LGBT HealthLink: February Update of Activities and Strategic Action

  • Three staff members were hired: Nicole Sutton, Project Administrator; Julie Balter, Social Media and Project Specialist; Juan Carlos Vegas, Policy Manager.2015-03-02 10.42.14
  • We ran an audition for a new researcher consultant for the Huffington Post Wellness Roundup and hired Susana Fajardo.
  • Scout traveled to HealthLink’s homebase office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to conduct in-person training with new staff, with an in-depth focus on LGBT cancer-related issues. We also reviewed and revised the Year-Two Action Plan to steer the team on track for their individual roles and responsibilities within the project.
  • Scout, Daniella, and Julie attended the 2015 Creating Change Conference. HealthLink sponsored an information booth with resources to promote our work and create linkages with potential partners. One highlight of Creating Change: Equality Florida reached out to us to forge a partnership and testbed some of our community organizational best practices for wellness.
  • At the request of American Legacy Foundation, we’ve engaged in preliminary discussions with their organization about youth smoking.
  • Daniella presented at CADCA National Leadership Forum in Washington, DC. The topic of the presentation was LGBT Engagement in Coalition Building. This was an invited presentation and a great way to collaborate with our sister network (Geographic Health Equity Alliance).
  • Our Steering Committee chair, Corey Prachniak, presented at Equality Florida’s Town Hall Meeting on Feb. 10, This meeting highlighted our Healthcare Bill of Rights and the Out2Enroll deadline. Over 1,000 people attended. Their attendant press release generated two follow-up media interviews on radio with Dr. Scout and one mainstream-media newspaper story in The Sun Sentinel (which mentioned higher cancer rates):.
  • Scout and HealthLink’s other sibling networks planned the agenda and roles for their upcoming disparity data presentation on the Surveillance and Evaluation teleconference.
  • Our team attended a TA (Tech Assistant) and Partnership call with the TIPS 2015 Media Campaign staff. We reviewed the plan and advised how to identify and pinpoint effective media outlets for the 2015 launch.
  • Triangle Community Center in Norwalk, Connecticut, is continuing their data collection for needs assessment. They have extended their deadline into March, 2015. We are working closely with this organization to ensure the success of their efforts.
  • Our evaluators finished preliminary data runs for all five Michigan needs assessments (one statewide and for local sites). Approximately 450 slides of outcome data were delivered to the sites for review.
  • We posted a transcript of the speech Scout presented to the LGBT Health Funders Summit in January on our blog: Building a Culture of Health in the LGBT Communities.
  • We are currently planning for the following upcoming trainings/trips:
    • March 7 – Although we are unable to attend an Iowa LGBT health event, we are sending resources and slides.
    • March 13 to 16 – Trip to Philly for meeting with WayGay Center ED and Haas LGBT Media Convening.
    • March 18th – Indiana Department of Health and respective partners. The DOH’s goal is to increase their tobacco report card letter grade from C to and A. We will also meet with their cancer-representative team.
    • April 14-15 – Florida-based HealthLink site visit by CDC project officers.
    • April 20-22 – West Virginia visit to present to a variety of audiences.
    • May 4-5 – Maine Department of Health Tobacco Control Conference
    • May 8-9 – Puerto Rico for last Best and Promising Practices in Cancer meeting. (planning is underway for the full meeting). This is the second meeting of this group and will be the last step before we can finalize the new Best Practices document.

      February HealthLink blogs (all titles are links):

February Huffington Post LGBT Wellness Roundups:

LGBT Wellness Roundup Feb. 10GBT and Post-Cancer Distress

Out2Enroll: Deadline Draws Near!
• Truth About Transgender Children and Gender Identification
• E-Cigarettes: Socially Contagious for LGBT Population
• White House Bumps Up Budget for LGBT Health Spending

LGBT Wellness Roundup Feb. 15

  • Coming Out Early Pays Off Later
  • Promoting LGBT Rights Globally
  • Black Gay Men and HIV: Staggering Statistics
  • Cervical Cancer Risks for Lesbians
  • Pride High! New LGBT School

LGBT Wellness Roundup Feb. 21

  • Gay Dating Apps: An Appeal for HIV Awareness
  • Trauma for Trans Inmates in Immigration Jails
  • Next LGBT Battleground? Healthcare!
  • Medical Students Flunk LGBT 101
  • The Garden State Sows Access to LGBT Healthcare

LGBT Wellness Roundup: Feb. 27

  • Bisexuals stand out
  • LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights
  • CDC reports 9 of 10 new infections arise from untreated HIV
  • Feds extend 2 major new protections to LGBT persons
  • Report finds link between LGBT rights & quality of life
  • Is teen suicide socially contagious?
  • Sexy senior health campaign





December Updates

December 2014 Update

LGBT HealthLink

  • HealthLink launched the first ever LGBT State tobacco inclusion report cards! Check out the report cards and methodology here: http://www.lgbthealthlink.org/Report-Cards/2014fined
    • The launch was covered in the Windy City Times and the HRC blog
    • Since the launch, we have spoken with reps from multiple states about how to collaborate in the future, and improve their state’s grade
  • Scout flew out to two different events this month. First was the gathering of LGBT community centers in Michigan and the Dept of Health representatives to review the preliminary findings for their statewide needs assessment. One of the very interesting points from those data was that even the LGBT smokers who wanted to quit didn’t think to use the quitline. Clearly more education is needed.
  • Next, Scout went to Milwaukee to be a speaker at the presentation of their citywide readiness assessment on tobacco control work, and to facilitate their action planning the following day. This is the first time a city started by doing a readiness assessment, ultimately they found that the local community was not ready to embark on tobacco control work, again, more education is needed in order to move the community further in the readiness model. In addition to DOH reps, Scout met with state HIV reps, and folks from two local community centers.
  • Health Care Bill of Rights got more media coverage, with a piece in the South Florida Gay News, as well as the HRC blog (The HRC also joined as a partner this month!)
  • Daniella worked with The Triangle Community Center in Norwalk, CT on a plan to do a Needs Assessment in early 2015. They submitted an outreach plan for review in December and are working toward a January launch.
  • We announced two open positions- Policy Specialist and Social Media/ Project Specialist. We have received many CV’s, and are currently reviewing eleven applicants for the policy position and seven applicants for the project support position.


December blogs (all titles are links):


December Huffington Post LGBT Wellness Roundups:

LGBT Wellness Roundup Dec. 19

LGBT Wellness Roundup Dec. 12

LGBT Wellness Roundup Dec. 5


October 2014 Update

LGBT HealthLink


  • HealthLink hosted twowebinars to encourage LGBT inclusion in state tobacco proposals to CDC: one for Community Centers, titled “Coaching Your State – How To Include LGBT In Their 5 yr Tobacco Proposal”, and one for states about how to collaborate with and include local LGBT groups in their RFA’s. Reps from 37 states attended the statewebinar, and 25 people attended the Community Centerwebinar. As followup:
    • We attended a meeting between Pennsylvania’s five community centers and the department of health reps. After advice at that meeting, the DOH has put aside money for local funding next year.!
    • We’ve also worked with FL department of health reps to brainstorm several LGBT integration steps, including doing a statewide LGBT needs assessment next year.


  • We are collaborating with National Jewish quitline and North American Quitline Consortium to test an enhanced LGBT measure (based on feedback from quitline counselors who’ve administered the current one 100k times). We have approval from 5 states to live test the enhanced question and will be doing a webinar with all quitline reps in November.


  • Scout presented grand rounds at RI Department of Health. There were 35 attendees. He spoke on LGBT tobacco disparities.


  • Our Needs Assessment work continued with Arkansas and the four original Michigan sites completing their data collection, and a fifth Michigan site (Kalamazoo) beginning collection. Additionally, staff started working with Missouri (The GLO Center of the Ozarks) to get them started on Needs Assessment outreach plans. We are working to analyze the first data and create the initial reports now.


  • Technical assistance with PROMO Fund in Missouri has resulted in them moving from 37th in the country on the Healthcare Equality Index to 6th. See our Huffington Post story on it below to both showcase the success & see details of how to bring this success to your state.


  • We are preparing for rollout of our first-ever state LGBT tobacco report cards. We sent the draft report cards to state tobacco program representatives for their feedback. Finalized grades for all states will go public in November.


  • Our other major project is release of the new LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights. The draft website was completed and we expect this to launch November 15. Check the website out at: http://healthcarebillofrights.org Do you want to get custom branded materials for your organization? Then please contact us to be a partner: HealthLink@lgbtcenters.org.


  • Our social media this month had an aggregate reach of 12,311 people on Facebook with 1222 clicks and 490 likes, shares and comments. Twitter got 115 retweets, 119 mentions, 59,767 impressions and 159 favorites this month.



October Blogs: (all titles are links)









October Huffington Post LGBT Wellness Roundups:



LGBT Policy · Show Me MO · Technical Assistance · Updates

Missouri Case Study 10 – Making LGBT Health Matter in Missouri Hospitals

Andrew Shaughnessy, Manager of Public Policy for PROMO

Andrew Shaughnessy
Manager of Public Policy, PROMO Missouri

This year has proven to be a monumental year for LGBT Missourians. Those monumental steps have been the recognition of out-of-state marriages by the State of Missouri, and the leadership of nearly 47 Missouri hospitals, who have included 105 new LGBT welcoming policies to their core values. As an LGBT Missourian it certainly gives me relief to know that I can access health care facilities and be me: my authentic self.

In 2013, only two Missouri Hospitals, Children’s Mercy in Kansas City and the VA in St. Louis, qualified as leaders in the Human Rights Campaign Care Equality Index (HEI). In the coming days the health sector will see the launch of the 2014 HEI, where several of Missouri’s top hospitals have been reviewed on their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) welcoming policies.  This year, Missouri will see several hospitals both in rural and urban areas that have been working to ensure their facilities are welcoming to all.

To learn more about the policies of Missouri Hospitals, click here for a map detailing their LGBT welcoming policies.

We have truly made LGBT health matter among Missouri’s top hospitals, but the work of the LGBT health policy project does not stop there. Through the technical assistance of Dr. Scout, Director of LGBT HealthLink, we will continue to work with health and social services organizations in Missouri to ensure that we are creating spaces free from discrimination. Through our collaboration with Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director of SAGE Metro St. Louis, we will be training Missouri’s health and social service professionals to understand the unique needs of LGBT patients.  And we will continue to advocate for the health of LGBT families and our families of choice.

As we begin to look at the legal future for the LGBT community, we must be concerned with the growing disparities we find in LGBT health. Our next frontier is on the borders of health and making sure that we are a strong and healthy community. I’m humbled to be a part of this work. Having experienced discrimination in a health care setting myself, I assure you your voice is not going unheard.



Yet another life lost to smoking

We are deeply saddened to report that Bill Busse, a Tips From Former Smokers ad participant, has passed away. The cause of death was heart disease, which is very common for smokers. Bill shared his story on the Tips From Former Smokers Campaign about the affects that smoking had on his health (made more severe by diabetes, which he had since childhood).

The CDC released a statement from Tim McAfee, Director, CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health on the passing of Bill Busse. The CDC asks that you please direct any questions and/or condolences to TobaccoMediaCampaign@cdc.gov. The CDC will make sure that your correspondence is forwarded to Bill’s family.

Bill’s health problems didn’t stop him from heroically coming forward towarn other smokers of some of the dangers they faced if they don’t quit smoking.  Nor did his health problems stop Bill from enjoying time with his kids.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bill’s wife, two children and two step-children, as well as his parents and his sister.

A tip for smokers, from the man himself; “Make a list and put the people you love at the top, put down your eyes your legs your kidneys and your heart, now cross off all the things you’re okay with losing, because you’d rather smoke.”

You can view Bill Busse’s videos here.

Conferences · Cultural Competency Trainings · Data · Funding · IOM · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Research Studies · Resources · scholarship · Updates

#BWLGBTI Day 3 Part 2: Community-based research is still important




Dwayne Steward

LGBTQ Health Advocate
Columbus Public Health



We’ve come to the end of the LGBTI Health Research Conference at Baldwin Wallace University. This has been a very life-changing experience, for which I am truly grateful. Being in the room with so many experts that have and are currently making groundbreaking changes in the country, and around the world, regarding the inclusion of LGBTI communities in health research has been phenomenal. I can’t thank the Network for LGBT Health Equity enough for this amazing opportunity.

Jacob Nash
Jacob Nash

The conference began it’s last half with two lively panel discussions. The first was “Community Perspectives Regarding LGBTI Health” featuring Jacob Nash (transgender activist and director of Margie’s Hope), Alana Jochum (Equality Ohio’s Northeast Ohio Regional Coordinator) and Maya Simek (program director for The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland). Jochum made some very interesting points regarding how LGBTI health research has made historic advances in LGBTI rights possible. She referenced several court cases that have used the statistics compiled by researchers, several in the room, in major courtroom arguments for marriage equality. Her examples helped further illustrate the need for the work of those attending the conference. Nash and Simek put out calls to researchers for more specified research studies on marginalized populations and offered insights on the health issues they’re seeing among marginalized populations. They both reiterated the need for more collaboration between activists and health researchers.

The conference officially ended with “LGBTI Health and Human Rights in International Settings” with a very dynamic panel of LGBTI health community organizers from Latin America and India.

“LGBTI Health and Human Rights in International Settings” Panel

Wendy Castillo, a community organizer from El Salvador who has done work providing safe spaces for lesbian and transgender women, spoke at length about the tragic murders that continue take the lives of transgender women regularly in El Salvodor and the struggles organizations there face with trying to keep transgender women safe. Daniel Armando Calderon and Alejandro Rodriguez, both community organizers around issues facing the MSM community in Columbia, discussed how they try to decrease barriers for “heterosexual MSM’ and other special populations needing HIV care and other health services.

Vivek Anand, of Humsafar Trust, closed out the conference with more detail regarding his efforts regarding the recent re-criminalization of homosexuality in India. His organization has courageously come to the forefront of attacking this law that was passed by the country’s Supreme Court after massive efforts from religious leaders. I thinks it quite admirable that the work he’s doing is heralding and sometimes dangerous, but he faces it head on with an upbeat attitude. He ended his presentation with a video of Gaysi‘s (an LGBT advocacy organization in Mumbai) #notgoingback campaign, one of the efforts to build awareness and garner support for repealing the law. The upbeat video, featuring Pharrell Williams’ massive hit song “Happy,” is a perfect representation of Anand’s bubbly activist spirit.

And thus we end our time together my friends. Please always remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King that I used to start this blog series, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Let’s never end this very important conversation!

Conferences · Cultural Competency Trainings · Data · IOM · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Resources · scholarship · Updates

#BWLGBTI Day 3 Part 1: The IOM Report



 Dwayne Steward

 LGBTQ Health Advocate
 Columbus Public Health




Back at Baldwin Wallace for the last day of the LGBTI Health Research Conference and the morning is being spent on very detailed analysis of the Institute of Medicine‘s National Institutes of Health-commissioned 2011 report “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding” The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.”


Dr. Walter Bockting, of Columbia University who served on a committee that penned the report, returned to the stage to offer a brief history of the document, it’s findings/recommendations and next steps. Most striking was that the main point made by the study, which is there’s a general lack of research when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity, a fact many of us are very much aware of, but I think the impact of this report is in the robust list of recommendations the study produced for NIH. Here are few:

  • NIH needs to implement a comprehensive research agenda.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity data needs to be collected in all NIH federally-funded research.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity data also needs to be collected in electronic medical records.
  • Research training should be created by NIH that is specific to sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Encourage NIH grant applicants to address the inclusion or exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity. (This is already a requirement for other marginalized groups, such as racial minorities.)
  • Identify sexual orientation and gender identity among the NIH official list of minority populations with disproportionate health disparities.

Dr. Bockting himself said at one point what I’ve been thinking since I read the study months ago, “A year ago I was skeptical about if we would receive the support needed to see these recommendations through. Without support it will be very difficult for us to make any progress.” However he went on to say, “But things are really beginning to look up and I think we’re going to begin making some strides.”

(From left) Dr. Alexander, Dr. Bradford and Dr. Bockting

Dr. Bockting’s statements were overwhelming verified later by Dr. Rashada Alexander, a Health Science Policy Analyst at NIH. She discussed how NIH was responding to the IOM report, most notably the creation of the NIH LGBTI Research Coordinating Committee whose task is to create a national strategic plan for sexual orientation and gender identity research. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that this group existed and will be releasing their strategic plan by the end of the year. She also went on to discuss a funding opportunity announcement NIH has released specific to LGBTI health research and and other efforts of the NIH regarding LGBTI health.

It’s very empowering to know that our federal government is taking an intentional approach to studying LGBTI health, especially when this was something that wasn’t possible just five years ago.  I feel as if I’m watching systemic change take place right before my eyes. It’s a very exciting time to be an LGBTI health researcher!

Monthly Updates · Staff/Program Updates · Updates · webinar

Network training update- National Jewish Quitline!

HealthEquity Logo
     Network Training Update
     National Jewish Quitline




Last week, Dr. Scout flew to Colorado to do trainings at the National Jewish Hospital, home of one of the country’s largest quitlines.

Dr. Scout’s training, titled  “The LGBT Population and Tobacco Use: Creating an LGBT Friendly & Inclusive Environment”, discussed smoking disparities in LGBT populations, how to improve cultural competence and inclusion, data collection, and strategies for targeting LGBT communities.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 9.54.52 AM

LGBT Quitline Strategies:

  • Before they call
  • Understanding access barriers
  • Enhancing welcome at your organization
  • Once they call – creating welcoming environment
  • After they call – extra materials

Evidence of LGBT Avoidance of Quitlines:

“In a rare study in Colorado that looked at intentions of smokers to use quitlines, LGBT people who smoked and wanted to quit were 5x less likely than others to call a quit line.”

The Lessons:

  • While LGBT callers are very likely to experience stressors and triggers related to LGBT status…
  • they are very unlikely to presume the quitline is a welcoming environment to discuss these issues.
  • And hiding their LGBT status can adversely affect treatment.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 9.55.40 AM

Conferences · Philly Trans health conference · Pride · Staff/Program Updates · Updates

Welcome to our new guest blogger, reporting from Philly Trans Health Conference

We are so excited to introduce Bishop S.F. Makalani-MaHee as our newest guest blogger! Bishop S.F. will be blogging from the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, so stay tuned!

Bishop S.F. Makalani-MaHee is a Minister/Performing Artist/Community Organizer, and is also the Founder/Chair for Black Gay Pride South Florida. Bishop is currently enjoying devolving his solo show “Bustin’ Hell Wide Open” in which he explores his experiences growing up in the Pentecostal Black Church and the projects of the Bronx and coming out as same gender loving in those environments; and now living as a transgender man.  He makes his home in the South Florida area.

Follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/TheBishopTweets

Camp Shot of SF


Data · Puerto Rico · Resources · Steering Committee · Summit · Technical Assistance · Tobacco Policy · Updates

Benson & Hedges Targets LGBTT Communities in Puerto Rico

Juan Carlos Photo


Juan Carlos Vega, MLS

Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico, National Latino Alliance Pro Health Equity and the Network for LGBT Health Equity



This is bad! As health professionals, community prevention programs, and the Puerto Rico Department of Health strive to reduce tobacco use prevalence among island inhabitants, we have busted Benson & Hedges, twice, targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transexual (LGBTT) communities in San Juan area’s LGBTT clubs. Cute girls, in tight outfits, look to scan your driver’s license in order to continue to help folks initiate or facilitate access to low price cigarettes. If you fill out the survey that they present at these bars and allow them to scan your id, you can purchase a pack of Benson & Hedges from the bar at a huge discount. No wonder LGBTT smoking prevalence is two to three times higher than that of the general population.

Health Authorities Warn: Smoking Kills
Health Authorities Warn: Smoking Kills

Twice, I have been with gay guys who are trying to quit smoking for health and financial reasons and they have been accosted by such tobacco industry tactics. One time, we bought the cigarettes, the second time we resisted. Yes, I was included. After nine years of being smoke free, I have become an occasional social smoker for the past 3-4 years. It is so nasty, the smoke inhalation, the after taste, yet, after a few drinks, I see myself taking a “hit” or two from my friends’ cigarettes. I don’t blame the industry for my personal unhealthy choices, but they sure don’t help us quit for good!  Access to cheap smokes at bars should not be allowed! 

Last weekend, was the second consecutive month, we have seen this predatory practice in our local LGBTT bars. It was contrasting to see as we were distributing promotional flyers for the  3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico, April 4th and 5th at the School of Nursing of the Medical Science Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, free of cost for the general public and $45.00 fee for Continuing Education for Physicians and Nurses. Against the luring of the tobacco industry to get us to smoke again, the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Healthefforts continue to fight the dangers of tobacco use with the support ofLegacy Foundation, the Network for LGBT Health Equity, theComprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Puerto Rico, and the local tobacco free coalition. For more information, on how tobacco affects the health of LGBTT communities, come to the 3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico: Tendencies Towards Health EquityApril 4th and 5th in San Juan. Come by, our Summit is cheaper than the pack of cigarettes sold those nights and you will get great information, make new friends and learn how to take better care of yourselves!

spanish tobacco
Juan Carlos Vega shows a tobacco cessation material in Spanish “Tobacco is a murderer that does not discriminate”