DMT headshot2

Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate
National LGBT Health Awareness Week 2013



Remember how awesome Health Awareness Week was last year?! Well we have excellent news for you: It’s happening again! There is a lot to celebrate this year in the land of LGBT health!

Some LGBT health-related highlights this year…

CDC Reaches Out to LGBT People in Smoking Cessation Ads

NIH Issues Long-Awaited & Detailed Response to IOM LGBT Report

LGBT Communities & Tobacco Use Report Released

White House hosts Trans Day of Remembrance Meeting and Dr. Scout attends

“I AM: Trans People Speak” videos blow up the internet!


8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit held in Kansas City

Affordable Care Act upheld

Second Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual Health Summit of Puerto Rico is held

2012 LGBT Health Annual Report released

An awesome Trans Health webinar was held

Gay marriage made legal in 9 states

There are also lots of great awareness and education events happening this week around the country!

Once again, Out Queer Grads at UNM is rocking LGBT Health week with a health fair and performance festival! 421951_555437254476438_452370465_n

The University of California, San Francisco will be celebrating National LGBT Health Awareness Week on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 with an information table, free chair massages, blood pressure screenings, and a raffle to promote health and wellness!


If you’re hosting an events this week, please feel free to shoot us an email (lgbthealthequity@gmail.com), or post on our facebook page!

Chicago- Keeping Queers Healthy and Making Us Proud!

By Simone Koehlinger, Psy.D.
Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago
Chicago, IL
 “Not So Second City”

It’s important to keep us queers and our health needs on people’s radars.  I often brag about Chicago’s passionate community activists, dedicated providers, and our health department.  With one of the last offices of LGBT Health in the country, the Chicago Department of Public Health makes us proud.  Strong partnerships and governmental support are invaluable in making a dent in health inequities.

Another reason I am proud to be from the Windy City:  Last month, the health department unveiled a LGBT action plan.  This roadmap outlines 22 strategies to address the health and healthcare needs of the LGBT community.  As the first companion document to Healthy Chicago, the city’s public health agenda, this release puts queer health front and center.

How’s THAT for government saying our health matters?

Being a glass half-full kind of girl, I really like that the health agenda acknowledges our strengths as a community.   I’m also inspired by the plan’s shared responsibility — there is a role for all (community folks, medical providers, government officials, teaching institutions, etc.) to advance LGBT health.

Congratulations to all the organizations and people involved in creating this health blueprint.  And here’s to a collective rolling-up-of-our-sleeves to ensure its plans become a reality.

For more click here.

Conversations with Exhibitors.

Hector Martinez
Blogging Scholarship Winner
Reporting from Creating Change
January 2012
Baltimore, MD



The exhibition booths at the Creating Change Conference look great. I stopped by a couple of them to ask some questions. I asked Dave Reynolds,  Project Director from the Safe & Healthy LGBT Youth Project, what his plans are for creating change in 2012.  He would like to see the LGBT movement grow to rural areas of the US in the Midwest and the South. He travels to places like Alabama and Oklahoma. The LGBT movement is dramatically distinct from California and the East Coast. Our LGBT brothers and sisters from these rural areas are dealing with barriers such as empoyment discrimination and even face threats from the community. He went on to say that he would love to see the LGBT movement expand and grow in every state.

I also spoke to Tres Watson, Executive Director with Canvass for a Cause and he had two plans for 2012. The first is to double their efforts in California. Canvass for a Cause is dedicated to Queer politics sucha as marraige equality and voter engagement. His second plan is to see the scope of his work expand to rural areas and politically conservative that traditionally exclude Queer issues.

Opening Remarks By HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius At The National Coalition For LGBT Health’s Annual Meeting

Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
Reporting from the National Coalition for LGBT Health Annual Meeting 

I am currently in Washington DC for the National Coalition for LGBT Health’s Annual Meeting. There has been a an amazing line up of speakers today from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to the Administrator of SAMHSA Pamela Hyde along with many distinguished leaders in the LGBT Health Movement from across the country.

During the opening keynote address, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted “as a result of your work, today, we have a far better understanding that LGBT Americans face real and significant health disparities – another terrible consequence of discrimination, oppression, and social stigma.”  The tireless efforts of you all is really making a difference. Understanding the disparity leave opportunity to combat the issues our communities face with federal support.

President Obama directed HHS to follow up with additional recommendations for action along with concrete steps to improve the lives of LGBT Americans. This direct call for action showed that our current administration understands that there is not only a disparity, but an understanding that there is work to be done to address the issues our communities face. One major step was LGBT inclusion in the Affordable Care Act. Secretary Sebelius notes ”The Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities.” Many of you have been involved in this act, and we all understand that this has been a battle most have been fighting for, but the fight is not over.

Overall, doors are opening, work is being conducted, and the climate is changing for LGBT communities. Now more then ever we have a partner in the federal government.  The administrations commitment is remarkable, and we know there is still more to be done but the doors are open. Secretary Sebelius summed this up perfectly stating “I know most of you have been fighting these battles for a long time. And you may not have always had active partner in the federal government. But that is changing.“

We are in a much better place today then we were 10 years ago. And again we know there is still so much that needs to be done. Our work for LGBT inclusion is far from over, but in a better place as we move forward with our movement.

In closing, I want to leave you all with Secretary Sebelius closing remarks which sum up the essence of her speech.“We have begun to push open doors that seem to be shut forever. Looking ahead, the future gives me real hope. And I’m looking forward to working with you to make it as bright as possible”

Click here for a copy of Secretary Sebelius’ speech.

SAMHSA leading the way in LGBT inclusion

Liz Margolies
Director, National LGBT Cancer Network
Reporting from the National Coalition for LGBT Health Annual Meeting  

I am in Washington DC, at the National Coalition for LGBT Health’s annual meeting. I had the joy of listening to Pam Hyde, Administrator of SAMHSA this morning.  Pam  talk was poignant, as she spoke as both the head of SAMHSA and an out lesbian working in the field for over 30 years.  She began her talk today  pointing out that it is only in the last 2 yrs, in this administration for the first time, that she has been asked to speak about LGBT issues.   She referenced an earlier group that had formed many years ago to look at the LGBT population and she was not asked to participate in it. In fact, she wasn’t disturbed by that.  While she always kept a picture of her partner and their child on her desk, the old system was a quiet version of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  It was OK that she was a lesbian, but no one ever asked her about her family or her holiday plans.  She remembers when DADT was seen as progressive.  She was welcome as long as she kept quiet.

She gave a quick run down of LGBT health disparities in mental health and substance abuse and made very clear that these are a result of social conditions, the difficulties of growing up LGBT and the mental health difficulties that are the result of discrimination.

The bulk of her talk was about the great changes that are underway in SAMHSA incorporating LGBT population and mental health issues in multiple initiatives.  The work being undertaken in multiple diverse areas, including LGBT data collection, LGBT-owned businesses, new precedents in LGBT hiring, foster care, etc.

She stressed that the White House absolutely recognizes that there is still more to do.  She pointed out that SAMHSA RFA’s are becoming explicit about being LGBT-inclusive and, where appropriate, LGBT-focused. Which actually serves as a model for other gov’t agencies.

She concludes that the real impact of these initiatives is not just in changes in the laws and programs, but that effort put forth by Secty Sebelius and the White House are beyond acceptance of LGBT people.  She feels like LGBT people and issues are being welcomed and embraced, with the acknowledgement that there is still a lot to be done.

With that being said, despite these good intentions and commitments, she predicts that the budget is going to get far worse before it gets better. This means we have to advocate more, and keep our efforts on the forefront and keep the movement alive.  The positive results of the administrative commitments will be more apparent when the budget and economy Improves which gives us all hope for the future.

Affordable Care Act to Improve LGBT Data Collection, Stakeholders Call Tomorrow

By Gustavo Torrez

Program Manager, Network for LGBT Health Equity

The Network is pleased to report that Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29, 2011 There will be a Stakeholders Call where Garth Graham , Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Sherry Glied, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation will make an important announcement regarding how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to improve data standards and collection in LGBT communities. In an ongoing effort to help reduce health disparities, through the goals of the Affordable Care Act, tomorrow’s stakeholders call is sure to be another milestone in our efforts to further collect data on our communities. We encourage you all to please participate, and prepare questions you may have as there will be a brief questions and answer session following the announcement.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 1:30 pm ET/10:30 am PT
Call in number:  888-220-3088
Passcode: Health Care

Tomorrow’s Speakers:

Garth Graham,

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health

Sherry Glied,

Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

Kellan Baker,

Center for American Progress

As you may be aware, Dr. Scout announced huge gains last week in his blog post titled: Backstory, win, & work ahead: Secty Announces HHS Will collect LGBT Data.   His post outlines the history, and efforts which lead to tomorrows call. There is a lot of work that has been done and much more to come. Every step forward is progress, no matter how small, it’s a success. Lately, I feel we are making huge strides, and look forward to what the future  holds.

Backstory, win, & work ahead: Secty Announces HHS Will Collect LGBT Data

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA
**Wanna cut to the news? Skip down to Today’s News section**

Today's LGBT hero, HHS Secty K. Sebelius

Have we mentioned data yet?

Folk know how we’ve been part of the science advocacy block asking for LGBT data collection for years now. Way back in 2008 we first prepared our Surveillance Briefing Paper marshaling the evidence to help states and feds add LGBT measures to their surveys (that paper was developed at the request of West Virginia no less). Excerpts from that paper have been asked for by feds as recently as yesterday. Then we actually ran a big project to cognitively test possible T-inclusive surveillance questions at the behest of Minnesota (who balked at adding just LGB questions to their surveys, kudos them!).

Well since then, we’ve been bold in continuing to speak up and endlessly meet with federal officials from CDC to the White House and ask for data collection. We’ve prepared more briefing papers on the subject; created many talking point sheets for feds; submitted plenty of testimony; helped states add LGBT questions; announced when the National Center for Health Statistics started testing questions; set up meetings with their staff and community experts; advised HP2020 staff on data issues; ran a community petition with Join The Impact; helped plan and execute joint data advocacy efforts with the most excellent National Coalition for LGBT Health and New Beginnings Initiative; helped with a widespread community effort to add T questions to YRBS; co-hosted the recent Williams Institute Gender Identity Surveillance Roundtable; and ran plenty of action alerts telling folk when and how to speak up. (It still makes me chuckle to think of the time years ago when HHS called on Friday to request a LGBT data briefing paper for the White House by Monday. Weekend data geeks unite!)

You probably saw CDC just recently sent a letter in response to our action alert on data collection at Creating Change. Then just two weeks ago, we worked with National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to do something we haven’t even mentioned yet, create a health data cover letter for their 60k signature Queer the Census Petition and submit it all to Secty Sebelius. (Proud of that).

So, suffice it to say, data’s been on our mind for a while. And a few others too…

Who are some of the many leaders and allies in this push?

The National Coalition for LGBT Health has been an early and stalwart leader in pushing LGBT data collection (kudos to Rebecca Fox, Kellan Baker and Hutson Innes). NGLTF and the New Beginnings Initiative (yay Bradley Jacklin) have jumped in with strong focus on this issue (and inspired work around the Census, thank you Jaime Grant). Of course Gary Gates from The Williams Institute is happily everpresent in data discussions. Other excellent individuals and organizations have done great work here, including Judy Bradford and other scientists at our own Fenway Institute. The gaydata founder, Dr. Randy Sell, famously said he’d retire when the feds finally collected LGBT data (we’ll all have to visit him on whatever FL golfcourse he chooses). Special shout also to Allison Gill and GLSEN for starting the big community push that got a T question added to YRBS. And I would be remiss if I didn’t also give thanks to the efforts of the many non-LGBT internal allies at the state and federal level who have really gone to bat to add LGBT data (many of whom I bet would prefer to stay low profile). So have our five sister tobacco disparity networks, the 4 racial/ethnic disparity networks and the poverty network. In fact, overall, of special note are the many non-LGBT racial/ethnic disparity leaders who have really stepped up and helped advance this issue. The Network for LGBT Health Equity is honored to work with each and every one of you.

Why is data so important?

Why? I could give you plenty of reasons, but the most profound is back around 2002, when Dr. Rosie Henson, the then head of Office on Smoking and Health at CDC (now she’s all fancy and moved pretty far up the ladder), came to several of us at the first LGBT Tobacco Summit and said (something like) “Please come testify about how LGB* needs to stay in the tobacco section of Healthy People 2010, because without data from the major surveys you might be kicked out as a disparity population.” (*=T wasn’t in then).

Well, with plenty of evidence even back then that we smoke at rates that are from 35% – almost 200% higher than the general population, that plea really drove it home… there’s scientific evidence, then there’s scientific evidence the government will accept. And in order to get in the second group, you need to have LGBT data collected on major surveys.

The wins and the work still needed

There have been many tangible outcomes from all this work, in fact I should really go through and document them in detail. But some fast ones that come to mind are: we obviously stayed in HP2010, and with plenty of work with them, we got much bigger focus in HP2020; data collection was called for in CDC recent disparities report; in the National Partnership for Action Plan to Eliminate Disparities; in the Tobacco Action Plan; they even added LGBT measures to the National Tobacco Survey; and they started testing measures for inclusion in the National Health Interview survey last year. But while that’s all well and good, we still don’t have those measures on any other federal instruments.

Working with our friends & new(ish) media

Well, last week we jumped up our game a little more. With the help of our old friend (and staunch tobacco control advocate) Mike Rogers, we got to the LGBT Pre-Con to the big Netroots Nation conference (aka #NN11LGBT). This conference is all about creating social change through online action. As I reported earlier, it was great that we got to be in the room with a bunch of LGBT bloggers, esp when they asked, “what isn’t being covered?” Well, obviously we stood up and said, health, tobacco, and right now in health the data collection issue is hot. Well, it was great that by the end of that event, Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade said he’d be happy to do a story on data collection. Score! (I know, I know, next to marriage we’re practically overrun with stories about LGBT data collection, right?) But the wonderful news doesn’t stop there. Yesterday Chris, in a burst of amazing efficiency just stood up at the White House in front of Secty Sebelius and asked her (with quite a lot of intelligent detail), what she was doing about LGBT data collection.

Today’s win

This all gets us to our delightful denouement (or climax for us english speakers). When Chris asked that Sebelius went on record saying:

“We fully intend to collect LGBT data… So it is definitely a commitment.  We will be adding data questions to the National Health Surveys.” – HHS Secty. Kathleen Sebelius

Full stop. *please take a moment to breathe deep, savor the beauty of this, and thank the buckets of friends and allies who helped this happen*

On behalf of the Network for LGBT Health Equity and in fact, every single LGBT person who is affected by health, thank you Secretary Sebelius. You are the first of the many cabinet members being asked who has publicly committed to ending our invisibility, which is probably the largest single step that can be taken to ending discrimination against us.

Full stop, another deep breathe. Wonderful really.

Secretary Sebelius, we will assist you in every way possible to make this commitment a reality.

What will make it a touchdown?

Now, without one iota of disrespect to the magnitude of that step, we’d also like to say the following. You know the health and lives of the most discriminated against LGBT people literally hang in the balance as we wait for more federal efforts to eliminate our health disparities. So, we look forward to hearing the real plans for how and when this LGBT data collection will begin. 

And be sure to see the excellent Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson on this all.