Rural Community Organizations Building Inclusive Environments for LGBTQ+ Residents


Feeling seen, welcomed, and included in one's community is essential to strong social cohesion and to good health outcomes. However, perceptions of social cohesion vary by sexual orientation, with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) adults reporting lower levels of social cohesion, with potentially harmful impacts on their health.

Beyond social cohesion, rural LGBTQ+ residents face other barriers to good health, including higher rates of chronic conditions; more barriers to accessing care, especially LGBTQ+-friendly and gender-affirming care; and less access to LGBTQ+-specific organizations and affinity groups. Still, despite the barriers they face, members of the LGBTQ+ population continue to live in rural areas across the US, and information is needed on how best to support their health, well-being, and quality of life.

Community organizations play a key role in providing services and programming in rural communities. This case study series highlights examples of rural community organizations providing LGBTQ+ welcoming and inclusive programming and services from different regions across the U.S. These examples may be helpful to other rural community organizations wanting to deepen their embrace of their LGBTQ+ neighbors and community members.

University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
Mariana Tuttle, Robert Libal, Madeleine Pick, Carrie Henning-Smith