Two Bearcats honored for LGBTQ activism
A public health graduate student and a second-year medical student were honored recently by the University of Cincinnati (UC) LGBTQ Center for their efforts aimed at building community ties and improving the health of the LGBTQ community at the university and beyond.
Ryan Anderson, a 2019 graduate of the master’s in public health program, and Haidn Foster, a medical student finishing his second year, received the LGBTQ Bridge Builder Award, and the LGBTQ Student Activist Award, respectively, during the Lavender Graduation Ceremony held April 25.
The LGBTQ Bridge Builder Award celebrates any UC student or organization for excellence and commitment in building connections between the LGBTQ community and broader student life at UC. The LGBTQ Student Activist Award recognizes any UC student for excellence in leadership or service to the LGBTQ community at UC. Both honors reflect a commitment to diversity and inclusion and the urban impact platform of UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.
Anderson: Educating and social norming
Anderson, a former graduate student worker in the UC Student Wellness Center, was nominated for the award by Lori Bishop-Ley, his former boss and assistant director of the Student Wellness Center. She says she was impressed by Anderson’s work implementing programs across the campus that tackle sexual health, gender-based violence and alcohol, tobacco and drug education along with mental health.
Anderson, who majored in gender studies and film at Miami University, spearheaded a new social norming campaign at UC funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The campaign focused on bystander intervention and ways to prevent sexual violence and was titled “Togetherto100UC.”
“On social media Ryan created posts that encouraged students to be more active bystanders when they see or hear acts of gender-based violence,” says Bishop-Ley. “Ryan would highlight different situations on campus where students could interrupt problematic or violent behaviors. He then would offer different ways one could safely respond if they saw that situation.”
Anderson created inclusive marketing materials such as flyers and newsletters to encourage students to understand potentially problematic situations with a new perspective, explains Bishop-Ley. Assessment tools he developed for this project also will help inform future campaigns.
Bishop-Ley says Anderson helped organize monthly HIV testing services for the Student Wellness Center and worked closely with Caracole, a longtime partner of the center and Greater Cincinnati’s non-profit AIDS service organization. He educated students waiting for HIV testing about the test itself and offered information about other sexually transmitted infections and discussed safer sexual health practices, explains Bishop-Ley.
Anderson was a Pride Ambassador with the UC LGBTQ Center and this role allowed him to align his values with his passion and build meaningful connections with LGBTQ students, explains Bishop-Ley.
“The Wellness Center gave me so many opportunities and put a lot of trust in me,” says Anderson. “During my third week I was teaching alone for our sanction classes for alcohol and drugs. I really appreciated that they had that much trust in me.”
Anderson hopes that as a recent graduate he can continue his work advancing HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention and has his sights on a fellowship with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health.
“There are so many students doing powerful work all over campus so to be selected for such a great award was really amazing,” says Anderson.
Foster: Redefining patient experiences
Foster, a medical student who is interested in becoming an oncologist, launched the nonprofit online publication Pride in Practice earlier this year to offer more comprehensive LGBTQ health care education for medical students, residents, physicians and other health care workers. He was nominated by Sarah Pickle, MD, an associate professor of family medicine and associate division director, medical education, for the student activism award.
Foster, a 31-year-old native of Seattle, has a special interest in LGBTQ health. He graduated with undergraduate and master’s degrees in English from the University of Washington and ran a marketing company for several years before going back to Portland State University for a Bachelor of Science degree in preparation for starting medical school. An experience with a chronic medical condition that caused severe pain, but was ultimately treated successfully, left him curious about his body and how physicians managed to cure him.
His publication serves a resource on LGBTQ health care and includes articles written by UC faculty, staff and students as well as community activists and physicians from across the country. Recently, Pride in Practice became a registered 501(c)(3) public charity.
One of Foster’s new initiatives on Pride in Practice is a provider resource portal with guides and clinical resources that medical professionals can easily share and print for use in the clinic. Resources currently in the portal include a physician guide to gender pronouns and a list of crisis hotlines for LGBTQ patients.
Pickle says she is amazed Foster has time to serve as editor-in-chief of Pride in Practice. He also advances LGBTQ health care policy through his involvement in the American Medical Association.
“Medical school is an extremely challenging time for future physicians,” says Pickle, also a UC Health physician. “They spend four years learning every aspect of the human body and the human experience. They memorize millions of facts, chemical models, medications and disease pathways. For most medical students, they spend most of their time studying, having clinical experiences, and many volunteer in the community.
“Haidn Foster, in the midst of the academic rigor of his first two years of medical school, decided to become a CEO and author,” says Pickle. “So in the midst of learning about how to care for patients, Haidn is redefining how the medical community should care for persons across the spectrums of gender and sexuality.”
Foster says receiving the award was pretty exciting.
“I didn’t know I had been nominated, and a notification just came into my inbox one day that I had been selected for this award,” says Foster, who later learned Pickle had nominated him. “Dr. Pickle has been a tremendous mentor to me. She was my preceptor, and we have worked closely together on events such as the Transgender Day of Visibility in downtown Cincinnati. I’m so grateful to her and the UC LGBTQ Center for helping to highlight the importance of LGBTQ-inclusive health care.”