UTEP College of Health Sciences Associate Professor collaborates on LGBTQ+ COVID-19 Texas Study

Oralia Loza, Ph.D., public health sciences associate professor at The University of Texas at El Paso, and the Borderland Rainbow Center (BRC) have collaborated on a survey that examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the LGBTQ+ population in Texas.

Led by Phillip W. Schnarrs, Ph.D., at The University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, the survey involved a statewide coalition of community and research partners, including UTEP and El Paso’s BRC, to better understand the needs, concerns and challenges of LGBTQ+ Texans and their allies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Preliminary results from this first-of-its-kind survey found that gender diverse people and queer people of color are experiencing a number of disparities. They include higher rates of COVID-19, more difficulty accessing a variety of services, and higher rates of anxiety and depression, as well as high unemployment compared with white participants.

The results, which are broken down by race, ethnicity and gender identity, are available here. Researchers plan to release the findings by individual Texas counties later this year.

“The purpose of the study is two-fold,” said Loza, who collaborated with the BRC to include representation from El Paso in the survey data. She is currently translating the survey and preliminary findings of the study into Spanish.

“One is to understand what are the needs of the LGBTQ population in our community because it has never been assessed before, especially statewide. But also, community organizations such as the BRC can use that data to show evidence of the need to advocate for those services. Other community organizations also can use the data to generate findings that are specific to the work they do. If their focus is mental health, they can look at the mental health data and report the needs for their city.”

The survey, which launched May 4, 2020, will continue to recruit participants until July 30, 2020.

To date, researchers have gathered data from 1,000 LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies, including 111 respondents from El Paso. The survey is available here.

Researchers said the data collected will be given back to community partners to use for future planning, as well as the development and delivery of programs to support LGBTQ+ individuals and allies during the COVID-19 pandemic.