Center for LGBTQ+ Research and Advocacy

Center for LGBTQ+ Research and Advocacy

The Center, housed in the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, will put Kansas on the map as a hub for research, advocacy, community engagement, education, and
scholarship focused on the experiences of sexually and gender diverse populations.

Highlight Article

Center for LGBTQ+ Research & Advocacy Debuted Summer 2021

Kicking off its debut with the 9th Annual LGBTQ Research Symposium, which moved from the University of Illinois to the University of Kansas. This symposium provides researchers an opportunity to present their work, discuss challenges and opportunities, and network with others conducting LGBTQ+ research across disciplines.

Megan Paceley

“We put advocacy in the title because we wanted our research to do more than just sit there. We wanted to be able to use our research to promote social change and improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people. It’s exciting.”

Megan Paceley, PhD
Associate Professor
Sarah Jen presentation for Red Hot Research regarding aging and gender/sexuality

Unique & Collaborative

The Center will have a broad scope and will connect experts in a wide array of fields to work together in new ways to advance scholarship and research

LGBTQ Research Symposium 2021 Stats

presentations over two days
panel discussions six roundtables
speakers, two networking events, 10 CEUs offered

June 2-3, 2022

The annual LGBTQ Research Symposium is once again virtual in 2022!
LGBTQ Research Symposium

2022 Call for Proposals - LGBTQ Research Symposium

We encourage proposals on the theme of “Pleasure is Power”, however proposals on any topic related to LGBTQ+ people, issues, communities, etc. will be equally considered. Proposals from all disciplines (social science, science, medicine, humanities, etc), as well as those outside of academic institutions, are welcome!


Proposals are due by January 31st, 2022, 11:59pm CST. 

The planning committee will announce proposal acceptances by January 28th, 2022.

The cost of the symposium includes live & continued access to presentations:

Cost: $30.00 Students, community members & non-university affiliates - No CEUs

Cost: $60.00 Faculty and staff - No CEUs

Cost: $75.00 to add CEUs

Prices range from 30.00 to 135.00 (price depends on options selected)

Proposals can be submitted HERE & should include the following information:

  • Presenter information
    • Primary presenter name, pronouns, title, affiliation, contact information
    • Primary presenter brief bio (100 words)
  • Additional presenter names, pronouns, titles, affiliations, contact information
  • Format Preferences
    • Type of presentation (select one)
      • Research presentation (share research findings, theoretical implications of research, critical research reviews etc; 15 minutes)
      • Non-research presentation (share clinical, artistic, or other information; 15 minutes)
      • Panel presentation (multiple speakers, research or non-research; 90 minutes)
      • Poster presentation (poster and brief 3-5 minute presentation pre-recorded)
      • Roundtable discussion (50 minutes)
      • Workshop/Training (50 minutes)
      • Creative/Artistic submission (15 or 50 minutes)
      • Other format (15 or 50 minutes)
    • Format of presentation preferred
      • Live presentation format (automatically recorded unless presenters opt-out)
      • Pre-recorded presentation format
      • No preference
  • Submission Details
    • Title
    • 3-5 learning objectives
    • Abstract (up to 500 words)
    • References/Citations


Submit your proposal HERE

Interested in being a co-sponsor? Email

Please email for more information or with questions.

LGBTQ Research Symposium on Facebook

Recent Publications

  • Jen, S., Stewart, D., & Woody, I. (2020). Serving LGBTQ+/SGL elders during the novel corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic: Striving for justice, recognizing resilience. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 63(6-7), 607-610.

  • Paceley, M., Goffnett, J., Sattler, P., & Jen, S. (2020). “It feels like home”: Transgender youth in the Midwest and conceptualizations of community climate. Journal of Community Psychology, 48(6), 1863-1881.

  • Jen, S., & Paceley, M. (in press). Capturing queer and trans lives and identities: The promise of research poems to inform stigma research. Stigma and Health.

  • McGeough, B. L., & Cohen, N. (in press). A Systematic Review of Depression and Anxiety Interventions for Sexual Minority Women. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.

  • McGeough, B. L., Karriker-Jaffe, K., & Zemore, S. (2021). Rates and Predictors of Alcoholics Anonymous Attendance across Sexual Orientations. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

  • McGeough, B. L., Obedin-Maliver, J., Lunn, M., Lubensky, M., & Flentje, A. (n.d.). Understanding Co-Occurring Depression Symptoms and Alcohol Use Symptoms among Cisgender Sexual Minority Women. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.

  • McGeough, B. L. (2020). An Analysis of Statewide Anti-Bullying Laws Employing the Iowa Safe Schools Law as a Case Study. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal.

  • Rand, J., & Paceley, M. S. (in press). Exploring the lived experiences of rural Minnesota LGBTQ+ youth: Navigating identity and authenticity within school and community contexts. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.

  • Paceley, M. S., Kattari, S. K., Ramseyer Winter, V., Jackson Levin, N., Banks, A., Bauerband, L., & Harper, D. M. (in press). Interdisciplinary, inclusive, and innovative: Promoting a paradigmatic shift in transgender youth cancer research. Annals of LGBTQ Public & Population Health.

  • Paceley, M. S., Greenwood, E., Dikitsas, Z. A., Fish, J. N., McInroy, L. B., Riquino, M., & Henderson, S. B. (in press). “They make these laws to put us back in our place”: A found poem on the trauma, hope, and resilience of transgender and gender diverse youth and discriminatory policies. Qualitative Inquiry.

  • Jen, S. R., & Paceley, M. S. (in press). Capturing Queer and Trans Lives and Identities: The Promise of Research Poems to Inform Stigma Research. Stigma & Health, 6(1), 62-69.

  • Paceley, M. S., Okrey-Anderson, S., Fish, J. N., & McInroy, L. (2021). Beyond a shared experience: Queer and trans youth navigating COVID-19. Qualitative Social Work, 20(1-2), 97-104.

  • Withey-Rila, C., Schwartz, J. J., Alexander, L. M., & Paceley, M. S. (2020). Trans/Nonbinary Sexualities and Prioritizing Pleasure. In S. K. Kattari, M. K. Kinney, L. Kattari, & N. E. Walls, Social Work and Health Care with Transgender and Nonbinary Individuals and Communities (pp. 227-241). New York: Routledge.

  • Paceley, M. S. (2020). Youth-based gender, sexuality, and race equity work in schools. In C. Mayo, Oxford Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality in Education. New York: Oxford.

  • Paceley, M., Goffnett, J., Sanders, L., & Gadd-Nelson, J. (in press). "Sometimes you get married on Facebook": The use of social media among nonmetropolitan sexual and gender minority youth. Journal of Homosexuality.

  • Goffnett, J., & Paceley, M. S. (2020). Challenges, pride, and connection: A qualitative exploration of advice transgender youth have for other transgender youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 32(3), 328-353.

  • Fish, J. N., McInroy, L., Paceley, M. S., Williams, N. D., Henderson, S., Levine, D., & Edsell, R. (2020). “I'm kinda stuck at home with unsupportive parents right now”: Online support groups and LGBTQ youths' experiences of COVID-19. Journal of Adolescent Health, 67(3), 450-452.

  • Paceley, M. S., Sattler, P., Goffnett, J., & Jen, S. (2020). “It feels like home”: Transgender youth in the Midwest and conceptualizations of community climate. Journal of Community Psychology, 48(6), 1863-1881.

Center Affiliates

Are you interested in becoming an affiliate of the center? Fill out this form.

Brittanie Atteberry Ash (she/her/hers) Using research on LGBTQ populations as an exemplar for understanding the dynamics and processes of oppression in communities, and social work practice and education, Brittanie is committed to promoting social justice and inclusion across contexts. Her work relies heavily on an intersectional lens to deepen the discipline’s understanding of risk and resilience among people who live at the crossroads of marginalized identities. Brittanie also focuses on promoting justice and inclusion within classroom and field education experiences, identifying strategies for educators to more fully integrate a critical social justice lens into their pedagogy and field supervision of students. Keywords: SOGIE, social justice, social work education

Melinda Chen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at KU. She holds an M.A. in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies from KU and a B.A. in Global Liberal Studies concentrating in Law, Ethics & Religion from New York University. Her research draws extensively from queer of color critique and transnational feminisms to understand how marginalization manifests and functions at rape crisis centers under the present U.S. neoliberal landscape. In her free time, Melinda volunteers as a victim advocate and enjoys whipping up delicious food in the kitchen. Keywords: sexual violence, rape, victim advocacy, queer of color critique, transnational feminisms, feminist ethnography, queer methodologies

Dr. Darren Cosgrove (they/he) uses arts-based methodologies and participatory action research to work in partnership with transgender and nonbinary communities to explore identity development, affirmation and social stigma. Upon joining Miami, Dr. Cosgrove launched the Queer Social Work Research Lab. The lab offers opportunities for students to work with scholars on research designed to improve social work services to LGBTQI+ people. Currently, the lab is hosting a multi-state photovoice study focused on nonbinary community connectedness, and a national mixed-methods study examining trans and nonbinary affirming mental health services. Keywords: Nonbinary wellness, participatory action research, arts-based research

Flint Hills Human Rights Project is a volunteer organization dedicated to serving the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks in Manhattan, Kansas and the Flint Hills region of Kansas. The organization is led by its Board of Directors, who meet monthly. Members of the organization support the activities of FHHRP and enjoy connecting through social events, volunteering, and activism. Our primary mission is to ensure and promote the dignity, safety, equity, and liberation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, and questioning (LGBTTIQ) individuals in the Clay, Geary, Marshall, Morris, western Pottawatomie, Riley, western Wabaunsee and Washington counties of Kansas. Keywords: Queer liberation, LGBTQ advocacy, Civil Rights, Community Organizing

Rey Flores, MA, (they/them/theirs) is a public health researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for HIV Elimination. Mx. Flores’ research interrogates how network interventions can eliminate new HIV and STI transmissions in Chicago and the impacts of network factors on folks at risk or living with HIV or STIs. Additionally, they works to further research and knowledge about sexual and gender minority folks impacted by stigma and its relation to their overall health. Keywords: HIV, sexual and gender minorities, stigma, social networks

Donny Gerke (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. His research agenda broadly examines health promotion and social and environmental determinants of health and health disparities in LGBTQ+ populations, with a focus on HIV prevention and care. His scholarship is informed by over five years of post-MSW practice experience in community-based health promotion with adolescent and adult LGBTQ+ populations at risk for HIV, STIs, and substance misuse. His recent studies include: an examination on the relationships between exposure to violence (child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, community violence), mental health problems, substance use, and HIV risk behaviors in young Black and White gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (YMSM) recruited from community-based HIV prevention agencies, evaluations of a live and automated two-way text-messaging intervention and a peer educator intervention to improve HIV-related health outcomes among Black YMSM living with HIV, a group model building study aimed at understanding barriers to PrEP adoption and sustainment among YMSM and young transgender individuals in Colorado, and an exploration of health literacy and health care access among transgender and non-binary Coloradans. Keywords: social work; HIV; substance use; health disparities

Braveheart Gillani (he/him/his), MSW is a queer, immigrant, transdisciplinary scholar who is seeking to contribute to conversations of identity, structural integrity and change. His work focuses on Queer health, healthy masculinity, dismantling of oppressive structures and innovative pedagogies. He is a system scientist and is a current Ph.D. student at the Mandel School of Applied Social Science at Case Western Reserve University. Keywords: Queer, Healthy Masculinity, Caring, System Dynamics, AntiRacist

Jacob Goffnett, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Jacob’s research uses a biopsychosocial framework to explore the etiology of behavioral health outcomes and inequities for sexual and gender minority youth. Jacob is currently investigating emotions & related processes as mechanisms connecting discrimination and victimization to substance use, non-suicidal self-injury, disordered eating. Dr. Goffnett has 10 years of clinical social work practice with youth across different systems of care. Keywords: youth; emotions; social determinants of health; mixed-methods research

Liz Hamor, Center of Daring (she/her) Center of Daring is a leadership coaching and consulting business that meshes leadership principles with principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through these lenses and built on decades of collaborative experience, Center of Daring provides education, tools, and other supports to those ready to create cultures of courage within their organizations, businesses, churches and communities. Keywords: Leadership, Coaching, Consulting, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Courage, LGBTQ

Shanna K. Kattari, Ph.D., MEd, CSE, ACS is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, the Department of Women and Gender Studies (by courtesy), and director of the [Sexuality|Relationships|Gender] Research Collective. A White, Jewish, nonbinary, disabled, chronically ill, neurodivergent, middle-class queer fat Femme, their practice and community background is as a board-certified sexologist, certified sexuality educator, and social justice advocate. Dr. Kattari’s extant research focuses on sexuality and sexual health; disability and ableism; and queer and trans-affirming health care. Keywords: sexuality; health; transgender; gender diverse; nonbinary; queer; disability, mixed methods; arts-based; discrimination; affirmation

LB Klein (they/she) is an assistant professor in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work and core faculty member of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Klein uses mixed methods, intersectional, and community participatory approaches to study the systems within which minoritized youth and young adults experience interpersonal violence and revictimization in order to develop interventions to prevent that violence and revictimization. Their recent research focuses on preventing and responding to sexual and intimate partner violence experienced by LGBTQ+ college and university students and benchmarking campus violence prevention and survivor advocacy practices in the United States. They have worked in various capacities (e.g., survivor advocate, prevention educator, program director, evaluator, trainer, researcher, consultant) to prevent and respond to interpersonal violence for over 18 years. Keywords: sexual assault, intimate partner violence, LGBTQ+, prevention, college & university campuses

Rachel Levitt(they/them) holds a PhD in American Studies and two graduate certificates: the first in Race and Social Justice and the second in Women Studies. They work at K-State's Social Transformation Studies Department where they teach courses on Queer Studies, Hate Crimes, Sexual and Gender Violence, Social Movements, and Legal Injustice. Off campus they do community organizing with the Flint Hills Human Rights Project where they work with other queer folks on behalf of our community to create progressive changes that make queer lives more livable, and oppose policies and practices that lessen our life chances. Keywords: Queer Studies; Hate Crimes; Violence; Social Movements; Queer Leadership; Feminism

Shawn Mendez's (she/they)  research and teaching focus on the ways that race, sexuality, gender, class and other social locations are interrelated, negotiated, and context dependent. Her previous work has focused on the experiences of LGBTQ people of color as they navigate the racialized contexts of their neighborhoods, and the ways that LGQ parents teach their teenagers about race and queer culture. She teaches courses in queer and family sociology as well as women, gender, and sexuality studies. Keywords: family studies, queer theory, qualitative research

Dr. Amanda L. Mollet(she/her/hers) is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the Higher Education Administration program at the University of Kansas. Her research explores questions of equity and inclusion in higher education from individual, organizational, and ecological perspectives. Dr. Mollet primarily focuses on experiences of students, faculty, and staff with historically minoritized sexual and gender identities with a particular focus on asexuals' experiences. Keywords: asexuality, LGBTQ, college students, higher education

Amy Nourie is a social work Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida with a specific interest in child welfare. Her research aims to capture the experiences of youth identifying as LGBTQ+ in foster care and upon aging out. Keywords: LGBTQ+, child welfare, feminism, social welfare history, foster care

Jenny Robinsonis a social worker, LGBTQIA affirmative therapist & behavioral health consultant with Heartland Community Health Center. Her goal is to continue learning and to cultivate a practice that is gender-affirming, queer-positive, anti-racist, and anti-ableist. Keywords: Federally Qualified Health Center, Integrated Health Care, Behavioral Health

Ryan Wade, PhD, MSW (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His interests include a broad focus on social determinants of health, structural and community-level racism, the racial patterning of sexual/social networks, and health disparities among LGBTQ+ communities of color. At present, Professor Wade is investigating a phenomenon known as Racialized Sexual Discrimination (RSD), or 'sexual racism,' as experienced by sexual minority men of color who use mobile apps and/or websites to seek intimate partners. His work examines the association between RSD and psychological wellbeing using a newly validated multidimensional scale of RSD. Keywords: Race; discrimination; sexual minorities; sexual racism; mobile-apps; mental health

Nic M. Westrate, University of Illinois Chicago (he/him/his) (PhD, University of Toronto) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and member of the Center for Research on Health and Aging at the University of Illinois Chicago. Nic studies positive aging within the LGBTQIA+ communities. Currently, he has been exploring the potential for intergenerational storytelling between LGBTQIA+ elders and youth to bolster their health, well-being, and psychosocial functioning, while also sustaining the LGBTQIA+ communities’ rich cultures and histories. In Nic’s community-engaged research, he partners with the Senior Services Program at the Center on Halsted and Pride Action Tank of the AIDS Foundation Chicago. Keywords: LGBTQIA+ positive aging, psychosocial development, intergenerational relationships, intergenerational storytelling, cultural memory

Darren L. Whitfield (he/him/his) is an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Dr. Whitfield’s research interests include health and mental health disparities among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities, biomedical HIV prevention among gay and bisexual men of color in the United States, and intersectional measurement development. His research is grounded in an intersectional framework, where he specifically examines the impact of intersectional identity on psychosocial, sociocultural, and structural factors associated with health and mental health outcomes of LGBTQ communities of color and biomedical HIV prevention among Black gay and bisexual men. Keywords: HIV Prevention, LGBTQ people of color, mental health, intersectionality

Angie Woottonis a medical & behavioral health social worker, teacher in higher education & research professional focusing primarily on behavioral health and the LGBTQ community. Wootton is currently a doctoral student in Social Welfare at UC Berkeley studying behavioral health disparities in sexual and gender minority women, focusing on resilience within a community context. Keywords: behavioral health, resilience, strengths, social support, coping, intersectionality


2020-21 Research Impact Talks

Supporting Equitable Health Achievements of LGBTQ+Elders: Translating Research to Practice

Supporting Equitable Health Achievements of LGBTQ+Elders: Translating Research to Practice

held April 2021 with presenter Sarah Jen, PhD and respondent Adrianne Kunkel, professor, KU Communication Studies p
Clinical & Mutual Aid Interventions for Supporting the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Community

Clinical & Mutual Aid Interventions for Supporting the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Community

held February 2021 with presenter Briana McGeough, PhD and respondent Katie Batza, associate professor, KU Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Queer(ing) Communities to Promote Justice & Equity for Trans Youth

Queer(ing) Communities to Promote Justice & Equity for Trans Youth

held November 2020 with presenter Megan Paceley, PhD and respondent Kyle Velte, associate professor, KU Law School
Queer & Trans Youth Perspectives in Self-harm Research

Queer & Trans Youth Perspectives in Self-harm Research

held September 2020 with presenter Michael Riquino, PhD and respondent Kim Warren, associate dean for DEI, KU School of Social Welfare