Jason Bernheimer poses for a portrait.
Jason Bernheimer on his efforts to advocate for resources for the LGBTQ+ community in the greater Fox Cities: “Inclusivity is always the best policy.” (Photo by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Spanish and global studies double major Jason Bernheimer ’22 figured out how to combine his passions in a research project. The Lawrence University sophomore from Vancouver, Washington, visited various clinics in the Fox Cities to find out what Spanish-language health resources are available to Appleton’s LGBTQ+ community.

This type of work is familiar territory for Bernheimer. In high school, he worked for different departments within the Washington state government, doing workshops with state officials on how to successfully serve a gender-diverse community.

Behind all of this is Bernheimer’s philosophy that inclusivity is key.

“Inclusivity is always the best policy,” he said. “I think this applies to many different realms, not just gender inclusivity or the LGBTQ+ community. It’s important for all sorts of things.”

In the field

Bernheimer, working on an independent study project through professor of Spanish Rosa Tapia, knew that patients with health resources available in their preferred language — especially having access to health professionals who speak that language — have significantly better experiences in clinics than those without. So, what resources does Appleton provide for the Spanish-speaking community members who need them? And what about the LGBTQ+ community, another group that benefits from targeted health services?

Bernheimer hopped on his bike and went from clinic to clinic in search of answers. The results? There aren’t many health centers in the Fox Cities that provide adequate Spanish-language resources for Latinx patients. Nor is there any overlap between these resources and those targeted toward the LGBTQ+ community.

“That was something I found to be really concerning, and somewhere we have room to grow as a community and as a city,” Bernheimer said.

Regardless, Bernheimer said he had impactful conversations with clinics and nonprofits that have been working hard to support Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities in the Fox Cities. One is Casa Hispana, a Fox Cities nonprofit that develops initiatives to better the lives of Latinx locals, including connecting them to resources.

Connecting to the community

The research was relevant to Bernheimer not just as a student but as a Fox Cities community member.

“It was a really helpful experience for me in general,” he said. “More than just doing the research but also becoming more a part of the Fox Cities community. [The research] presented itself as an opportunity for something I wasn’t aware of as someone who is residing in the Fox Cities.”

The research also lays the groundwork for his future plans to help companies implement inclusive practices and policies.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.