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The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity is the education, research, and community engagement arm of Equitas Health, focusing on reducing health disparities in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. We do this by developing and delivering exceptional LGBTQ culturally competent healthcare education and training, engaging with LGBTQ and HIV-positive patients, working with community based organizations, and supporting LGBTQ health research efforts in our region.

Our work with the LGBTQ community encompasses all sexual and gender minorities, including, but not limited to, those who identify as pansexual, asexual, omnisexual, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex.


Cultural competency builds knowledge, awareness, skills, and capacity to identify, understand, and respect the unique beliefs, values, customs, languages, abilities, and traditions of all people in order to provide effective programs and services. The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity is prioritizing moving beyond cultural competency towards cultural humility. Cultural humility is an important tool for tackling issues of health disparities and health inequities in the LGBTQ community. Cultural humility is a lifelong process and commitment to self-evaluation, self-critique, learning, reflection, and working in partnership with those belonging to a different culture. It also includes recognizing and addressing power dynamics in any provider-patient/client relationship. To improve the overall safety and quality of care, organizations should aspire to meet the unique needs of their patients – patient by patient. Addressing patients and clients from a place of cultural humility increases overall engagement and retention in care, resulting in better health outcomes.

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Goal and Action Oriented

We strive to provide the tools needed to create meaningful organizational change in order to increase the quality of care for those who identify as LGBTQ. Participants will work towards achieving specific outcomes designed to increase culturally competent care resulting in improved patient retention, engagement, and optimal health.

Depth and Breadth

The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity seeks to provide thoughtful and complete education on a wide variety of topics.

Challenge and Enjoyment

Trainings are personal, interactive, and easily applicable to real world situations. We ask that individuals come ready to challenge their own beliefs and biases.

Cultural Humility

We believe that we learn most when interacting with those different than ourselves. We strive to provide a platform for dialogue between participants and members of the LGBTQ community to encourage understanding, empathy, and unconditional positive regard.


Our trainings emphasize best practices and incorporate data from recently published peer-reviewed articles.


Julia Applegate

Julia M. Applegate, MA


Julia M. Applegate directs the Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity at Equitas Health where she leads LGBTQ health education, research and community engagement efforts to improve the health and wellness of LGBTQ communities across Ohio. Prior to joining Equitas Health, Julia directed the LGBTQ Health Initiative at Columbus Public Health.

Julia has over 20 years of experience in curriculum design, education and public health programming/policy development. She has worked in public health programs focused on women’s health, HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ Health. With over 10 years of academic teaching experience, Ms. Applegate is a skilled trainer and experienced presenter who has designed curricula, conducted Train the Trainer programs and presented at local, state, national and international conferences on public health, HIV/AIDS, gender and sexual orientation topics. Her trainings have focused on questions of health equity, diversity and inclusion-focusing primarily on marginalized and underserved communities. Ms. Applegate has worked on numerous federal grants and is an experienced grant writer. She has done policy and program development at the local, state and international level as a government employee and as a member of a Board of Directors. Ms. Applegate has several years of management experience as a public health professional and is currently working on obtaining a Master of Public Health degree from The Ohio State University. Julia lives in the Glen Echo area of Clintonville with her partner of 15 years, Liv Gjestvang, their two children, Karsten and Solveig.

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Ramona J. Peel, MA

Lead Trainer

As the Lead Trainer for The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity, Ramona is directly involved in The Institute’s education, research, and community engagement programs. She collaborates on creating The Institute’s training programs, and leads the delivery of training to internal and external audiences. As Trans Health Navigator, Ramona is a resource and an advocate for trans and gender non-conforming clients at Equitas Health clinics in Columbus and Dayton. Ramona also is a Political Science instructor, and currently teaches at the Newark branch of The Ohio State University.

Ramona has 15 years of classroom teaching experience, and her work was recognized by the Ohio State University Political Science Department, which awarded her Henry R. Spencer Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2004. Her varied background and experience also includes social science research, broadcasting, journalism, and activism. In addition, her lived experience as a trans woman informs and enriches her work in training and clinic environments.

Ramona has a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University, where she graduated Cum Laude in 1997. She lives in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus and has two wonderful, supportive children.