The Diamondback: UMD Student Creates Club to Address Health Disparities in the LGBT Community
December 9, 2019

A recent article in The Diamondback profiled a new group at the School of Public Health for LGBTQ+ students and allies. The group’s draft mission statement is to promote LGBTQ+ health equity and social justice by engaging in research, advocacy, education and leadership projects and initiatives at UMD and beyond. 

Doctoral student John Salerno is leading the development of the group alongside behavioral and community health faculty members, Drs. Barbara Curbow and Sharon Desmond. All are members of the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) and form the UMD-PRC Mentoring Program team. 

The group is sponsored by the UMD-PRC, which conducts projects, research and training concerning issues of mental health issues among LGBTQ+ communities.

The tentatively named LGBTQ+ Students and Allies in Public Health, the group attracted 15 LGBTQ+ graduates and undergraduates to their November 21 open house.

Students and allies from the school of public health and other colleges, schools and departments gathered to discuss the needs of LGBTQ+ students on campus in terms of social justice and health equity, and potential projects this group could work on that could serve to address those needs. 

“In terms of social justice and what’s right and what’s wrong, especially in the political climate we’re in right now, we’ve seen a lot of unfair things happening to the LGBTQ+ community,” Salerno told The Diamondback. “We want a space where we can tackle some of these issues.”

LGBTQ+ Students and Allies in Public Health members want to become involved in LGBTQ+ issues around campus, such as advocating for gender-inclusive bathrooms in SPH and in UMD residence halls, increasing access to affirming mental health care for LGBTQ+ students, increasing professional preparedness of LGBTQ+ students via mentoring and networking initiatives and raising social capital and cohesion among LGBTQ+ students on campus. 

The group will begin meeting on a regular basis starting in Spring 2020. For more information about the student group, please contact John Salerno at

Related Links

The Diamondback: UMD student creates club to address health disparities in the LGBT community

LGBTQ+ Open House Photo Album

Related People
John Salerno, Barbara Anne Curbow, Sharon M. Desmond