Prism Project aims to advance inclusivity and foster safe spaces for LGBTQ+ Tulsans through research and education.

Prism Project uses research and data to inform the Tulsa community of the needs of LGBTQ+ Tulsans and provides local education and training to promote inclusivity, with the aspiration of expanding equity across the state of Oklahoma. By investing in research, training, and equitable data collection practices for gender and sexual minorities, we hope to lay a foundation for systemic change and position Tulsa as the most inclusive city in Middle America for LGBTQ+ people. We are educating the public on the existence, struggles, and beauty of LGBTQ+ Oklahomans in order to help Oklahoma be a state that promotes inclusivity and community.

Prism Project began as a report in 2019 when Tulsa Reaches Out, a fund of the Tulsa Community Foundation, commissioned The Hope Research Center at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa to conduct a needs assessment of Tulsa’s LGBTQ+ community. Now, we are breathing new life into the work by establishing Prism Project as an ongoing research initiative that will continue assessing the needs of LGBTQ+ Tulsans and offer resources to the Tulsa community to support gender and sexual minorities.

The Problem
  • Conditions for LGBTQ+ Oklahomans are deteriorating as rights are suppressed through inequitable access to healthcare, legal and governmental documents, and facilities and as our education system pushes for the censorship of LGBTQ+-affirming curricula and books.
  • Political leaders are attempting to explicitly eradicate queer and trans identities and discussion in education by pushing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the state. This chilling effect extends to all other state-supported programming impacting our youth and the community at large.

  • Many trans Oklahomans are concerned for loss of access to gender-affirming care in their schools, workplaces, and community, which has subsequently negatively impacted their mental health.

  • LGBTQ+ youth continue to face inequitable mental health disparities and access to affirming mental health care.

  • LGBTQ+ and allied students and educators are existing in increasingly hostile school environment.

The Solution
  • Everyone deserves to feel safe. Tulsa can and must promote inclusivity at organizations and institutions to ensure that everyone – no matter their gender or sexual identity – feels welcomed by our community.
  • By centering stories of LGBTQ+ Tulsans, we can offer empathy and compassion toward the joys and challenges they experience in their day-to-day lives. And in doing so, we can better understand how the Tulsa community can improve living conditions for all.
  • The Tulsa community needs data and research to understand how LGBTQ+ Tulsans are impacted by state, local, and institutional policies that affect their mental health and well-being to ensure that everyone has access to appropriate resources and services.
The Action
  • Advance inclusion through research, LGBTQ+-informed education, and awareness efforts to reduce stigma, maintain access to medical and mental health care, and build a more supportive and inclusive community in Tulsa and ultimately Oklahoma.
  • Inform institutions and organizations on the needs of LGBTQ+ Tulsans and how they can better support gender and sexual minorities.
  • Encourage additional support services that offer reactive support to the rapidly changing climate in Oklahoma, including promoting inclusivity across our education systems, youth-serving agencies, healthcare institutions, law enforcement, workplaces, and faith-based organizations.
  • Support advocacy efforts related to equitable data collection of sexual and gender minorities, research on the needs and experiences of gender and sexual minorities, and LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and practices.