Jaz Routon earned their Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their community-engaged research focuses on rural LGBTQ+ individuals and families and their experiences of poverty, housing instability, and other social inequities. In particular, their research critically engages with LGBTQ policy at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels to best understand capacity-building strategies for the health and wellbeing of queer populations.
Driven by community-engaged research, advocacy, and social justice, Dr. Routon also served on the Equality Illinois Community Advisory Group to strengthen the advocacy network across the state of Illinois. They served on the boards of several non-profits including Uniting Pride of Champaign County which advocates for the equality, wellness, and visibility of LGBTQ+ communities in Champaign County, Illinois. Through this role, they led the Training Committee which provided educational workshops, such as LGBTQ Cultural Competency, to audiences at a wide-variety of institutions including primary school classes, teachers and staff, incoming University teaching assistants, faith groups, nonprofits, and Extension personnel, to name a few. They also mentored undergraduate student interns interested in providing resources to queer populations.
Routon is passionate about combatting social stigma against LGBTQ individuals and families to promote affirming stances. Participating in advocacy through community-engaged research and teaching is suicide prevention, which is why leadership in these arenas is so important.