The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

Implementing Affordable Care Act, Section 4302: An Overview of Federal Efforts and Implications for Data Collection

by Emilia Dunham

Reporting on “The Affordable Care Act (Part II): Section 4302 and Implications for Data Collection” call earlier this afternoon

(Webinar was sponsored by the Aetna Foundation and AcademyHealth)

On the call today David Meyers of the Center for Primary Care, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality discussed how Section 4302 of the ACA lists requirements for data collection of disparity populations affecting prevention, public health, expansion of coverage and access to care. Here were some take-aways:

  • Data from national surveillance will be available for public research, but privacy will be maintained.
  • Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will establish data collection standards, calling for specific language for funding.
  • Five specific standards for data collection at a minimum: Race, Ethnicity, Primary Language, Disability Status and Sex.
    • All surveys and all agencies supported by DHHS would be required to collect for these standards.
    • Secretary Sebelius has authority to require additional standards and is considering additional categories.
    • There will be listening sessions for the public to include comments on adding additional categories such as sexual orientation and gender identity. They are asking for comments on burden versus value of adding categories.
    • Next steps: Input will be incorporated, and the DHHS Secretary will either add, reject, ask for more information or more time on new categories to include.

 What to ask in listening sessions and what feedback we should provide to the DHHS?

DHHS is looking for answers on the following questions

  • What characteristic(s) do you think should be added to the current list of race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status to further address health disparities?
  • How many individuals would be affected if data addressing this topic is collected?
  • Is there evidence that a health disparity exists for this characteristic?
  • Have any instruments been developed and tested to measure this demographic characteristic? If so, please provide a brief summary of the measures and evaluation results.  If not, do you have recommendations as to the questions that should be asked or how the measures should be developed?
  • Has information on this characteristic ever been collected, presented, published, or televised? If so, where has this been done? 
  • Recognizing that demographic data, especially data related to disparities, may be sensitive, elicit prejudices, and affect individual’s willingness to provide information, do you have information about how collecting information on this category may affect overall data collection activities and how to maximize data quality?
  • Do you have any recommendations as to how the Secretary should decide (i.e., what criteria should be used) whether the potential for burden of adding your proposed characteristics would outweigh the need to gather additional information to address health disparities?
  • Do you have any other recommendations with respect to any other demographic data regarding health disparities that you would like the Secretary to consider?

Feedback relating to our community

One person on the call asked whether additional populations will be captured under the current 5 categories like transgender populations. Presenters stated that sex is without a doubt not just “male” or “female”, but it’s possible that options can expanded to include “other”, “transgender” or another option. HHS is needing answers on how to expand the category of sex/gender to include transgender categories.

Next Steps:

There will be additional listening sessions though many were sent by invitation only.

The Network is having a BrownBag Webinar on Monday, November 22, 2010 at 4pm to discuss what information to submit and how to respond about adding LGBT measures for federal surveillance. Please email us with thoughts or information at lgbttobacco@gmail.com or register for the call here.  See our blog post for more information.

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November 18, 2010 Posted by | Presentations, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

CDC’s National Tobacco Control Networks Support Puerto Rico LGBT Community Events & Inclusion

Sunday, June 6, 2010 was a bright sunny day and full of excitement in Puerto Rico. People from all walks of life participated in Gay Pride festivities in the capital city, San Juan. While paying respects to the families of the several transgender women murdered in the last months across the island, local LGBT groups, activists, a few government officials, and thousands from all genders and sexual orientations showed their pride and support for the LGBT community. In between vibrant shows, words of unity and calls for action, participants were thirsty for gay memorabilia, educational resources, and opportunities to support equality for all. Similar events took place in the gay-friendly setting of Boquerón on June 13 in the town of Cabo Rojo.

San Juan Pride participants complete our health-tobacco survey which is currently collecting data on the LGBT community in Puerto Rico

For these two consecutive Sundays and with much enthusiasm, a handful of volunteers led by members of the National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN) and the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network engaged over 500 people who showed interest in our “mini-gay-library” of publications on health, tobacco issues, legal rights, community surveys, a government petition, bags, pens, pins, candies, and other goodies and educational materials. Donated by Lambda Legal (www.lambdalegal.org), a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of LGBT civil rights, hundreds of “I am making the case for equality” bags were filled not only with Lambda’s materials on civil rights for HIV+ people, youth in the education system, and legal and financial planning for LGBT couples, but also with educational materials from the two Networks, the Puerto Rico Tobacco Free Coalition, the Puerto Rico Department of Health Cessation Quitline !Déjalo ya! (Leave It Now!), the Latino Commission on AIDS, and the Social Justice Sexuality Initiative from the City University of New York (CUNY). Members of these two National Tobacco Control Networks were able to pull together resources from all these organizations in order to educate the community. Some provided supplies; others purchased the tables and chairs, or paid for volunteer lunches, while allies from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) provided staff and logistical support in preparation for the events. This collaboration was essential to provide Pride participants with health information and other educational opportunities, which seemed very limited during the festivities.

Through our participation in Pride events, we were able to collect an additional 292 NLTCN sponsored health-tobacco surveys among the LGBT community of Puerto Rico. This increases the total survey sample to 431 since distribution began in local LGBT events and activities in November 2009. We continue the search for additional venues to distribute the survey and increase the final sample. We are currently analyzing the sample with the support of our NLTCN Steering Committee Member, Dr. Elba Díaz-Toro, Associate Professor of the School of Dental Medicine, UPR.

In addition, a total of 420 signatures were collected for a Lambda sponsored petition asking the Puerto Rican Department of Justice and the local Police Department to create official links within their respective agencies with groups and individuals representing the LGBT community. Some local groups have claimed that in the last eight months seven murders of gay and transgender people have taken place around the Island, which motivated people to sign the petition. National and local groups will be taking the signatures directly to government officials and agencies. Networks’ members have been active on rallying support, sharing information, and connecting local groups and individuals with national resources in support of comprehensive approaches to address issues of health disparities, stigma, and discrimination towards the local LGBT community. Lessons learned will be shared later among other Latin@ and LGBT groups in the mainland.

Boquerón Pride participants approach our booth to fill out surveys, support a police petition, and collect educational material on tobacco control, equal rights, and other issues affecting our communities.

Just as important was the distribution of the Social Justice Sexuality Survey, a nationwide initiative that investigates the socio-political experiences of LGBT people of color, sponsored by the Sociology Department of the City University of New York (CUNY) in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, among other gay advocacy groups. During our participation at Pride events, National Network members collected a total of 115 completed surveys providing a richer set of data to create a profile of the LGBT community in Puerto Rico. The Initiative is interested in better understanding how identity enhances or inhibits the experiences of the LGBT population around accessing health, civic and social engagement, among other important issues. Folks can complete the survey online and read more about the Initiative at www.socialjusticesexuality.com

Furthermore, during the last Puerto Rico Tobacco Free Coalition meeting in June 2010, hosted by the Puerto Rico Department of Health (DOH-PR), National Networks’ members had the opportunity to bring the LGBT perspective to the agenda. We distributed valuable educational materials from NLTCN and the LGBT Tobacco Control Network and discussed the inclusion of gender and sexual orientation questions in island-wide surveillance surveys. During the exchange of ideas, Quitline staff showed interest to incorporate these questions as part of the demographic data collected during calls, but showed concern regarding LGBT cultural competency and over saturation of demographic questions. The DOH-PR is also communicating with the CDC to include these questions in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for Puerto Rico in accordance to the LGBT Surveillance and Data Collection Briefing Paper (2008) from the LGBT Tobacco Control Network and as supported in the recently released report by the American Lung Association, Smoking Out a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community. Local tobacco Coalition members are ready to be inclusive of the LGBT community and address the need for additional research specific to the LGBT community.

Since 2009, both Networks have been overwhelmingly supportive of surveillance opportunities, outreach, and education, including the translation, edition, and adaptation of the survey instrument and by identifying (and sponsoring) national Latin@ LGBT tobacco control experts to introduce this issue at the last DOH-PR sponsored Tobacco-Obesity Summit. This was probably the first time an LGBT perspective, including preliminary local survey results, were presented to the tobacco control and public health communities of the Island.

An equally valuable opportunity took place in May 2009 at the LGBTT Health Forum: Experiences in Tobacco Control during the III Congress Against Homophobia, a week-long event sponsored by the local LGBT group, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s (Puerto Rico For All – www.prparatodos.org). The Forum was sponsored by NLTCN and the School of Dental Medicine-UPR and with support from the DOH-PR we collected more responses for the LGBT community health-tobacco survey and distributed Networks’ brochures and publications to a crowd of mostly medical students and several local Coalition members. The Forum provided a space to rally allies and educate the audience on realities of oppression and discrimination among the LGBT community and how it directly affects healthcare access and services.

Many local advocates have showed interest as we have been navigating and supporting these events in further discussing LGBT health among LGBT Puerto Ricans and their allies. Merging tobacco control efforts with other health and social justice issues (while sharing limited resources during funding cuts) will be a sensible approach to engage the LGBT community in Puerto Rico. Local advocates will seek support from the CDC National Networks and other national gay groups to move work forward in Puerto Rico.

We thank the sponsoring groups for providing unconditional support to achieving our vision and participate in these events. To all the people that have helped the work move forward, including Island volunteers (Jose Santini, Wilfredo Santana, Fernando Sosa, Thomas Bryan, Sophia Isabel Marrero, Michael Roldan, Rahul Correa, and Carmín Maldonado), NLTCN staff and members (Jeannette Noltenius, Aida McCammon, Yanira Arias, and JC Velazquez), LGBT Tobacco Control Network staff (Scout, Gustavo Torrez, and Sasha Kaufmann) and its fabulous print publications and online resources, Puerto Rico Department of Health-Tobacco Control and Prevention Division staff (Antonio Cases and Alex Cabrera), the members of the Puerto Rico Tobacco Free Coalition, the medical students and staff at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Science Campus, and all the local Puerto Rico LGBT groups and individuals that have been supportive and excited to pursue this work.

This report was supported by CDC Cooperative Agreement Number U58/DP001515. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. It was developed, edited, and translated into Spanish by NLTCN and LGBT Tobacco Control Network Members Juan Carlos Vega, Lissette Rodríguez, and Jean A. Leroux Guillén.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 was a bright sunny day and full of excitement in Puerto Rico. People from

all walks of life participated in Gay Pride festivities in the capital city, San Juan. While paying

respects to the families of the several transgender women murdered in the last months across

the island, local LGBT groups, activists, a few government officials, and thousands from all

genders and sexual orientations showed their pride and support for the LGBT community. In

between vibrant shows, words of unity and calls for action, participants were thirsty for gay

memorabilia, educational resources, and opportunities to support equality for all. Similar events

took place in the gay‐friendly setting of Boquerón on June 13 in the town of Cabo Rojo.

For these two consecutive Sundays and with much

enthusiasm, a handful of volunteers led by members of

the National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN)

and the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network

engaged over 500 people who showed interest in our

“mini‐gay‐library” of publications on health, tobacco

issues, legal rights, community surveys, a government

petition, bags, pens, pins, candies, and other goodies and

educational materials. Donated by Lambda Legal

(http://www.lambdalegal.org), a national organization

committed to achieving full recognition of LGBT civil

rights, hundreds of “I am making the case for equality” bags were filled not only with Lambda’s

materials on civil rights for HIV+ people, youth in the education system, and legal and financial

planning for LGBT couples, but also with educational materials from the two Networks, the

Puerto Rico Tobacco Free Coalition, the Puerto Rico Department of Health Cessation Quitline

!Déjalo ya! (Leave It Now!), the Latino Commission on AIDS, and the Social Justice Sexuality

Initiative from the City University of New York (CUNY). Members of these two National Tobacco

Control Networks were able to pull together resources from all these organizations in order to

educate the community. Some provided supplies; others

purchased the tables and chairs, or paid for volunteer

lunches, while allies from the University of Puerto Rico

(UPR) provided staff and logistical support in preparation

for the events. This collaboration was essential to

provide Pride participants with health information and

other educational opportunities, which seemed very

limited during the festivities.

Through our participation in Pride events, we were able

to collect an additional 292 NLTCN sponsored healthtobacco

surveys among the LGBT community of Puerto

Rico. This increases the total survey sample to 431 since

distribution began in local LGBT events and activities in

November 2009. We continue the search for additional

venues to distribute the survey and increase the final

sample. We are currently analyzing the sample with the

support of our NLTCN Steering Committee Member, Dr.

Elba Díaz‐Toro, Associate Professor of the School of

Dental Medicine, UPR.

In addition, a total of 420 signatures were collected for a Lambda sponsored petition asking the

Puerto Rican Department of Justice and the local Police Department to create official links within

their respective agencies with groups and individuals representing the LGBT community. Some

local groups have claimed that in the last eight months seven murders of gay and transgender

people have taken place around the Island, which motivated people to sign the petition. National

and local groups will be taking the signatures directly to government officials and agencies.

Networks’ members have been active on rallying support, sharing information, and connecting

local groups and individuals with national resources in support of comprehensive approaches to

address issues of health disparities, stigma, and discrimination towards the local LGBT

community. Lessons learned will be shared later among other Latin@ and LGBT groups in the

mainland.

Just as important was the distribution of the Social Justice Sexuality Survey, a nationwide

initiative that investigates the socio‐political experiences of LGBT people of color, sponsored by

the Sociology Department of the City University of New York (CUNY) in partnership with the

Human Rights Campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, among other gay advocacy groups.

During our participation at Pride events, National Network members collected a total of 115

completed surveys providing a richer set of data to create a profile of the LGBT community in

Puerto Rico. The Initiative is interested in better understanding how identity enhances or

inhibits the experiences of the LGBT population around accessing health, civic and social

engagement, among other important issues. Folks can complete the survey online and read more

about the Initiative at http://www.socialjusticesexuality.com

Furthermore, during the last Puerto Rico Tobacco Free Coalition meeting in June 2010, hosted by

the Puerto Rico Department of Health (DOH‐PR), National Networks’ members had the

opportunity to bring the LGBT perspective to the agenda. We distributed valuable educational

materials from NLTCN and the LGBT Tobacco Control Network and discussed the inclusion of

gender and sexual orientation questions in island‐wide surveillance surveys. During the

exchange of ideas, Quitline staff showed interest to incorporate these questions as part of the

demographic data collected during calls, but showed concern regarding LGBT cultural

competency and over saturation of demographic questions. The DOH‐PR is also communicating

with the CDC to include these questions in

the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance

System (BRFSS) for Puerto Rico in

accordance to the LGBT Surveillance and Data

Collection Briefing Paper (2008) from the

LGBT Tobacco Control Network and as

supported in the recently released report by

the American Lung Association, Smoking Out

a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT

Community. Local tobacco Coalition

members are ready to be inclusive of the

LGBT community and address the need for

additional research specific to the LGBT

community.

Since 2009, both Networks have been overwhelmingly supportive of surveillance opportunities,

outreach, and education, including the translation, edition, and adaptation of the survey

instrument and by identifying (and sponsoring) national Latin@ LGBT tobacco control experts to

introduce this issue at the last DOH‐PR sponsored Tobacco‐Obesity Summit. This was probably

the first time an LGBT perspective, including preliminary local survey results, were presented to

the tobacco control and public health communities of the Island.

An equally valuable opportunity took place in May 2009 at the LGBTT Health Forum: Experiences

in Tobacco Control during the III Congress Against Homophobia, a week‐long event sponsored by

the local LGBT group, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s (Puerto Rico For All ‐ http://www.prparatodos.org). The

Forum was sponsored by NLTCN and the School of Dental Medicine‐UPR and with support from

the DOH‐PR we collected more responses for the LGBT community health‐tobacco survey and

distributed Networks’ brochures and publications to a crowd of mostly medical students and

several local Coalition members. The Forum provided a space to rally allies and educate the

audience on realities of oppression and discrimination among the LGBT community and how it

directly affects healthcare access and services.

Many local advocates have showed interest as we have been navigating and supporting these

events in further discussing LGBT health among LGBT Puerto Ricans and their allies. Merging

tobacco control efforts with other health and social justice issues (while sharing limited

resources during funding cuts) will be a sensible approach to engage the LGBT community in

Puerto Rico. Local advocates will seek support from the CDC National Networks and other

national gay groups to move work forward in Puerto Rico.

We thank the sponsoring groups for providing unconditional support to achieving our vision and

participate in these events. To all the people that have helped the work move forward, including

Island volunteers (Jose Santini, Wilfredo Santana, Fernando Sosa, Thomas Bryan, Sophia Isabel

Marrero, Michael Roldan, Rahul Correa, and Carmín Maldonado), NLTCN staff and members

(Jeannette Noltenius, Aida McCammon, Yanira Arias, and JC Velazquez), LGBT Tobacco Control

Network staff (Scout, Gustavo Torrez, and Sasha Kaufmann) and its fabulous print publications

and online resources, Puerto Rico Department of Health‐Tobacco Control and Prevention

Division staff (Antonio Cases and Alex Cabrera), the members of the Puerto Rico Tobacco Free

Coalition, the medical students and staff at the University of Puerto Rico‐Medical Science

Campus, and all the local Puerto Rico LGBT groups and individuals that have been supportive

and excited to pursue this work.

This report was supported by CDC Cooperative Agreement Number U58/DP001515. Its contents are solely the

responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. It was developed, edited, and

translated into Spanish by NLTCN and LGBT Tobacco Control Network Members:

Juan Carlos Vega, MLS

Activist Librarian &

Information Consultant

Lissette Rodríguez, MA, BSEd

Health Educator

Jean

October 13, 2010 Posted by | Puerto Rico | , , | Leave a comment

Tobacco Industry’s Newest Target: Hipsters

In a recent Media Network Web-cast with the Office of Smoking Health, Stacey Anderson and her colleagues presented on their research: Acceptable Rebellion’: Marketing Hipster Aesthetics to Sell Camel Cigarettes in the U.S.

As an urban resident myself, hipsters are a trademark of my area. Ever impressed with their sense of style, I’ll see hipsters hanging out on their stoops or in front of dive bars/cultural venues with their bicycles, tight pants, plaid and retro/alternative clothing. However, just as ubiquitous as the edgy haircuts and tattoe are the cigarettes in their hands. Which is not far from the truth as 56% of hipsters smoke.

So why are these numbers so high? According to the presentation/article, hipsters seek outlets for freedom and self-expression. They admire the kitsch, absurd, eccentric, and Camel has positioned itself to deliver what hipsters are attracted to.

Why has Camel targeted hipsters? For one, since mainstream advertising options have been restricted, tobacco industries have become acquainted with targeting underground, “alternative lifestyles” (ex. the LGBT community).

What makes hipsters easier targets is their often nihilistic outlook on life that influences them to disregard traditional health warnings against smoking.

The tobacco industry is also aware that “underground” culture influences the market, and while hipsters typically intend to be anti-establishment, they often set mainstream trends.

To overcome the fact that hipsters reject mainstream messages, tobacco marketers admittedly aim to get hipsters to think that they started the trend of smoking.

Just as the tobacco industry has targeted sub-cultural groups by essentially manipulating and inverting their own values against themselves, we need to be less straightforward with our intervention strategy. For instance, perhaps we should expose the manipulation of the tobacco industry’s attempt to infuse a corporate, mainstream product into their culture. Another idea that the presenter brought up would be to use advertising campaigns that hipsters may find attractive, like internet based relatable UrbanFuel.org and XpoZLV.com. The latter of which also hosts smokefree alternative concerts.

For more information on this, an abstract and summary of the article is available at the following link. ‘Acceptable Rebellion’: Marketing Hipster Aesthetics to Sell Camel Cigarettes in the U.S.,  (Tobacco Control, June 2010), Yogi Hendlin, Ph.D. candidate, UC Los Angeles and Stacey Anderson, Ph.D., UC San Francisco.

Blog post by Emilia Dunham

Network Program Associate

 

 

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August 27, 2010 Posted by | social media, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Deconstructing a Disparity: Association of Violence and Discrimination with Smoking Among Sexual Minority Youth Adults

This afternoon, I attended some intriguing presentations from the Population Center’s Summer Institute graduates. Among them, John Blosnich, PhD candidate of Public Health Sciences at West Virginia University stuck out as a researcher looking into violence and discrimination within the context of LGB youth smoking rates. In his presentation, titled:  “Deconstructing a Disparity: Association of Violence and Discrimination with Smoking Among Sexual Minority Youth Adults,” John discusses the hypothesis that minority stress (including homophobia, alcohol abuse, depression, disclosure and bullying) may impact smoking rates among LGB youth–specifically, with regarding minority stress, how sexual minorities use tobacco as a strategy to deal with stress.

Using the National College Health Assessment Survey Fall 2008/Spring 2009 data, John identified the variables victimization, discrimination and tobacco use in comparing gay, lesbians and bisexuals with heterosexuals. As expected, GLB youth experienced not only higher rates of smoking but also higher rates of sexual assault, discrimination, physical assault and threats. However, despite higher rates of all of these factors, higher rates of discrimination and assault did not translate into higher smoking rates. In other words, discrimination and other minority related negative experiences did not affect smoking rates in this sample.

As a result of these findings, John plans to look at resiliency as a factor in why LGBT people who experience discrimination don’t smoke. In addition, he plans to look more closely at gender and race within this context. We are very excited to follow the progress of John’s research project to see what his research yields. Stay tuned for some information, and for more information or to discuss the project, please email him.

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate with the Network for LGBT Tobacco Control

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August 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Accepting Student Scholarship Applications for SRNT Conference!

Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco

Not many of us don’t end up going to one of the conferences that has a lot of valuable information about tobacco, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT), because some of it is pretty dry science — but there’s a lot of good information there.  So to help make sure we get the latest news without having to sit thru all the presentations…. the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network would like to announce its 2nd annual Blogging Scholarship to SRNT!  If you think you’d be a good person to go to SRNT, and blog about all the latest and greatest you hear about so we can all feel the burn, then — come on down. 

The Network will pay your way, guarantee you as much caffeine as you need, and even set you up with some experienced researchers to kinda give you the inside track while you’re there.  All you have to do is keep a daily blog of the happenings, amuse us, inform us, just don’t bore us!  Check out what last year’s recipient did!

 If you think you have what it takes you must apply…

This opportunity is open to STUDENTS ONLY… and of course people from traditionally underrepresented populations are triply encouraged to apply. All scholarship applications will be reviewed by a tiny panel of judges to determine this years recipient. 

Applications are being accepted for only a couple days! You have until January 27th, 5 pm EST.  So hurry up already!

SRNT will be held in Baltimore MD, Feb 25-27.

How to apply?  Send an email  telling us in a BRIEF Paragraph or so, why you are the best person to blog your heart out from SRNT, and the best person to give anyone interested in LGBT tobacco all the inside dope. Excessively long application emails will be read last. Please put BLOGGING SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION in your subject line.

January 25, 2010 Posted by | Scholarship Opportunity | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Action Alert- Attn Orgs! Sign on to Create an Office of LGBT Health

Action Alert from the National Coalition for LGBT Health

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering creating a dedicated Office of LGBT Health. This would be an incredible affirmation of the importance of LGBT health and would help keep LGBT health concerns high on the list of priorities for attention, funding, and programming.

HHS is expected to make this decision before Thanksgiving. Due to the tight timeline, we are asking groups and organizations to sign on to the letter below by not later than 1 PM EST tomorrow (Friday, 11/20).

If your group or organization would like to sign on, please email Kellan Baker Policy Associate at the National Coalition for LGBT Health. Please do not hesitate to contact Kellan with any questions.

Please join us in supporting an Office of LGBT Health and a healthier future for the LGBT community!

November 19, 2009

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary for Health
Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

The undersigned organizations are writing to you in support of the creation of an Office of LGBT Health to address the health disparities facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. An Office of LGBT Health at the highest level of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is critical to creating a lasting infrastructure that will allow for a focus the health concerns of the LGBT community. This office would take the lead in coordinating a consistent, scientifically driven, and substantive response across HHS to LGBT health disparities.

For LGBT people, systemic discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression has led to decades of obstructed access to health care and has significant negative impacts on the overall health of LGBT individuals. LGBT people suffer disproportionately from the adverse health effects of stigma, stress, and violence, further compounded by the barriers that prevent them from accessing vital health care services even for routine care: research has consistently shown that being LGBT substantially impacts whether or not a person receives care and, when they do receive care, whether that care effectively speaks to all aspects of their lives. Moreover, many members of the LGBT community are members of other communities that also face substantial health disparities and are thus vulnerable to cumulative negative outcomes. For example, an African-American gay man faces disparities common to the African-American community as well as those suffered by the LGBT community, and a transsexual Spanish-speaking woman, regardless of her sexual orientation, must navigate multiple instances of discrimination based on language, ethnicity, and gender.

These health and health care disparities are now recognized by numerous divisions of HHS, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Healthy People 2020 has also acknowledged the imperative to address the disparities in health status and health care access that impact the LGBT community. An autonomous Office of LGBT Health within HHS is a key step in coordinating and streamlining the agency’s efforts to address LGBT health disparities and would be a laudable demonstration of the agency’s commitment to the health and well-being of the LGBT community.

We look forward to your reply. If you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Rebecca Fox at the National Coalition for LGBT Health at (202) 436-0228 or Rebecca@lgbthealth.net.

Sincerely,

CC: Assistant Secretary Howard Koh

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Action Alerts | , , , | 15 Comments

   

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