LGBTQ Youth: It’s Time For Birds And Birds, AND Bees And Bees

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 seven days. For more LGBTQ Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.


Sex Ed Advances to Include Queer Youth

The Atlantic reported on the trend in some states on making sex education more inclusive of LGBT youth, which has long been a deficit credited with contributing to disparities. Earlier this month, the Massachusetts senate passed a bill requiring school districts that have sex ed to be more inclusive of LGBT content, for example. Still, most states do not have such laws.

TWOCConcerning New Data on Trans Women of Color

A new study examined homicide rates among transgender individuals. While exact figures are hard to calculate due to potential underreporting and the unknown total number of transgender people, transfeminine Black and Latina individuals seemed to have significantly higher rates than did cisgender folks, suggesting a strong intersection between gender identity and race.

Bill Introduced to Improve Queer Data

The Wisconsin Gazette reported that Senator Tammy Baldwin is leading the charge in the Senate on a bill that would require federal data collection to include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity, which may unmask and explain health disparities. Baldwin, the first openly gay member of the Senate, was joined by colleagues who introduced the bill in the House.

Only 27% Protected from Conversion Therapy

Movement Advancement Project updated a report on “conversion therapy” to reflect that Rhode Island just banned the practice that proports to convert LGBT people to heterosexuality or a cisgender identity. While the Ocean State is just one of several that has recently taken the step, only 27% of the LGBT population nationwide lives in a state with such protections.

Teen Smoking Declines – With a Catch Young Lez

The Washington Post reported on promising data that shows teen smoking on the decline over the past few decades, thanks largely to better regulation, they said. However, they cautioned that groups such as LGBT youth are still disproportionately using tobacco, and that the FDA has recently delayed enforcement of important regulations on e-cigarettes and cigars.

Rethinking How We Talk About Disparities

Researchers published an article suggesting that public health campaigns may want to think twice before emphasizing LGBT disparities. Such emphasis can backfire by making the unsafe or unhealthy behavior seem normal among members of the community, and increase stigma against the community by others. Research also showed such messages may not be believable.


#LGBTWellness Reports On Alcohol Use Higher In Bi Youth

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 seven days. For more LGBTQ Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.

Bisexual Youth and Drinking BiYouth

A study found that high school students who identified as bisexual or had partners of multiple sexes were up to twice as likely as heterosexual students to engage in alcohol use according to a number of behavioral markers. These disparities exceeded those of gay and lesbian students, and results also varied by gender, suggesting heterogeneity among queer youth and alcohol use.

New Info on LGB Adults 50-Plus

A new study examined data on LGB adults ages 50-plus and found many health disparities. Sexual minority women were more likely than other women to have arthritis, health attacks, strokes, and more, while sexual minority men were more likely than heterosexual men to have cancer. The study suggests that targeted interventions are needed to address such disparities.

Smoking Infographic 07262017

Reducing the LGBT Smoking Rate

Researchers published an article on how to reduce the disparate smoking rate among LGBT individuals, who smoke at more than a 50 percent higher rate than do others. They suggested better inclusion of LGBT data in public health surveys, more targeted anti-tobacco campaigns, and better regulation of menthol-flavored tobacco products as among the strategies that may help.

Updates from the Hill

ThinkProgress reported that Congress rejected a law that would have banned funding for gender-affirming care for America’s service members and their dependents. Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress weighed in on potential healthcare legislation in the Senate and how it might impact LGBT people, warning that queer folks are underinsured and have higher health needs.

Promiscuity Perceptions and Support for Gay Rights

Researchers tested different versions of an article on gay men – one that reaffirmed stereotypes on promiscuity and one that refuted them – and found that heterosexual individuals’ perception of gay promiscuity related to their support for gay rights in some cases. This may mean that support for LGBT rights can be increased as stereotypes are challenged, the research team said.

Wave of “Conversion Therapy” Bans Continues ConversionTherapy

The Atlantic reported that there is continued momentum among states in banning “conversion therapy,” a practice overwhelmingly rejected by experts that purports to make queer individuals become heterosexual. Rhode Island recently became the fourth state this year to ban the practice, and in states where bans have not been implemented, some towns and cities are taking action.

Update: Allentown Council passes ban on gay conversion therapy for minors


This Week’s LGBT Wellness is “Jazz-ed” Up!

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 seven days. For more LGBTQ Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.

Jazz Jennings Has Something to Say

LGBT HealthLink interviewed teen superstar Jazz Jennings on how she got involved with Truth Initiative’s anti-tobacco campaign for LGBT youth. Jennings said that lack of support from family and others, as well as targeted marketing from Big Tobacco, might explain why LGBT youth are nearly twice as likely to use tobacco products as their peers. Way to go, Jazz!

CDC Campaign Increased HIV Testing for Black Men TMUS

A study evaluated the CDC’s Testing Makes Us Stronger campaign, which promoted HIV testing among Black men who have sex with men (MSM), and found that 43.2% of study participants had been exposed to the campaign, many at pride events or in a doctor’s office. Those who had seen the campaign had a 38% higher probability of having been tested within six months.

Simulation Trains Residents on Trans Health

Researchers developed a simulation for medical residents in which they treated a “patient” played by a transgender actress. Only 61% directly asked about gender identity, and an equal number made the patient feel comfortable. However, overall communication skills were better, suggesting good communication could bridge doctors’ knowledge gaps on transgender health.

Ageing With PrideQueer Older Adults of Color Growing Rapidly

NBC News reported that people of color currently comprise 20% of the LGBT older adult population (which includes 1.1 million people over the age of 65), but that that number will likely double in the next three decades. These individuals face intersectional discrimination and disparities, and have complex socioeconomic and health needs as a result.

How the SDGs Can Include LGBT

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV, along with OutRight Action International, launched a new report on how the needs of LGBT folks must be considered as the UN and countries worldwide implement the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Their recommendations included ending discrimination, collecting and using LGBT-specific data, and training providers on LGBT health.

Lab Test

Addressing Transgender Needs in Labs

Researchers published a review of how laboratories can contribute to quality care for transgender patients. While labs often need to know the sex recorded at birth of their patients, understanding gender identity and a patient’s medical transition is also important. Researchers also identified barriers to quality, inclusive care in both patient-facing and interior aspects of labs.


Weekly LGBT Wellness Asks: Are You No. 1?

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 seven days. For more LGBTQ Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.

HIV Testing 2What 1 in 7 Don’t Know

The CDC marked National HIV Testing Day on June 27, reporting that one in seven people living with HIV in the U.S. is not aware of their status – thus preventing them from getting connected to treatment. They also shared resources like a testing center locator, key facts, and sample social media posts for those looking to spread the word on HIV prevention.


Cervical Cancer Screening for Trans Folks

A study found that most trans-masculine individuals – who may be at risk for cervical cancer but who often feel excluded from being screened for it – overwhelmingly prefer a frontal HPV swab to a Pap test. Over 90% said this was their preference, finding it had benefits like being less invasive, although some expressed concerns about things like the alternative test’s accuracy.


LGBT Youth Disproportionately IncarceratedYouth Jail

Movement Advancement Project published a report on incarcerated LGBT youth, who represent 20% of all people in the juvenile justice system despite being less than 10% of the overall U.S. population. Among those queer youth in the justice system, 85% were youth of color, and young queer women were also disproportionately impacted, making the issue an intersectional one.


What We Know About Eating Disorders

Researchers conducted a review of available studies on eating disorders and related problems in queer populations, and found that much of the research from the past six years shows sexual minorities to be more at risk, especially sexual minority men. While these disparities have been relatively well-documented, few have looked at how to treat and prevent eating disorders in LGBT people.


Journal Delves into Data Inclusion

The American Journal of Public Health published several perspectives on the importance of LGBT-inclusive data gathering in public health, including one article on the importance of this issue for LGBT older adults, whose needs can be made invisible without data. Another article explored growth in those identifying as LGBT, especially among youths, women, and minorities.


The Epic Journey for Inclusive Records

Speaking of data, Wired published a story on some of the challenges in designing healthcare records systems that capture gender identity and sexual orientation, ensuring that the information is used to provide LGBT patients with quality care. The article looks at how the major healthcare technology company Epic worked on reforming its system and educating those who use it.


If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.


Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.


Tobacco Control & LGBT Populations

Anthonyby Anthony Campo, LGBT HealthLink

Every June, during Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, I am reminded of LGBT leaders that came before me like Harvey Milk and watershed moments in our movement such as the Stonewall Riots. The month of June is a time to celebrate the advances toward equality that we have made but also to reflect on the inequities that continue to persist.



As the Education, Training, and Outreach Manager for LGBT HealthLink, a CDC-funded program of CenterLink that works to address LGBT tobacco and cancer related health disparities, my mind turns to health equity and the often-overlooked fact that the LGBT community remains among the groups most affected by tobacco.

According to the CDC, in the United States, smoking prevalence among LGBT individuals is higher than among the total population, resulting in part from aggressive marketing of tobacco products to these communities and LGBT-specific risk factors such as daily stress from social stigma and discrimination.

Yet, another overlooked topic is the role geography plays when considering the LGBT tobacco disparity. According to Dr. Regina Washington, Director of LGBT HealthLink, “Where you live, work, play, and learn matters because geography and health outcomes are inextricably linked. Where you live should not determine how long you live.”

Indeed, LGBT individuals living in one region of the country may have increased access to tobacco compared to those in another region due in part to local policies and ordinances in place. For example, in Hawaii and California, the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 21 compared to 18 in most other states in the US, and the movement to raise the legal age is known as Tobacco21.

T21 states


The vast majority of smokers begin using tobacco during youth, and we know that increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco is associated with lower rates of smoking prevalence including among the LGBT population. Indeed, limiting access can be a catalyst to help smokers quit and prevent uptake in the first place.

This June, think about where you show your pride, because your geographic location will likely play a role in your health outcomes. While our thoughts during Pride Month may focus on other issues facing LGBT communities, we must also consider the issue of health equity and acknowledge the role of geography in addressing LGBT health and tobacco disparities. I encourage each of you to learn more about the Tobacco21 movement and the ways in which you can support this effort in your local community.


LGBT HealthLink provides trainings and technical assistance to public health officials, health systems and providers, and community-based organizations. To learn more and access LGBT HealthLink resources and educational materials, join our free membership!


Jazz Jennings Has a Message – and a Mission



By Corey Prachniak-Rincón, science writer for LGBT HealthLink

With her reality show I Am Jazz kicking off its third season and a half-million Instagram followers to keep entertained, Jazz Jennings is not your typical teen. And as a young, transgender woman in uncertain times, there is no shortage of issues Jennings could draw attention to using her platform.


Given that, it might surprise you that when Jennings took to Instagram on June 20th, it was to discuss an often-overlooked LGBTQ health issue: smoking.

In our interview, Jennings said that after she discussed LGBTQ tobacco use with the the truth campaign, “I knew I had to take part. I feel this is definitely a big problem.” As Jennings points out in her video, LGBTQ young adults are about twice as likely to smoke as their peers; LGBT HealthLink has called tobacco “the most serious yet preventable health crisis facing” queer youth.

“I was definitely surprised to hear that LGBTQ youth are nearly twice as likely to use tobacco, and I feel that the reason for that is that a lot of LGBTQ youth don’t experience love from their family,” or have other forms of support necessary to reject smoking, Jennings said.

“My family has always provided me unconditional love and support,” she added, as anyone who has seen her show knows. “They’ve guided me down a path where I don’t have to use tobacco to be myself.” Not everyone is so fortunate, and seeing some of her transgender friends use tobacco was what made this project personal for her, she said.

Then again, Jennings knows that the massive smoking rates in the LGBTQ community are not just due to a lack of social support – they are also the result of a targeted campaign by tobacco companies, which continues to this day as Big Tobacco infiltrates LGBTQ community spaces and events.

“It’s really not cool that tobacco companies are going to pride events,” Jennings said, where she herself is no stranger. And the targeting that Jennings discusses in her video is not just limited to LGBTQ folks; as truth‘s #STOPPROFILING campaign points out, Big Tobacco also not-so-subtly goes after racial minorities and low-income communities, preying on those it feels are susceptible to its messaging.

Jennings believes that the more people know about the tobacco industry’s tactics, the more they will be inspired to avoid using tobacco or to quit if they have already started. “Hopefully, they can find that support to quit using tobacco and to see that it’s not their fault – that they’re being targeted.”

For LGBTQ youth who may not have much support from their families, or feel comfortable talking to them about tobacco, Jennings recommends seeking out other resources or people for help. “If you go to the LGBTQ community and talk to someone who’s older than you” and who has perhaps quit smoking themselves, “they could really guide you down the right path,” she suggested

For its part, truth is thrilled to have such a high-profile partner whose voice resonates with youth. “Jazz is the perfect partner to help spread this message and arm youth with the facts about tobacco industry profiling tactics,” said Nicole Dorrler, Truth Initiative’s Senior Vice President, Marketing. Dorrler added that she hoped Jazz’s participation will “empower [youths] to be the generation to end tobacco in every community nationwide,” an idea that Jennings found particularly powerful.

Indeed, there have been some positive steps: the federal government has begun to take note of the LGBTQ smoking disparity, and even showed it was taking it seriously with the This Free Life campaign aimed at LGBTQ youth. Some states (even some that might surprise you) have also taken positive steps towards reducing smoking among queer youth.

Jennings hopes that her participation in this campaign will play a small role in the larger fight against tobacco. “Our community is very, very diverse,” she said enthusiastically, “and when we look at this video, hopefully we can realize there’s so much more to us than using cigarettes.”


Good And Not-So-Good Cancer News For Queers

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 seven days. For more LGBTQ Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.

Fake tanFake Tan Could Save Lives

The Guardian reported that scientists are developing a new chemical substance that causes the release of darker skin pigments, perfectly mimicking a suntan. The process would help people prevent sunburns and thus lower risk for skin cancer. It’s especially good news for queer men, who have been shown to practice higher risk behaviors when it comes to skin safety.

Health Concerns for LGBT Older Adults

The National Council on Aging shared three top health concerns for LGBT older adults. One health issue is cancer, which was reported by about 1 in 5 LGBT older adults in one study, and where queer older adults face elevated risks. Mental health and cardiovascular diseases rounded out the three issues that should be of particular concern to queer folks as they age.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Cancer Best and Promising Practices Report final OCT-28.pdf

Researchers published a review of cancer in LGBT communities, including the higher risks that LGBT people face (related to things like smoking, sexual behaviors, and indoor tanning) as well as the subpar care they often receive. The authors noted that transgender patients have especially high barriers to accessing quality care in which doctors understand their cancer risks and needs.

Low HPV Vaccine Rates for Queer Men

A study found that less than 1 in 5 queer men aged 18-26 has been vaccinated for HPV, with only 17.2 percent reporting that they had done so in keeping with government recommendations. The study, covering 20 metropolitan areas, found that factors such as health insurance and having disclosed sexual orientation to a provider increased the likelihood of getting the vaccine.

Queer Folks and Waterpipe Use

Researchers found that queer individuals were more likely to smoke waterpipes than heterosexual individuals, with bisexual women showing the largest disparities in both current and lifetime use. Gay men and lesbian women were also more likely to use waterpipes in their lifetimes compared to heterosexual folks, showing that tobacco disparities go beyond cigarettes.

Medical Group Says Bathroom Bills Hurt

The Washington Blade reported that the American Medical Association has approved a resolution calling out transgender “bathroom bills” that reduce rights and protections for transgender folks using public facilities. The AMA said that these bills can hurt the physical and mental health of transgender people and undermine “safe access to basic human services.”

Syphilis Screening Rising but Low

Researchers found that syphilis screening among men who have sex with men increased from 38 percent to 49 percent between 2008 and 2014. However, that still meant that less than half of queer men had been screened. Troublingly, syphilis diagnoses were reported increasing among several subgroups, including queer Black men and those living with HIV.

Doctor’s Advice Key in HPV Vaccination

A study at three clinics in L.A. and Chicago found that only 13.7 percent of young queer men and transgender women had had at least one dose of HPV vaccine. They also found that those with at least a four-year college degree and those who were white were more likely to get the vaccine, and that a provider’s recommendation was the strongest predictor of getting vaccinated.

Texas Clinic Tackles HIV

The LA Times reported on a clinic in Austin that started offering affordable hormone treatment to transgender Texans and used its sudden popularity to promote PrEP, the HIV prevention drug. The HIV rate among trans individuals (particularly those of color) is much higher than in the general population, but uptake of PrEP has been slow, suggesting the need for more outreach.

SurveyLGBT Questions Return to Older Adult Survey

Rainbow Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services will continue to ask older adults about their sexual orientation and gender identity in a major public health survey it conducts. It is a big reversal from their previous announcement that they would stop collecting this data, which was protested by advocates as a move that could mask LGBT disparities.

Knowledge, Anxiety, and Anal Cancer

Researchers in Australia found that queer men had limited knowledge about anal cancer and HPV, which can cause anal cancer. While abnormal test results for anal cancer generally caused anxiety among patients (particularly those who were not living with HIV), the study found that patients speaking with general practitioners about the results helped them understand and feel less anxious.

More Trans Resources Needed, Expert Says Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth

The Body interviewed Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth, a transgender health expert, about the dearth of resources on transgender health for both patients and professionals. Dr. Erickson-Schroth explained that many transgender resources do not say much on health, and materials are spread across the internet and can be hard to find, especially for people of low resources.


Pap Tests and Anal Screening – We’ve Got You Coming and Going in This Week’s Wellness 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 seven days. For more LGBTQ Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.



Pap Tests Matter for Trans Guys, Too

Speaking of preventing cancer in the transgender community, have you checked out the Check It Out Guys HPV campaign? Not only do they provide tips to providers on providing Pap tests for trans men, but they also have these beautiful ads to advertise the importance of Paps for trans guys.


Yearly Screening Could Reduce Anal Cancer

A Swiss study projected that rates of anal cancer in queer men who are living with HIV could be substantially reduced if members of this group were screened yearly, helping to pick up on potential problems early. The biggest risk factor for anal cancer is the HPV virus, which unfortunately is highly prevalent among queer men living with HIV.


Why Smoking Policies Are an LGBT Issue OPHMo

Curve Magazine opined that nonsmoking policies are a matter of LGBT rights, because queer folks smoke at a disparate rate and new research has shown that nonsmoking policies for places like restaurants and bars are especially helpful for them to quit. They argue that a lack of LGBT-inclusive data helps to mask public smoking laws from being seen as an equality issue.


What Not to Do When You Go Out

A new study found that bar-going LGB folks used a whole slew of tobacco products more than their heterosexual counterparts, including things like e-cigs, hookah, and chewing tobacco. Queer women, for example, were 1.69 times more likely than straight women to use e-cigs and 2.27 times more likely to use both cigarettes and some other tobacco product.


CDC Marks Women’s Health Week

The CDC celebrated National Women’s Health Week by sharing resources such as a quiz on gynecologic cancers and a campaign on how young women can understand heredity risks. LGBT folks face added risks for cancer, so the resources can be especially useful for queer women (and gynecologic and breast cancers are of concern to a lot of trans folks, too).


School Victimization Down in MA

A study of Massachusetts schools found that between 1995 and 2015, rates of LGB students having been threatened dropped from 32.9% to 6.7%, a big improvement. Not unrelatedly, the prevalence of queer students missing school decreased from 25% to 13.4%, but this still indicated a big disparity over the 3.8% prevalence among heterosexual students.

Indonesian Court Sentences Gay Men to Torture

Human Rights Watch condemned a religious court in Indonesia for sentencing a young, same-sex couple to being beaten 85 times with a cane. The crime? Being in a same-sex relationship. HRW said that this is considered illegal torture under international law, and could set a horrifying precedent in a country that has not before used flogging to punish queer individuals.


What It’s Like for Queer Doctors

A new study examined the experiences of LGBT healthcare providers and found that they had stress at work related to being closeted and coming out, as well as faced negative experiences such as missing promotions and discriminatory comments. Many dealt with stress by being advocates and exercising stress care, especially in workplaces lacking LGBT resources.


New Details on Queer Men and HPV

Researchers found that many queer men who had HPV detected in both anal and oral samples had different strands in one versus the other, suggesting they were infected multiple times. Oral infection was less common, present in only 9.8% of participants compared to 71.8% with anal infection, with both more common among smokers and people living with HIV.


ChalkboardGender-affirming Surgery Jumps 20%

US News reported that between 2015 and 2016, the number of gender-affirming surgeries for transgender patients jumped almost 20%, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. About 3,200 surgeries were performed in 2016, which was a big jump from the number performed in 2015, when the surgeons’ group started collecting this data.


More Wellness News Across the States

Governors in Nevada and Connecticut signed laws banning LGBT “conversion therapy”… Alaska state health boards endorsed the view that discrimination against LGBT individuals leads to greater risk for alcohol use, drug use, and more… Washington revealed a state health survey showing that half of bisexual students had contemplated suicide… A Colorado man was arrested for performing a gender-affirming surgery without a medical license… And Oregon may soon become the first state to offer a nonbinary option in official state ID documents.


This Week: News From Orlando, Spain, And Facebook

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 seven days. For more LGBTQ Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here


Photos Explore Recovery After Pulse Attack

The Washington Post published an incredible gallery of photos by Cassi Alexandra that explore the queer community’s recovery after the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub last year. The project chronicles the healing process that survivors, their families, and other in the community have gone through since 49 people were killed a year ago at a Latinx event in Orlando.

Pulse 49


How LGBT People of Color Reacted to Orlando

Researchers surveyed LGBT people of color in the weeks after the Orlando terrorist attack at a queer nightclub and found several themes in their responses, including that violence in their community was not new, that they personally identified with the victims, and that the public reaction to the attack didn’t recognize intersectionalities between queer and other identities.


New Info on Trans Health Disparities

A study looking at state health data shed new light on the disparities transgender folks face, including lower likelihood of having insurance and higher likelihood of having unmet care needs. Transgender individuals were also more likely to report a history of depression, poor or fair overall health, and difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.


RainbowSpainQueer Spaniards Smoking More

A study of queer folks in Spain found that unfortunately, LGB smoking disparities are not just a U.S. phenomenon. Researchers found that when compared to people in different-sex relationships, Spanish women who had a same-sex partner faced 4.54 times the odds of being an active smoker and men with a same-sex partner had 1.86 the odds of being an active smoker.


Victory for Trans Teen

HuffPost reported that a transgender high school student from Wisconsin won a federal appeals case, which found he had a right to use facilities that correspond to his gender identity in school. The court said that the school’s actions – making him use women’s facilities or the bathroom in the nurse’s office – violated his constitutional rights and the Title IX education equality law.


Pressure Mounts on Trans-Inclusive Records

The New York Times reported that while evidence grows on the importance and acceptability of including gender identity in healthcare records, many physicians remain hesitant to ask their patients. Federal agencies have also been pushing healthcare providers to start the practice, and medical records systems will soon be required to include the option for gender identity.


Unmet Need for Care on Campus

A study of college students in California found that sexual minorities had more psychological distress and academic impairment related to their mental health. While the study found that sexual minorities were 1.87 times more likely to access mental health services than were other students, 61% of queer students who needed help were nonetheless not seeking services.


Queer Women and Pregnancy

Researchers found that compared to heterosexual women with only male partners, bisexual-identified women were about twice as likely to report an unwanted pregnancy, and heterosexual-identified women who also had female partners were more likely to report getting pregnant sooner than desired. The results underscore the need for inclusive reproductive health services.


CDC Offers Support for Cancer Survivors

The CDC marked Cancer Survivorship Day with updated resources, including specific tips for providers working with cancer survivors who are active tobacco users. Given that LGBT cancer survivors may need additional support and are more likely to use tobacco, these resources might be especially useful for addressing cancer in the queer community.



Facebook Ads Work for HPV Recruitment 

Researchers tested the effectiveness of Facebook ads to recruit queer men for an HPV vaccine intervention, and found that ads featuring a same-sex couple were more effective at getting clicks and recruits than ads with a sole individual. Additionally, ads mentioning HPV as a sexually-transmitted disease got more folks to click through than ads mentioning cancer.


Study Tests Measures of Gender Identity

A Canadian study tested different methods of collecting sex and gender identity data, including a two-step measure that asked for current gender identity and sex assigned at birth, and a multidimensional measure that asked more detailed questions. They found both measures worked fairly well and did not confuse cisgender respondents, but did raise some concerns and questions for further study.


AMA Foundation Announces Fellowship

The American Medical Association Foundation announced a new fellowship that will provide selected medical schools with grants to support the creation of curricula and programs to train physicians in LGBT health and competency. The AMA Foundation points to recent research that has found training on LGBT health to be significantly lacking, despite the disparities the community faces.


Libraries Expand LGBTQ Health Promotion and Wellness

JC 2017

By Juan Carlos Vega, MLS

Librarian and community blogger,  Citizen’s Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico President, My LGBT HealthLink member

Public and research libraries are not always safe spaces for LGBTQ communities, especially individuals who are transgender/transsexual (trans).  Recently, speaking with a trans Latina immigrant in Washington, D.C. she clearly stated that she and her peers do not feel safe going to the public library.  Like everyone else in D.C. who pays taxes, why shouldn’t they use the resources they already paid for?  It is a reality!  When gender non-conforming individuals walk into public, open spaces like the library, staff and patrons can be the first detrimental factors that can create an unsafe and uncomfortable space to learn and to access knowledge by simply staring while reading a book.

Librarians are social justice activists who have been in the forefront of creating LGBTQ friendly spaces, build LGBTQ collections and libraries, and creating national and international networks to maintain LGBTQ voices visible.  Yet, much work is needed, especially where there is no token gay or lesbian librarian but in only one of 25 branches in a city/county wide system.  The reality of lack of safe spaces or competencies amplifies for trans women of color and gender non-conforming individuals.

This lack of safe spaces is why I presented on May 4, 2017 to the Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists (SALIS) Association & the Association of Mental Health Librarians (AMHL) 2017 Joint Annual International Conference in Worcester, Massachusetts.  My mission was to help librarians, health information specialists, program managers, and prevention resource center managers properly expand collections and services to LGBTQ clients and communities.  During the session, LGBTQ heath disparities were discussed and strategies were provided to make welcoming spaces for LGBTQ individuals in hospitals, libraries and resource centers.

JC presentation

For most members of the LGBTQ communities, access to health promotion and prevention is limited to HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease (STDs).  Risk behaviors like tobacco and alcohol consumption are not always on the brochure table when you enter into LGBTQ spaces or participate in LGBTQ related events.

Departments of health, service providers, and health promotion programs and organizations need to aggressively move beyond sexual health and condom distribution.  They need to implement wellness approaches in our communities.  They need to face LGBTQ high incidences of obesity, diabetes, anxiety/stress, and substance use. They need to start providing mammograms, giving-out incentives for pap smears, and distributing lollipops for colonoscopies at Pride events.  They should follow the example of the Quitline Ladies from the North Carolina Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch.  Their nickname comes for their years of distributing tobacco prevention and smoking cessation support opportunities at Pride events.  Now, they are integrating technologies and are reaching out to LGBTQ smokers using smartphones.

According to data from the National Adult Tobacco Survey, LGBT individuals smoke at rates 50% higher than the general population.  As concerning as that is the “research and intervention programs, prevention and health care practices, and resources and policies that specifically address cancer in the LGBT communities are significantly lacking,” according to LGBT HealthLink’s LGBT Best and Promising Practices Throughout the Cancer Continuum Report .  Equally disturbing is the 2011 Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.  It presents dramatic findings on the impact of how transgender bias and discrimination related “events lead to insurmountable challenges and devastating outcomes for study participants”.  Among the findings, 41 percent of the 6,450 respondents reported attempting suicide compared to a rate of 1.6 percent for the general population.  Our communities have made huge strides on working with the HIV epidemic (although not necessarily among LGBTQ people of color).  Yet very much is still needed to decrease the rates of smoking and to increase cancer screening rates in our communities.

While some states health departments, hospitals, and non-profit programs are pushing to change this landscape, LGBTQ community centers are leading the way to promote LGBTQ health promotion and wellness.  For decades, community support groups have been a primary service provided at the centers.  More recently, LGBTQ community centers are creatively implementing wellness promotion programs and other culturally competent means of disseminating health risk information and identifying prevention/treatment services including tobacco cessation and cancer screening programs.  Local LGBTQ leadership continues to educate themselves on data surveillance and program evaluation strategies to be able to implement locally.  Other centers have small libraries or information centers in make-up corners with donated book shelves, while others like Oklahomans for Equality manage a full library as part of the operation of the Equality Center.  Their Nancy & Joe McDonald Rainbow Library, like many others libraries across the country, honors the efforts of local LGBT activists, leaders, and allies.  The community lending library houses over 3,500 LGBT-related titles including biographies, family, history, health, travel, and much more.  I had the opportunity to visit in 2015 and it is incredible to see what a group of dedicated volunteers can do!  I know of several other LGBTQ community centers looking to set up small libraries and information centers as ways to organize and expand the books and resources available in the corner bookshelf.  Contact me at ActivistLibrarian@gmail.com!  Let’s make this happen!

An information specialist from Virginia Commonwealth University discussed during her SALIS/AMHL conference session on her work regarding information literacy competencies for the field of addictions.  She was looking for comments to improve competencies on her efforts and personal responsibilities of libraries and librarians to disseminate information and knowledge to our peers in the field.  I knew exactly I was talking to the right crowd.