LGBTQ & Racial Justice Seed Grants Program

In 2021, the Williams Institute launched a seed grants program to support policy-relevant research at the intersections of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Researchers from across the country submitted over 80 proposals spanning a range of topics that uniquely impact LGBTQ people of color, including access to health care, discrimination, policing, detention, educational barriers, and more.

We are pleased to announce that six proposals have been selected to receive awards.

Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services among Black LBQ+ Women

Black lesbian, bisexual, queer, and other sexual minority (LBQ+) women face barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services. Interpersonal sexual orientation and racial discrimination independently undermine sexual and reproductive health services use among U.S. women. However, very few studies have examined whether and how interpersonal sexual orientation and racial discrimination simultaneously affect sexual and reproductive health services use among Black LBQ+ women. Structural sexual orientation and racial discrimination (e.g., laws, policies) have been linked to poor health and health care outcomes among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) and Black individuals, respectively. However, studies investigating associations between structural sexual orientation and racial discrimination and sexual and reproductive health are scarce, and no study of which we are aware has focused on Black LBQ+ women in particular.

We will conduct a national online survey of Black LBQ+ U.S. women aged 18-44 years to investigate how both interpersonal and structural sexual orientation and racial discrimination influence sexual and reproductive health services use among Black LBQ+ women. Our novel findings, which we will disseminate using manuscripts, factsheets, infographics, a study website, and social media, will help inform multilevel strategies that promote sexual and reproductive health among Black LBQ+ women.

Madina Agénor, ScD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Center for Health Promotion and Health Equity, Brown University School of Public Health
Adjunct Faculty, The Fenway Institute
Director, The Sexual Health and Reproductive Experiences (SHARE) Lab
John Jackson, PhD
Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Keosha Bond, EdD, MPH
Assistant Medical Professor at City University of New York School of Medicine
Nkiru Nnawulezi, PhD
Community Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Megan Threats, PhD
Information Scientist and an Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science in the
School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University
Mortgage Experience and Discrimination Among Same-Sex Borrowers in the United States: Evidence from the National Survey of Mortgage Originations

Homeownership is the largest vehicle for wealth creation and growth for Americans, including LGBTQ and ethno-racial minorities. In addition to financial benefits, homeownership is often associated with better neighborhood amenities such as quality schools, lower crime rates, and increased social networks. However, social stratification in access to homeownership is a large component of asset inequality. Marginalized households are often unable to take advantage of many financing resources, tax incentives that subsidize mortgages, and opportunities to transfer wealth at a reduced tax rate. Equal access to homeownership remains a major challenge, despite decades of anti-discrimination laws and regulations such as the Fair Housing Act. Until recently, federal agencies did not enforce laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Previous research shows that ethno-racial minorities face substantial discrimination in the lending market, but it is unclear how mortgage experiences differ among the same-sex couples and the intersection of sexual orientation and race/ethnicity.

To fill the gap in the literature, this project uses the National Survey of Mortgage Originations to investigate the experiences with mortgage lending among same-sex and minority same-sex borrowers. NSMO uses a nationally representative sample from 2013 to 2017 of first-lien residential mortgages. Results from this project allow us to compare the perceptions, knowledge, satisfaction, and incidence of discrimination of mortgages among sex-same borrowers, minorities, and other types of borrowers. Our project aims to incorporate sexual orientation as a major dimension in the social stratification and housing literature in access to mortgage credit.


Yiwen (Xavier) Kuai, MUP
PhD candidate at the Department of Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
José Loya
Assistant Professor in Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Faculty Affiliate, Chicano Studies Research Center
Beyond Medical Mistrust: Psychological, Social Influence, and Social-Structural Factors Associated with Black Sexual and Gender Minority People’s Willingness to Participate in COVID Research

In addition to vaccines currently authorized for use to prevent severe coronavirus disease (COVID) and death, more biomedical interventions are in the pipeline, including other vaccine candidates, convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibody therapies for COVID prevention and treatment. Clinical trials evaluating safety and efficacy of these interventions require diverse volunteer participation, particularly by disproportionately impacted populations (e.g., Black/African Americans). Yet Black people’s underrepresentation in clinical trials is a persistent challenge. Rapid mobilization by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and HIV Vaccine Trials Network to establish the Coronavirus Prevention Network (CoVPN) provides an unique opportunity to resolve the problem of suboptimal diversity in biomedical research. While medical research mistrust is a commonly cited barrier, other individual-level factors may influence participation decisions, including social influences, racial-ethnic salience, and altruism. Research into this topic typically focuses on a single axis of identity (i.e., race only), and less examined are factors influencing participation decisions among Black sexual and gender minorities.

This study aims to examine potential psychosocial, community-level and social-structural barriers and facilitators of Black SGM people’s willingness to participate in COVID vaccine and treatment research, in the hopes of highlighting gaps in policies geared toward advancing diversity in biomedical research.

Cheriko A. Boone, MSW, MPH, MA
PhD candidate in Applied Social Psychology, George Washington University
The Health Effects of Expanded Earned Income Tax Credits at the Intersections of Race, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals experience poverty at higher rates than their straight, cis-gendered counterparts. Even within the LGBTQ+ community, those with multiple marginalized identities, especially Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) experience steeper rates of poverty. Considering socioeconomic status plays an important role in shaping the health of individuals, we must look at major components of antipoverty policy in the United States through a lens of intersectional justice.

This study examines the effects of Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) on the health of LGBTQ+ BIPOC. EITCs provide refundable tax credit to individuals meeting certain criteria, generally based on income and the number of dependents. While the EITC started as a federal program, many states created their own versions with differing credit amounts and eligibility criteria. Many policymakers laud EITCs for being the most effective antipoverty initiative in the United States, lifting millions out of poverty and positively impacting the health of recipients; however, we know little about how this policy works for LGBTQ+ BIPOC who experience unique determinants of poverty and disparities in many measures of health and wellbeing.

Kellen Kane, MPA
PhD candidate in Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Experiences of Transgender and Nonbinary Migrants in Immigration Detention Centers

Despite the existence of policies concerning treatment of transgender and non-binary (TNB) individuals during immigration detention, they are neither consistently adhered to, nor enforced. Discrimination and maltreatment of TNB people in immigration detention are characterized by high rates of sexual assault, unsafe housing conditions including solitary confinement and assignment based on birth sex, and lack of access to gender-affirming care. A history of trauma often exacerbates preexisting mental and physical health issues including untreated gender dysphoria, underlying chronic health conditions, and risk of suicidality. Once released from detention, TNB asylum-seekers and migrants continue to be highly vulnerable to multiple intersecting forms of discrimination including xenophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism, which create barriers to accessing housing, employment, health care, and social support resources. Currently, limited data specifically characterizing experiences of TNB populations often combine gender minorities with sexual minorities, masking unique forms of gender identity discrimination.

To better inform resource allocation and policy reform efforts supporting TNB individuals seeking relief from removal, this project aims to (1) characterize the experiences of TNB individuals during detention by ICE and; (2) identify gaps between needs of TNB asylum-seekers and migrants post-detention and the availability of resources from community and other support organizations. 

Liz Kvach, MD, MA
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency
Medical Director, Denver Health LGBTQ Center of Excellence
Ryan O’Connell, MS
PhD candidate in Health and Behavioral Sciences, University of Colorado Denver
Research Instructor, College of Nursing and Colorado School of Public Health, Anschutz Medical Campus
Researcher, Denver Health LGBTQ Center of Excellence
Jenny Regier, JD
Equal Justice Works fellow, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network
Katherine Valentin, MSW
Social Worker, Social Service Project, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network
Monica Adams, MA
PhD student in Health and Behavioral Sciences, University of Colorado Denver