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Substance Use Disparities Grew among Youth – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Substance Use Disparities Grew among Youth

Researchers found that between 2005 and 2017, illicit drug use overall declined among high schoolers – but that the declines were sharper for heterosexual and bisexual students than they were for gay and lesbian students. The result was that disparities had actually increased by 2017 for gay and lesbian students compared to their peers, a troubling fact despite the overall decline in use.

Protections Needed in Schools, Online

Human Rights Watch found that governments around the world need to take more action to stop bullying and violence in schools, as well as in online “spaces” used by students. They say that LGBT students as well as girls, refugees, and students with disabilities are the most common victims, and that school personnel are often part of the problem rather than solution.

Recruiting LGBT Youth for Research Studies

A study examined methods for reaching sexual minority young men and transgender youth on social media, and found that ads targeting those populations garnered better recruitment for a health survey than ads that did not. They also found that video-based versus photo-based ads helped with recruitment in some groups, and that their ads did better than a comparable, national campaign at getting Latinx and multiracial participants.

HIV Diagnoses Decline in U.K.

Attitude reported that HIV diagnoses among queer men in the U.K. dipped to just 1,700 in 2019 – the lowest number of new infections in that community since 2000. The total number of infections among all individuals fell 10% between 2018 and 2019. Officials say that frequent testing, access to PrEP, and quality treatment for those living with HIV are all needed to continue the trend.

Healthcare System and Black Queer Youth

Popsugar reported on how the healthcare system fails Black queer youth in unique and troubling ways. For example, they point to research from the Trevor Project finding that almost half of Black queer youth have wanted mental health services within the past year but have been unable to receive it. Black queer youth also require systems to address both a lack of LGBT knowledge and understanding, and and anti-racist policies and practices, to be able to adequately serve them.

Sexual Minority Republicans Feel Disconnected

The Advocate reported on new research finding that sexual minorities who identify as Republicans feel less connected to the LGBT community than do those who identify as Democrats. They also were more likely to report that they would prefer to be heterosexual and that their sexual minority identity was not an important part of who they are.

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Special Edition!! Coverage of CenterInk’s V-Summit – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Last month, LGBT HealthLink and our parent organization, CenterLink, hosted a “V-Summit” to bring together LGBT leaders from across the country. In this week’s special edition of the LGBT Wellness Roundup, we look back on some of the many fascinating sessions that involved LGBT health.

HIV Services During COVID-19

Dr. John Brooks of the CDC presented on “COVID-19: The State of the Pandemic and Implications for HIV Care and Prevention.” The pandemic has presented myriad challenges to providing HIV prevention and care services. For example, from January through May, lapses in PrEP use at Fenway Health in Boston increased 191% while new starts dropped by 72%, according to recent research; HIV and STI testing also dropped 85% during that time. The CDC has issued guidance to HIV care providers on how to continue services during the pandemic, such as by using telemedicine and at-home testing. Francisco Ruiz of the CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign encouraged LGBT service providers to continue sharing their many resources and social media tools to ensure LGBT folks do not let their guard down on HIV, despite the public’s heavy focus on COVID-19.

LGBT Puerto Ricans are Stronger than Crises

Dr. Wilfred Labiosa of Waves Ahead presented on “Adapting Mental Health and Ancillary Services in Times of Crisis.” Dr. Labiosa discussed the need to constantly adapt services amid crises the island has faced in recent years, ranging from hurricanes to political unrest to COVID-19. They have also been helping create vigils to recognize the murders of six transgender people in the island since January, as well as celebrations of their lives. Kiaranel Castro Lebrón discussed the organization’s Descubrete program, which includes coaching, training, and mental health services to LGBT older adults to become entrepreneurs and manage their own microbusiness. She discussed how helping people manage their mental health issues allows them to pursue economic opportunities that they might not otherwise have. Castro Lebrón also said that the pandemic has posed a major obstacle to the program’s participants in accessing services, as well as in continuing their businesses, especially given a lack of technological resources.

Bringing Research Home for LGBT Folks

Mahri Bahati of PRIDEnet presented on “Research and the Community: Listening Sessions with SGM People Across the Country.” She discussed research initiatives including the PRIDE Study, a nationwide long-term study following LGBT people to learn about their health, and the All of Us research program, a federal initiative that includes an LGBT component. She discussed the importance of researchers seeking out LGBT voices at all points in the research process, such as design and publication, and not just when looking to recruit participants. Bahati also discussed how often, LGBT people do not feel that research applies to them specifically, or do not see how policies or programs change as the result of research. More collaboration and communication with the community can address these issues and make LGBT folks feel invested.

Keeping Connected to LGBT Older Adults

The session “Senior Programming Before COVID, the Pivot and the Future” discussed how LGBT center programming for older adults has changed during the pandemic. Adrienne Percival of Compass discussed moving in-person events to virtual settings, while also keeping the center physically open by appointment and using phone trees for outreach to seniors who could not join virtual meetings. Britta Larson of the Center on Halsted discussed pairing volunteers with seniors to be able to have one-on-one conversations weekly, as many lacked social contact and needed someone to talk to. They also offered a pop-up pantry and events where seniors could take meals to go, as they were concerned with food insecurity among LGBT older adults being exacerbated by the pandemic. 

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Trans Policies and Mental Health – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Trans Policies and Mental Health

A new study found that in states with poor scores on transgender-inclusive policies, there was an association between minority stressors (like discrimination) and suicide attempt among transgender people. That relationship was not present in states that did better on trans equality, suggesting that a lack of protections, or laws that actively discriminate, may put trans lives at risk.

VA Not Collecting SOGI Data, But Open

The Advocate reported that the Veterans Administration healthcare system is not yet collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity of patients – meaning disparities are harder to identify and health needs may not be being met. The VA said it agrees with the importance of collecting such data, as the number of LGBT veterans grows following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (although the status of transgender service members remains complicated).

Social Media Could Educate LGBT Folks GLobally

A study of sexual minority men and trans women in Nairobi and Johannesburg found that 71% and 60%, respectively, used social media for socializing or finding sexual partners. While meeting online was thought to be safer in some ways than in-person, concerns remained about safety and privacy. Social media could be a largely untapped way to bring LGBT health information to people living in these African cities, researchers say. 

Pregnancy among Trans and Nonbinary Folks

Healthline reported on pregnancy among trans men and gender-nonconforming people with uteruses. The issue is often ignored, and providers often overstate the impact that hormone therapy will have on this population, who usually start menstruating again within months if they stop treatment. Research suggests high numbers of unplanned pregnancies among transgender men, likely due to this misinformation.

New Report Calls for Data

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine called for more data on LGBT health. Among the reasons for more data are the growth and shift in the population over the past decade, the lack of intersectional data on LGBT people of color, and the need for data that explores factors such as environmental and economic issues that impact health.

Pandemic’s Impact on Trans Health

The University of Delaware Review explored how the COVID-19 pandemic may be impacting transgender individuals, who already faced challenges accessing affirming providers before healthcare services became severely strained. Additionally, federal protections against discrimination for trans patients were recently rolled back, increasing fear in the community.

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Consenting to Gender-Affirming Care – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Complications Consenting to Gender-affirming Care

Researchers examined consent forms for youth to receive gender-affirming care and found that many had incomplete information to guide providers, youth,and guardians in the process. For example, only half of the forms noted the importance of shared decision-making between youth and guardians, and while all the forms discussed the risks of treatment, not all discussed the benefits.

PrEP Use Dropped in Australia

Australia’s ABC News reported that 42% of sexual minority men there who had been on PrEP prior to the COVID-19 pandemic had stopped taking it by April. Most men reporting doing so because they were having less sex, but researchers warn that as the pandemic (and related restrictions) evolve, there will be a need for many sexual minority men to consider returning to PrEP.

Bi Folks Miss Health Benefit of Education

Researchers found that heterosexual, gay, and lesbian adults all enjoyed better health if they had earned at least a bachelor’s degree compared to their peers who did not do so. However, the benefit was less pronounced for bisexual adults. The authors say discrimination facing bisexual individuals could help explain why they get less of a health boost from education.

HPV Vaccine Rates Increase

A study found that since 2011, there has been a six-fold increase in young sexual minority men reporting HPV vaccination; until that date, the vaccine was not recommended for males, despite sexual minority males being especially at risk. Now, about 33% of sexual minority aged 18-26 men not living with HIV, and 51% of sexual minority men aged 18-26 living with HIV, reported vaccination.

Texas Social Workers Can Discriminate

ABC News reported that Texas has voted to allow social workers to discriminate on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability, which had previously been prohibited. Advocates for LGBT individuals and people with disabilities say the move will make it harder for these groups to obtain services and more likely to face discrimination from service providers.

Traveling While Trans

Travel & Leisure shared the stories of two transgender travelers, how their identities impact their travel experiences, and the steps that they take to avoid uncomfortable or even unsafe situations. For example, one traveler recommends services like TSA PreCheck to minimize steps with airport security. They also rattle off their bucket lists for travel destinations. (Frankly, pretty much anywhere sounds good right now to us!)

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All of Us Helping to Unmask COVID – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Research Program Helping to Understand COVID

All of Us Research Program shared the work it is doing on COVID-19 and its impact on different communities. All of Us is a national medical research program that individuals can join to make medical research more inclusive of diverse populations, including LGBT folks. Their work around COVID includes blood testing for antibodies; surveying how things like housing and food security have been affected; and evaluating health records to understand how COVID impacts different people.

Cardiovascular Health an Issue for LGBT Adults

The American Heart Association published a statement calling for more research on LGBT cardiovascular health. They say that LGBT adults face many stressors, such as discrimination and problems accessing care, that could cause or exacerbate problems for heart health – but little research has been done. They also call for medical education to be made more inclusive.

Intersectional Issues Face Queer Latinx Youth

Popsugar reported on the mental health challenges facing LGBT Latinx youth. Recent research has found high rates of attempted self-harm in this group, with researchers crediting this to the intersectional discrimination faced by LGBT Latinx youth, especially those who are trans or nonbinary. Fears surrounding immigration issues for themselves or someone close to them was a major factor in suicide attempt risk.

Exploring LGBTQ+ History Month

Romper explored the backstory and purpose behind LGBTQ+ History Month, which is recognized in October after a history teacher in Missouri decided that students needed to learn more about the LGBT community’s experiences. Learning about their own community’s history is also a protective factor for LGBT youth that reduces the toll stress and discrimination takes on their health.

Applying HIV Stigma Lessons to COVID-19

UNAIDS published a new report that applies what advocates and researchers have learned about reducing HIV-related stigma to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency points to discrimination such as xenophobia that has played out during the pandemic, as well as the targeting of vulnerable populations – such as LGBT people – to explain the need for anti-stigma programming during this and future public health crises.

HIV among Queer Latinx Men

The CDC published new information about gay and bisexual Latinx men, including that they comprised 21% of new HIV cases in 2018 – a hugely disproportionate number given their size in the total population. Two in three of these cases were among queer Latinx men aged 13 to 34, indicating that the burden of HIV was particularly pronounced in Latinx youth and young adults.

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Is Sharing Caring with PrEP? #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Is Sharing Caring with PrEP?

POZ reported that about 10% of sexual minority men who take PrEP for HIV prevention share their medication with others, according to a 2018 survey – a concerning statistic given the importance of taking PrEP regularly and under medical supervision. The study also found that men in their 30s were much more likely to use PrEP than those in their 40s and above.

Sending Food and Love to LGBT Seniors

WMFE reported that The LGBT+ Center of Orlando is expanding its services for LGBT older adults thanks to a grant it received. The Center has been conducting phone outreach to older adults during the pandemic (which includes free mental health services from professionals) as well as working with the Salvation Army to send them boxes of food. Find an LGBT center near you using CenterLink’s interactive directory.

Sex Beyond Stereotypes

A study found that among sexual minority Latino men in New York, pleasure rather than masculine stereotypes or power dynamics played a more important role in determining one’s sexual positions or whether one participated in penetrative sex at all. The results could have implications for sexual health interventions, which rarely consider pleasure when seeking to change behavior.

Conversion Therapy’s Impact on Aging

A study of older sexual minority men found that 15% had experienced so-called conversion therapy at some point in their lives. Those who had experienced conversion therapy had 2-to-2.5 times the likelihood of having at least one psychosocial condition, compared to other men. Researchers say that experiences of conversion therapy could thus complicate healthy aging.

California Tackles Health Inequities

California announced that it has signed into law a package of new legislation aimed at addressing inequities facing LGBT individuals. One bill will increase data collection regarding LGBT health, while a second will ensure that transgender people are appropriately housed in prisons, and a third will establish a Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund.

Talk Covers Health Center’s History

Northwestern University hosted a talk by Dr. Kenneth Mayer on the evolution of Fenway Health’s model for delivering care to the LGBT community in Boston. The talk focused on how Fenway balanced its role as a healthcare provider for the community while also engaging in academic research.

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Queer Latinx Communities Impacted by Pandemic – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Queer Latinx Communities Impacted by Pandemic

HRC published new data finding that Latinx LGBT individuals were more likely than other LGBT or other Latinx folks to have lost work during the COVID-19 pandemic and to be struggling economically as a result. With 40% of Latinx LGBT folks facing cuts to their work, many reported having to change household budgets or even having difficulty making rent payments. 

Virtual Health Summit
LGBT HealthLink held its annual e-summit, which brings together leaders in LGBT health from around the world on a digital platform. The event falls within its parent organization CenterLink’s own virtual summit, which this year is replacing its typically in-person event for LGBT centers that happens each year. The summit kicked off on October 13th.

Unpacking Disordered Eating Behaviors

Researchers found that LGBT individuals experience higher rates of disordered eating behaviors and body image dissatisfaction than their peers. For example, 10.5% of transgender men and 8.1% of transgender women reported having been diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime, with body disastisfaction likely being a significant stressor for trans folks.

Stigma during COVID-19 Pandemic

A study from the Canadian government found widespread discrimination there during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gender-diverse individuals were three times as likely as men (and also significantly more likely than women) to have experienced discrimination, while racial and ethnic minorities and youth were also at higher risk of reporting different forms of discrimination.

Discriminatory Policy Blocks Organ Donors

NBC News explored the archaic rules that prohibits sexual minority men from donating organs – a similar but less well-known rule to that which restricts blood donations from gay individuals. While tens of thousands of individuals wait for organ donors to come available, advocates say that the prohibition on gay men is based on HIV-related stigma rather than science.

Uprooting Biphobia

In recognition of Bisexual Awareness Week, the Advocate published a guide on how to address biphobia in others and in yourself. Noting that bisexual folks face disparities even when compared to gay and lesbian peers, they offer tips like not assuming a gay or straight identity when someone shares the sex of their partner and taking someone at their word when they say they are attracted to multiple genders (versus assuming it’s a lie or a “phase”).

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Health News from Around the World – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak-Rincón bring you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Sexual Minority Canadians Face Assault

Out reported on new research finding that sexual minority Canadians were almost three times as likely as their heterosexual peers to report assault within the past year, in which 11% of sexual minorities self-reported assault compared to 4% of heterosexual individuals. Over the course of the lifetime, 59% of sexual minorities reported assault compared to 37% of others.

Who Needs Schooling?

YubaNet reported that the Texas State Board of Education had voted down proposals that proponents said would have taught youth basic understanding of and respect for LGBT peers, making schools safer places. Meanwhile, PinkNews reported on a study finding that four in ten U.K. adults would not want their young children to learn it is okay to be gay or lesbian.

Mississippi Clinic Makes History

The Hour reported on the opening of the first clinic in Mississippi tailoring to the transgender and nonbinary community. With an estimated 15,000 transgender people in the state, Mississippi had only one healthcare center offering horomone therapy at all, and many trans folks reported being turned away from providers for even routine care. Thanks to telehealth technology, the clinic is able to offer services statewide.

Ecuador Approves Health Rights for LGBT Folks

Human Rights Watch reported that after an eight year struggle, Ecuador’s National Assembly approved a bill that guarantees a universal right to health for all Ecuadorians – and specifically for women, adolescents, and LGBT individuals. The law includes a reinforcement of the ban on conversion therapy and also protects intersex children from unnecessary surgery.

Global Trans Org Set to Release Standards

Healio explored the mental health needs of transgender individuals, including some of the myths and vague beliefs that get in the way of care, such as that all mental health issues must be controlled before someone should seek gender-affirming surgery. The article also discusses the new Standards of Care from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which are due out soon.

Book Unites Queer Health Stories

Gay City News reported on the release of a new book, “Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health,” which features essays from more than two dozen LGBT activits from around the globe. The book’s editor, Adrian Shanker – who serves as the Executive Director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center – speaks in the article about COVID-19, health quality and equity, and more.

Find an LGBT community center near you using CenterLink’s interactive directory.

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SOGI Questions Need some Work – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak-Rincón bring you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

SOGI Questions Need some Work

Researchers explored what LGBT people think about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in medical forms and research. They found that typical questions they see were not as fluid and open as they wanted, limiting the inclusiveness of the data, and that multi-part questions assessing different aspects of identity were often confusing as to which part of identity (e.g. sex versus gender) they were asking.

Another Court Rules on Healthcare Protections

Health Affairs reported that another court has blocked a change in federal law that would remove healthcare discrimination protections for LGBT individuals. This is the third such decision, but this one went farther in also striking an expansion to religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws. The series of decisions follows the recent Supreme Court case that found existing employment nondiscrimination laws protected LGBT people.

Impact of Shelter Discrimination for Trans Folks

On the subject of nondiscrimination rights: the Center for American Progress studied the impact of a proposed federal government rule change that would remove equal access to homeless shelters for transgender individuals. They found that trans folks were more likely than cisgender peers to have a difficult or impossible time finding an alternative place to stay if a shelter turned them away. Trans people are also more likely than cisgender people to experience homelessness generally.

Sexual Minority Mental Health in Mexico

A study in Mexico found that compared to heterosexual university students with no same-sex attraction, sexual minority students (and heterosexual-identified students with some same-sex attraction) faced higher risks with respect to several behavioral health issues. Additionally, asexual students faced disparities for drug dependence. The study is one of few to look at LGB mental health in countries classified as developing.

Making Language Inclusive

USA Today reported on several changes made by Dictionary.com to make terms more inclusive. These include adding the terms “gender-inclusive” and “trans+,” as well as editing terms on sexuality. They also include many changes and additions for words relating to race and ethnicity – for example, capitalizing Black as it applies to race and adding gender-inclusive terms like Afro-Latinx.

Annual Healthcare Index Shows Progress

HRC published its annual Healthcare Equality Index and of the record 765 facilities who participated, 495 were named “leaders” while another 193 were named “top performers.” 92% of facilities met the staff training requirement that HRC sets, while only 53% have policies and procedures for welcoming and interacting with transgender patients, showing some issues are farther along than others.

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PrEP Works While You Vacation – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak-Rincón bring you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

PrEP Works While You Vacation

US News reported on a new option for using PrEP to prevent HIV infection: “vacation PrEP,” in which patients take the pill before, during, and after a trip. It might be a good fit for those who generally are lower-risk for HIV infection but who expect to be more sexually active during a vacation. Researchers say that not only is this usage effective, but in a study, it also led to many patients deciding to stick with PrEP long-term after trying it out.

Contraception Use Concerning among Bi Women

A study found that women who had any attraction to women were more likely to have used any contraception method than women attracted only to men. The bad news: bisexual-identified women aged 15-25 and women with both male and female partners aged 26-35 both had higher rates of low-efficacy methods of contraception, suggesting many bisexual women may be more at risk of unintended pregnancy despite having higher use of some type of contraception.

Creating a SOGI Nursing Toolkit

A study examined the creation of a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Nursing Toolkit to help fill knowledge gaps on LGBT patients. The toolkit includes a website, quiz to identify biases, lessons on cultural humility, and learning modules on priority topics. The process used to design the toolkit could be used to develop similar resources for other professionals, many of whom lack basic LGBT education.

Remote HIV Intervention Less Effective

Researchers studied the effectiveness of community health worker interventions for youth living with HIV and found that the service was less effective when conducted remote (at home) compared to when delivered at a clinic. Those who received clinic-based services had better viral load results after one year and also saw a decrease in alcohol use that those receiving home-based services did not.

Challenges for Homeless LGBT Youth

The Advocate reported on efforts to protect LGBT youth experiencing homelessness, as challenges persist despite progress made in many states to ban housing discrimination against LGBT folks. Mistreatment in shelters remains common (and protections from the federal government were recently erased), with many LGBT youth choosing to sleep on the streets rather than make use of the limited resources available.

New Season of Song Begins

WKBW reported on how the show has gone on for the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus – with proper public health measures in place. When told that they could only perform together with masks, social distancing, and top-notch ventilation, they took their performances online. Now, they’re holding rehearsals and auditions in parking lots so that they can keep their distance while still showing pride.