Key Informant Perspectives on Supporting Health and Well-Being for LGBTQ+ Rural Residents


Estimates indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) individuals make up approximately 3-5% of rural residents in the U.S., equaling approximately 3 million people. While rural areas have many strengths, including strong social cohesion, larger friend and family networks, and myriad examples of innovation and resourcefulness, it is not clear whether or how those benefits extend to LGBTQ+ rural residents. Rural areas also face specific challenges related to health and well-being, including lower socioeconomic status, fewer health care resources, and health care workforce shortages. The impact of intersecting challenges related to rurality, combined with those related to sexual orientation and gender identity are not well known. More information is needed from experts focused on LGBTQ+ health on the specific challenges and opportunities related to supporting the well-being of LGBTQ+ rural residents.

This policy brief presents findings from interviews with national LGBTQ+ support organizations regarding challenges to physical and mental health and well-being for LGBTQ+ individuals in rural communities, as well as considerations for improving the ability to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals living in rural areas.

University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
Megan Lahr, Carrie Henning-Smith, Gilbert Gonzales