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Wilfrid Laurier University Office of Research Services
December 3, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Project Descriptions

Our research program includes Ontario-wide, as well as Toronto and Waterloo
Region-based initiatives.

The Trans Pulse Project

ESH-HIV plays a major role in Trans PULSE, a CIHR-funded, multi-phase, mixed methods, community-based research program that explores the impact of social exclusion and transphobia on the health and well-being of trans Ontarians. To date, the study has included two qualitative phases as well as the most comprehensive survey ever implemented to assess the health, mental health, and quality of life issues facing trans people. The Trans PULSE team is committed to making sure that the information that comes out of this study is used to produce the greatest positive impact possible on the well-being of trans people. Keeping this in mind, the team has presented at numerous conferences and community events; released topic-specific (e.g., suicide and trans people) ‘E-Bulletins’ in both English and French; published academic papers to speak directly to a professional audience; released project reports often targeted for specific institutions; and is continuing to plan more knowledge dissemination strategies. Furthermore, Trans PULSE in partnership with Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO) hosted a Trans Health Advocacy Summit in August 2012 at Western University in London. This summit provided trans community change-makers, activists and allies living in Ontario with opportunities to learn about Trans PULSE data, share ideas, develop new skills, and create a support network for ongoing change efforts. 

Gay-Straight Alliances: Understanding the role of GSAs in producing resilient LGBT youth

Many Ontario high schools have established ‘Gay-Straight Alliances’ (GSAs) as a means of offering meaningful support in the school environment to LGBT students and their allies. This research initiative, underway since 2010, is dedicated to 1) understanding the ways in which GSAs serve to foster resiliency in LGBT youth in Waterloo Region, and 2) understanding the impact GSAs have had on school environments. Components to date have included a pilot survey with youth, as well as in-depth interviews with teachers, school administrators and students. In anticipation of Bill 13, the Ontario Accepting Schools Act (and some of the purported controversial clauses within it – i.e., mandating Catholic schools to allow GSAs), Laurier Communications released an ‘expert alert’ and Dr. Travers reported on some of the findings from this study in several media reports. It was very exciting and gratifying to be able to contribute evidence to a debate so fraught with emotional and ideological fervour. Our data show that the success of GSAs in Waterloo Region has hinged upon their being backed by broader government policy, and local resources; we have argued in a submitted peer-review manuscript1 that this is a model that other locales may want to emulate. A book chapter2 focused on the value of GSAs as a bullying intervention is also forthcoming. Future plans for the GSA study include surveying a larger sample of youth, additional in-depth interviews focused on some of the challenges administrators and teachers anticipate with the policy, and a content analysis of some of the more contentious media coverage of Bill 13. 

1 Forthcoming. The Success of Gay-Straight Alliances in the Waterloo Region of

Ontario: A Confluence of Political and Social Factors.

2 Forthcoming. The Role of Gay-Straight Alliances in Addressing Bullying in





The Trans Men's Sexual Health Study

Little empirical evidence is available to guide the development of HIV behavioural prevention programs for gay and bisexual trans men who have sex with other men. Policy makers and frontline prevention workers are therefore relying on information gleaned from studies of non-trans gay men to design HIV prevention campaigns and interventions for trans men. Funded by CIHR, this study will identify factors that shape HIV- related risk for trans men who have sex with men. This includes how trans men make decisions related to sexual health/activity and what impacts those decision-making processes. This project began September, 2012. 

Assessing Institutional REB Capacity for CBPR

Funded by CIHR, this 3- phase study examines the current challenges facing Canadian research ethics boards to fully understand and adequately assess CBPR projects. Phase one involved a content analysis of the review forms used by 99 REBs nationally; Phase 2 involved key informant interviews with 15 national stakeholders with expertise in CBPR and research ethics. Phase 3 involved 58 interviews with 29 community and academic partnership teams from funded HIV/AIDS CBPR initiatives across Canada. Data analysis is focussing on some of the unique ethical challenges facing these research teams and the role of REBs in assisting (or hindering) these teams with their challenges. From this study, we have been able to argue that REBs (because of their narrow focus on assessing risks to individuals in research) may unintentionally be setting up CBPR projects for unique ethical challenges and concerns. One of the first articles that we wrote (Flicker, Travers et al, 2008) has been cited 58 times to date, and formed the basis of a book chapter included in Community-based participatory research for health: From process to outcomes by internationally renowned CBPR scholar, Dr. Meredith Minkler. Guta, A., Wilson, M. G., Flicker, S., Travers, R., Mason, C., Wenyeve, G., & O’Campo, P. (2010). Are we asking the right questions? A review of Canadian
REB practices in relation to community-based participatory research. Journal of
Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 5, 35-46. [Cited 7 times]

Teens Resisting Urban Trans/Homophobia (TRUTH)

Funded by the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, TRUTH focussed on the broad impacts of homophobic discrimination on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in Toronto and Waterloo Region. In Waterloo Region, we utilized a photovoice method, whereby youth were equipped with cameras and instructed to take photos illustrating issues, concerns, etc. that they had as LGBT youth living in the region. These photographs have been used in the dissemination of the study findings; one such dissemination event took place at the Button Gallery in Kitchener and was attended by 150 people including both the mayors of Waterloo and Kitchener.

African Caribbean and Black Youth (ACBY) Project

ACBY is a community-based research project studying HIV/AIDS vulnerability of the African Caribbean and Black youth in Windsor and Essex County. We are a partnership between the University of Windsor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Youth Connection Association, African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO), and the AIDS Committee of Windsor and are funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

We will work with youth in Windsor and Essex County to:

• conduct research using surveys, interviews and focus groups
• complete a community mapping exercise
• build partnerships
• develop strategies to combat HIV/AIDS