Program Associate, reporting on Creating Change 2011
We all know at this point that it’s important to continue the energy and discussions from conferences to really create progress on important LGBT issues. For that reason, I wanted to point out a theme that supports the great work of the Network. In CC 2011, there was greater of emphasis on health at Creating Change this year than in other years. As evidenced by the many health workshops (for instance) reported by former Program Associate Sasha Kaufmann discussing legislation to protect PLWHIV and Megan Lee reporting on a fantastic program called Project H-E-A-L-T-H to our CC Action Alert on national LGBT data collection to the mention of LGBT benefit from healthcare reform in the State of the Movement address.
Significant Health Theme
You may recall from memory/comparison of the last two conferences, or you can check out our blog entries from past Creating Changes, that 2011 Creating Change had a much larger focus on LGBTQ health than CC 2010. Staff and guest bloggers highlight this theme in their blogs. For instance guest blogging scholar Dean Andersen’s posts discuss needs for individual and national LGBT health promotion.
Given that our Network’s focus is on health and tobacco, we were very pleased that health was a main focus of CC 2011. That fact could not be any more apparent than from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce’s Executive Director, Rea Carey’s “State of the Movement” speech when she said:
“Healthcare reform will change the lives of more LGBT people than any single piece of legislation we’ve been working on all year.”
How health, policy and research intersect and why that matters
Not only does Rea’s quote emphasize that the most meaningful advancement for LGBT people has been health legislation (which may be surprising and enlightening for many folks to hear), but it speaks to how issues of public policy, LGBT advocacy and health intertwine. The fact that these issues are so connected is common sense in achieving our needs, but also shows the Network is really on the forefront for tackling LGBT inequality as we focus on LGBT data collection/inclusion and health through a social justice lens. For more on what’s being done on the national level around these issues Scout’s blog entry on the workshop provides a wonderful synthesized list from Obama’s appointees speaking directly to these issues. Rea Carey, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
To echo the theme of healthcare, at this plenary session, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force/National Center for Transgender Equality report Injustice at Every Turn was distributed to all. As you may know, that was the largest national trans study which I discussed in a previous post which discussed health components at greater length due to our support (i.e. tobacco and alcohol use).
What About Tobacco?
Unfortunately, the issue of LGBT tobacco control was quiet this year apart from our own advocacy. As mentioned, in NCTE’s Mara Keisling’s presention of their joint survey, the Network was praised for our support in including tobacco within the questionnaire. In addition, I am chairing a committee with the National Youth Advocacy Coalition called Youth Kicks, which I discussed in my first CC post as a committee to address LGBT tobacco harm reduction through national media campaign.
Despite quietness on tobacco, it’s important to see how LGBT health overlaps with issues such as tobacco, for instance in terms of data. There was workshop after workshop after workshop about the need to include LGBT people in national data collection at several levels. The reason for this? We all know LGBT people experience disparities, but it’s harder to prove without numbers which is why our activity at Creating Change was to call on the CDC to include LGBT people in national surveys since we are often tabled on general health disparity conversations and have harder case in proving needs for funding without numbers.
Fortunately, it’s becoming much easier to discuss LGBT tobacco issues than ever before with the interconnectedness of policy, health, research and advocacy, so this conference revealed how the time is right to do some great work on these issues.