5% of the rural population identifies as LGBT—this is about 34,000 people who are too often left behind in our rural communities. Access to LGBT-specific healthcare is limited in rural areas with only 11% of rural LGBT adults having access to care versus 57% in urban areas. This can include LGBTQ+ appropriate cessation services or culturally competent care providers. 29.7% of LGBT adults use tobacco products versus 18.8% of the general population.  21.9% of rural adults use tobacco products versus 18.8% of the general population. This means that rural LGBT individuals face double jeopardy and are dually targeted by the tobacco industry. 

LGBTQ+ people use tobacco products for many of the same reasons rural residents use tobacco products—peer pressure, lack of access to quality treatment and care, and targeted marketing by the tobacco industry. Additionally, many LGBTQ+ people start or grow their tobacco use because of the influence of bar culture. Often the only LGBTQ+-specific or friendly places for individuals to spend time together is at bars and this can be especially true in rural areas that have limited LGBTQ+ services and gathering spaces. It has been shown there is a link between alcohol and tobacco use—smoking is built into the culture of being at a bar. 

It is also important to understand the unique history of how the tobacco industry has targeted the LGBTQ+ community. The tobacco industry was really the first big business willing to market to LGBTQ+ people and put them in their ads. This was not a noble act of social justice but instead an insidious tactic of targeting and a manipulative way of gaining the trust of a community of future customers. In 1995, R.J. Reynold’s plan to market to the LGBT community in the Castro and homeless folks in the Tenderloin was called “Subculture Urban Marketing” or Project SCUM. While pretending to be an ally to the community, the industry was labeling LGBTQ+ individuals as scum. 

You do not have to be an expert on LGBTQ+ issues to make a difference. There are LGBTQ+ members in each of our rural communities—you can make a huge impact by being open, welcoming, and non-judgmental. Start by reaching out for technical assistance, asking questions, do your own research and get the conversation started with your co-workers, family members, and in your community. 

We Breathe Wants to Hear from You

We Breathe, the LGBTQ Statewide Coordinating Center, has officially launched its Statewide Public Intercept Survey! The survey results will inform its LGBTQ Policy Platform, which will be given to CTCP and TEROC to identify local and state-wide policy and funding needs for the LGBTQ community. Organizers are intentionally reaching out to BIPOC LGBTQ folx to complete the survey, hoping to hear from Queer/Bisexual Women, Transgender Men and Women, Non-binary/GNC Folx, BIPOC, AANHPI folx, Immigrants and Rural Individuals.

It is extremely important that they hear the voices of our rural communities to provide insight into the funding and systemic needs of all LGBTQ Californians.

LGBTQ people may experience additional challenges and barriers when trying to quit or reduce tobacco use and vaping. Take a quick survey and share how we can help our community live tobacco-free:

Butte County Public Health is Having an Art Contest
Butte County Public Health has recognized there are very few resources that discuss the dangers of tobacco use on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) often used by transgender individuals as part of their medical transition.  Butte County is holding a contest to create attention-grabbing and visually stunning materials. They will use the winning art for an educational material.  The art does not have to be tobacco use related but does need to be inspired by the artist’s experience as a trans or GNC person.   By highlighting a local (Butte County) artist, they are promoting the work of a trans or GNC artist and emphasizing information pertinent to the community.  Once the contest closes, the tobacco prevention coalition will select the winner.  Their art will be displayed on the education material, potentially highlighted at a community event, and they will receive a $50 gift card. For additional guidelines and to submit your art piece visit:

For more information about LGBTQ+ resources in Butte County check out the Stonewall Alliance Center
YAFT California Community Colleges LGBTQ+ Video

YAFT (Young Adults Fighting Tobacco) created a short informative video describing the harms LGBTQ+ people face at the hands of the tobacco industry. YAFT advocates for smoke-free community college campuses to create a safer educational environment for everyone.

Check out their video here:
Webinar: Understanding LGBTQ+ Identities and How to Engage the Community in Rural CA

In April of 2020, RISE partnered with We Breath to create a webinar to discuss challenges, strengths, and the greater health threats and disparities faced by LGBTQ+ individuals compared to their heterosexual peers. Importantly, LGBTQ+ people are members of every community from all parts of California, and include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all faiths, and socioeconomic statuses. Although much has changed regarding the social and legal status of LGBTQ+ people, issues of marginalization, stigmatization, and homophobia, and transphobia continue to plague the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ individuals in rural environments continue to face greater psychosocial and health disparities compared to their urban LGBTQ+ counterparts.

Public health departments have an essential role to play throughout the life of LGBTQ+ individuals. This webinar will provide an overview of the experience of LGBTQ+ individuals in rural environments. Webinar participants can expect to gain knowledge about issues facing rural LGBTQ+ individuals, existing community strengths, as well as resources and tools to interact with rural LGBTQ+ clients and communities.

1. Discuss the existing challenges and opportunities facing LGBTQ+ individuals in rural environments.
2. Participate in an in-depth introduction to the history of LGBTQ issues and contemporary terminology.
3. Assess and validate appropriate resources for use with rural LGBTQ+ clients and communities in rural areas. 

You can view the recording of this webinar here:
Glossary of LGBTQ+ Terms 

When we first start working with LGBTQ+ communities and individuals there may be terms, phrases, or acronyms that we have never heard before. The LGBT Cancer Network has created a glossary of LGBTQ+ terminology that can help better understand the needs of our clients and community.
RISE Up Leadership Development Program’s First Graduating Class 
Congratulations to all who completed the RISE Up Leadership Program! In this 5-month program, participants learned best practices to engage their rural communities in policy action and the important considerations around policy processes and messaging strategies. The RISE team is honored to have been a part of this cohort's entry into tobacco control in rural communities.

Participants represented the following Local Lead Agencies and Competitive Grantees:
•    Butte County Public Health
•    Calaveras County Public Health
•    Communities Energized for Health           (Tehama & Amador County)
•    Equality California (Fresno & Tulare         County)
•    First 5 Yuba County
•    Kern County Public Health
•    LEAD (Butte & Yuba County)
•    Merced County Public Health
•    Mono County Public Health
•    NorCal 4 Health (North Coast region)
•    North Valley Region - ALA
•    Sierra Club – Mother Lode Chapter 
•    Siskiyou County Public Health
•    STAAND (Gold Country region)
•    Sutter County Public Health 
•    Unidos Por Salud (Central Valley               region)
•    United Indian Health Services (Del            Norte County)
Congratulations to Alejandra, Ann, Beatriz, Boniface, Dalaina, Dyane, Elidia, Freddy, Janis, Jennifer, JoAnn, Lauren, Natalie, Nykeia, Rexanne, Robin, and Yesenia!
Webinar: Upstream Solving Problems Before They Happen In Rural California 
Registration is still open!  
To register visit:
North Coast Tobacco Virtual Town Hall
Contact the RISE team for help during the CX process
The RISE team is here to help you during the CX process! We are happy to provide technical assistance to advance health equity and connect community members to Local Lead Agencies (LLAs). Please fill out our technical assistance form on our website if you want help. 
Click Here to Reach Out
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