Nearly $4M in federal grants will help UArizona institute expand resources for LGBTQ+ youth

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Chris Richards/University Communications

A pair of federal grants totaling nearly $4 million will help a longstanding University of Arizona research institute expand programs that support LGBTQ+ youth in Southern Arizona.

The university's Southwest Institute for Research on Women received the two grants, both from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

One grant, for $2.5 million, will over the next five years fund Spectrum+, building upon previous SIROW programming, which provides sexual health education, HIV and hepatitis testing and HIV prevention navigation. The program also helps connect participants to mental health services and treatment for substance abuse and other disorders.

The other grant, for $1.2 million over the next three years, will support SIROW's Family Pride Initiative, which provides mental health services to LGBTQ+ youth, as well as training for parents, counselors and others who provide care to LGBTQ+ youth.

Founded in 1979, SIROW is a research institute based in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences whose mission involves addressing social inequities and public health issues to improve the well-being of women, girls, the LGBTQ+ community and other diverse groups.

Courtney Waters is an associate research social scientist who oversees much of SIROW's sexual health programming, including Spectrum+ and Family Pride. Both projects aim to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ youth in Southern Arizona that there are mental health and sex education resources available that are designed for them.

"If these projects can help create public spaces and environments where people just feel safer existing and being themselves, that would be huge," Waters said.

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