State Work

For Immediate Release- LGBT HealthLink Grades States on LGBT Tobacco Integration

PRESS RELEASE
December 10,  2014

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Dr. Scout
(954) 765-6024
scout@lgbtcenters.org

LGBT HealthLink Grades States on LGBT Tobacco Integration

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – December 10, 2014 – LGBT HealthLink today announced the first ever grades for state tobacco programs’ LGBT inclusion practices. The grades, based on a survey of best practices originally conducted in 2013 and updated this fall, represent an assessment of the overall progress each state has made in addressing inclusion, including policies, training, data collection, and community engagement. Grades span from “A” to “F”, with the average across states a “C+”.

LGBT people smoke at rates that are over 50% higher than the general population and experience profound health disparities in both cancer and smoking-related disease. The survey was developed to bring transparency to how successful states are at integrating this disproportionately affected population into their overall tobacco control work.

According to Daniella Matthews-Trigg, Administrator of LGBT HealthLink, “The results of this survey not only illustrate the work that needs to be done, but highlights the impressive efforts by many states. Our hope is that creating a system for comparison will motivate states to adopt as many best practices as possible, thereby improving acceptance and wellness in LGBTQ communities around the country”. LGBT HealthLink is offering resources to each state to improve their grades.

For several years, LGBT HealthLink (formerly the Network for LGBT Health Equity) has been circulating “Identifying and Eliminating LGBT Tobacco Disparities”, a document outlining the best practices for state programs in LGBT tobacco control, and working closely with states to implement them. These report cards are intended to gauge adoption of those best practices at a state level and create a baseline for future work.

The release of the report cards comes just after the CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health recently accepted applications from states for their next five years of tobacco funding. Dr. Scout, Director of LGBT HealthLink, noted that “In order to eliminate the LGBT smoking disparity, we need to make sure the tobacco control community targets us just like the tobacco industry already does.”

Matthews-Trigg emphasized how closely HealthLink is working with states improve their grades, “We are the people providing technical assistance to these states to do this well, so this is really a report card of our work as much as theirs. We look forward to continuing our work with the many amazing state representatives to get these grades even higher.”

View the report cards: www.lgbthealthlink.org/Report-Cards/2014

For more about the methodology and scoring:

www.lgbthealthlink.org/Report-Cards

 # # #

 LGBT HealthLink, a program of CenterLink, spreads LGBT wellness best practices across state and federal health departments and community organizations. LGBT HealthLink is one of eight CDC-funded tobacco and cancer disparity networks. www.lgbthealthlink.org

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. Serving over 200 LGBT community centers across the country in 46 states. Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, as well as centers in Canada, Mexico, China, Cameroon and Australia, the organization plays an important role in supporting the growth of LGBT centers and addressing the challenges they face by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity and increase access to public resources. www.lgbtcenters.org

Tobacco Policy

Missouri Coalition Pushes State to National Leadership on LGBT Health

Missouri might not top many LGBT people’s lists of great places to live, but after today you might want to rethink the charms of the Show Me State. For the last year a local coalition has been pushing adoption of LGBT-welcoming policies at hospitals. In this week’s release of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index, Missouri zoomed from 37th in the country to sixth in the number of local LGBT leader hospitals.

We don’t see policy changes this quickly very often, especially when they require many companies to adopt new policies. What’s the secret to this unlikely success? A few years ago Missouri Foundation for Health funded a partnership with the local Equality Federation partner, PROMO, and SAGE Metro St. Louis. My project, LGBT HealthLink, was also brought on board to provide them with technical assistance. With funding and staff and policy expertise all in place, the Missouri team got down to business to see what they could change to affect LGBT health disparities in their state.

If you just look at the situation today, you’d think they immediately stumbled on the equivalent of oil and a match for policy change, but, like many good projects, they started slowly. First they mapped the policy environment; then they tried a few different strategies for change. One of the things they identified was a big gap: While most hospitals were required to have LGBT-nondiscrimination policies by the agency that accredits them, they could find little evidence of those policies by searching. And if we can’t find them, then patients couldn’t either.

For a while the PROMO staff played nice with the hospitals, trying to build relations and seeing how to move the changes gradually. Some hospitals did respond, but the work was crawling forward. Eventually, we switched to a different tactic, blanketing many hospitals with letters pointing out that these policies were required. Then, of course, the PROMO staff person, Andrew Shaughnessey, was there following up with multiple phone calls offering to help them with policy resources. The new strategy, which we’ve taken to calling the “terrier approach,” worked. Eventually even the hospitals that said they weren’t interested started to call Andrew back. And if they needed LGBT-cultural-competency training as part of the new policy changes, Sherrill Wayland from SAGE was ready to step in to set up in-person trainings at a moment’s notice.

The upshot of all of this work was that, while in 2013 seven hospitals had LGBT-nondiscrimination policies in place, now 31 do. While seven hospitals protected LGBT status in employment, now 30 do. While two had achieved Healthcare Equality Index leader status in 2013, now 19 have. Today several of those hospitals are putting out their own press releases lauding their LGBT-welcoming policies. It’s a far cry from 2013, and that means much better access to health for thousands of LGBT people in Missouri.

What I want to see now is this amazing level of success replicated. I’ve worked in policy change for a very long time, and trust me, a model to change policies this fast comes extremely rarely. While they had a funder in Missouri giving them the time to experiment with different strategies, any other community center or equality organization in another state can take advantage of that work and just do what worked for them. Nicely, the PROMO team has documented their steps really clearly in the LGBT HealthLink blog. See the first post about it here.

Kudos to everyone in Missouri. From the amazing staff team at PROMO and at SAGE to Missouri Foundation for Health, who cared enough to invest, and the many hospital systems who jumped on board, this is an amazing job by all, and it’ll really affect the health of the LGBT communities in your state.

Now who else wants to do it for their states?

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
@andrewshag

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.

 

Huffington Post LGBT Wellness

LGBT Wellness Roundup: October 5

As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at: http://ow.ly/DhVNO

Each week HuffPost Gay Voices, in a partnership with bloggers Liz Margolies and Scout, brings you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit our page dedicated to the topic here. The weekly LGBT Wellness Roundup can also now be experienced as a video — check it out above.

Conferences · National Black Justice Coalition

Bisexual Naming at National Black Justice Coalition Out on the Hill Conference

One of the great things we discussed at length during last week’s Bisexual Awareness Week (#biweek) was the bisexual identity, the many labels bi people consider using to describe their experiences and why. Awhile back the Patheos.com “Camels with Hammers” blog published a great piece that detailed the vital function that both labels and the development of labels serve. I’ve bolded some of the more stunning statements here for the “tl;dr” crowd.

“Naming the gender types, the sexual orientation types, the sexual interest types even, in all their beautiful diversity helps us think better. It helps us acknowledge more realities and account for them with better social practices so that the people who don’t fit into one or two current everyday categories are now taken into account. Having words for these differing people at the tip of our tongue, reminds us they exist at all. Refusing the words for them. Refusing the conceptualizations of their experience they offer us is an attempt to erase their existence. It’s an attempt to make it harder for us to remember them or think about them. It will make it harder for us to take any interest in their thriving. The conditions of their thriving may be different than ours. Denying them labels to describe themselves or their experiences will make it harder for us to meet their needs.”- “Why Do We Need Labels Like “Gay”, “Bi”, “Trans”, and “Cis”?

With this in mind we should welcome new conceptualizations of sexuality, gender, race, culture and every aspect of our humanity. For black bisexual people this conversation has been an on-going cultural experience. As a child I remember my West-Indian grandfather bristling as popular culture began to exclusively use African-American to describe black experiences in America. For him and other members of my family, the term African-American did not fully describe their experiences, political history and culture of their Black America.

cheltenham_clinton
Meeting former president Bill Clinton one night at dinner was a highlight for my grandparents (left)

Every so often it seems that words will change to reflect our better understanding of each others experiences. Nowhere is that truer than for bisexual folks who have re-claimed terms like bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer to describe our lives as sexually fluid individuals. It’s also necessary for there to be some examples and role models for black and bisexual people, whether it be youth, elders or working professionals.

ooth-label-ocean
From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

Being able to positively identify yourself within a group of people is also extremely important for bisexual people striving to find a safe haven from the micro aggressions bisexual people regularly report experiencing. For as a recent report on bisexual women and micro aggressions said:

“We hypothesize that microaggressions that render bisexual women’s identity claims faulty or, worse, false and inauthentic, burden bisexual women with additional ‘identity work’. This burden, or stressor, is both cognitively and emotionally taxing, and in turn, likely has negative consequences for mental health and well-being.” – Wendy Bostwick on bisexual specific micro aggressions

ooth-bisexual
Faith Cheltenham, ABilly S. Jones-Hennin, and Shervon Laurice at Senate Hart building #OOTH2014

One of the more important things we did at our Out on the Hill black bisexual panel was exist as our total selves and in doing so continue to cement the importance of affirming black people, bisexual people, LGBTQIA people and every person working towards a world where we’re all equally valid.

Conferences · National Black Justice Coalition · Uncategorized

The Black Bisexual Experience Presentation at Out on the Hill Conference

faith cheltenham

Faith Cheltenham, President of BiNet USA

Blogging from the National Black Justice Coalition’s Out on the Hill Conference.

On the 2nd day of the NBJC Out on the Hill Conference I was honored to present one of the very first presentation/panel discussions on the black bisexual experience from inside Capitol Hill’s Hart Senate building.

faith bi icon

From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

Members of NBJC, BiNet USA, Alliance of Multicultural Bisexuals (AMBi) of Metro DC and Center for Culture, Spirituality and Sexuality all contributed thought leadership into the PowerPoint presentation I presented on The Black Bisexual Experience. Following my presentation we had a 30 minute panel discussion featuring Black LGBT and bisexual icon, ABilly S. Jones-Hennin and Shervon Laurice a D.C. based bisexual psychologist.

faith bi platform

From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

Charles Blow’s recent piece for the New York Times surrounding the launch of his book was also shared with attendees of our workshop thanks to the quick actions of Out on the Hill organizers.  Blow has written a stunning memoir of growing up black and bisexual, something I myself also aim to do. Having Blow’s piece shared with OOTH attendees helped emphasize the national conversation that is taking place surrounding bisexual community issues of disparities and resiliency.

faith intimate partner violence

From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

For black bisexual people these conversations are especially important for sometimes it feels like the best way to be brave in the face of a disparity is to be knowledgeable about it. Many bisexual disparities are based in our own hearth and home, whether it be the staggering rates of sexual/physical violence or the higher rates of mental health issues including depression, suicidality, self-injury, and PTSD that bi people often report.

When looking closely at data provided by the CDC on the lifetime prevalence of sexual violence as experienced by certain minority groups we see something interesting. Both bisexual and multicultural (non-Hispanic) people report high rates of experiencing intimate partner violence. They also report higher rates of rape and sexual violence.

faith bi violence

From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

One question I posed during my Out on the Hill presentation considered whether bisexual and multiracial people have similar issues and vulnerabilities, not being fully in one world or another. It may indeed be the case that the higher levels of physical/sexual violence disparities reported by both are due to fewer multicultural or bisexual specific resources.

faith bi info

From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

As conversations continue about the violence perpetuated upon black communities we must strive to consistently remember how that stress affects the health of black people. When people have more than one identity like black bisexual folks, the multiplier factor only increases meaning that if we wish to care about the health of black bisexual people we need to truly design interventions that target both communities.

faith infograph

From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

References:

  1. Out For Health, Healthy People 2020 Bisexual Fact Sheet (link)
  2. Walters, M.L., Chen J., & Breiding, M.J. (2013). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (link).
Arkansas LGBT Health Initiative · Conferences · scholarship

Putting the I in LGBTQI

 

e.shor

 

E. Shor, MPH

Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellow through UW-Madison

 

Blogging Live from: the LGBTI Health Research Conference

 

This has been a jam-packed day so far and it is only half over at the LGBTI Health Research Conference. There have been speakers addressing data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity, addressing the necessity of doing more research around intersex identities, policy changes and implications of those changes, transgender health, history of research in LGBTQI communities, and so much more.  My brain feels full of things to think about.

 

Here a few things I thought were interesting:

 

  • From a historical perspective, Kellan Baker of the Center for American Progress, described a historical paradigm shift that has been happening in the lat 15 years. He mentioned that in the 2000s public health work highlighted health disparities, and in the 2010s the lens has shifted to health equity and health in all policies. This paradigm shift has really emphasized that equity is justice in the form of public policy and changing systems.

 

  • Thus far there have been a number of speakers highlighting experiences of groups who often face high levels of invisibility, including people who are intersex, and who are transgender. There have been great strides in methodology around collecting data in transgender and gender non-conforming communities. The two-step question method outlines questions to ascertain “sex at birth” and “current gender identity” to affirm a participants gender identity and create understanding about potential clinical needs and biological implications. However, it was very interesting to engage in dialogue about the fact that this two-step method may not be effective for people who are intersex, and that there is great need to build and test questions that capture intersex experiences and conditions.

 

  • Here are some thoughts on where to go and what we need to do to continue doing good work around LGBTQ health and research…

 

  • e.shor lgbt health con
Philly Trans health conference

Reflections on Trans Health 2014

Pride Center Staff Photo

 

 

   #bishopmakalani-mahee
   Philly the City of Trans Love
   Bishop S.F. Makalani-MaHee

 

 

 

Health begins with wellness, and out of wellness comes wholeness defined as containing all components; not divided or dis-joined.  The Trans community is reaching out for visibility, community, and health.  I found this posting on my friend Jay’s Facebook post, it read “I really can’t figure out the words to describe how I feel after attending PTHC (Philly Trans Health Conference)”; he then went on to post “for a guy who was told a couple of years ago (by my Mother, no less) that by transitioning I was limiting myself to a life without friends or the possibility of love.  I feel amazingly loved, supported, happy, and blessed.  I am proud and humbled to be a part of the trans community”.  After reading this I thought to myself that Jay had beautiful and succinctly articulated the joy and withdrawal we were all feeling leaving PTHC; while reminding us that today we live so far outside of the shadows of the gloomy past of stealth living not as a joy of passing, but as a necessity for survival.

We have moved from the unhealthy darkness of shame and secrecy that trans people take to graves to the ability to show up in the world in the light of our truths and share access to life saving medical services so that trans children like 13 Jazz can live their lives as trans fuller and earlier.  I think about Billy Tipton the noted jazz musician who died an old man in a trailer refusing to see a Doctor, and I think of Robert Eads an out trans-man diagnosed with ovarian cancer who in 1996 could not find a physician that would treat him and I know that we have moved a long way to building a healthier trans community.  Likewise I know that due to  hate violence, addiction, HIV, and barriers to  accessing  medical care the average life span for a trans woman of color is 35 years of age; which is a stark reminder of how much more healthier we need our community to be.

As I reflect on what I will carry with me from PTHC it is the realization that I have brothers, sisters, advocates, and allies; and that you can find community when you push through the fear of the lie so many of us were told of having to live our lives in the shame of secrecy or as lepers if we dared to live as our authentic selves.

For a guy who was told a couple of years ago (by my mother, no less) that by transitioning I was limiting myself to a life without friends or the possibility of love, I feel amazingly loved, supported, happy, and blessed. I am proud and humbled to be a part of the trans* community.For a guy who was told a couple of years ago (by my mother, no less) that by transitioning I was limiting myself to a life without friends or the possibility of love, I feel amazingly loved, supported, happy, and blessed. I am proud and humbled to be a part of the trans* community.

 

Continue To Walk In The Light, Redefine Your Faith, and Remember It’s All The Rhythm.

Conferences · Feature · Philly Trans health conference

Revolutionary: Asking the Hard Questions

Pride Center Staff Photo

 

 

Bishop S.F. Makalani-Mahee

Minister. Performing Artist. Community Organizer

 

 

 

One of the blessings I receive from attending conferences such as Philly Trans Health is the intentional creation of space for dialogue, dialogue  that not shares experience, strength, and hope; but dialogue that challenges our thoughts, assumptions, and bias.  Here the keynotes addresses serve as family gathering/meeting where we affirm one another and remind each other we are not alone; discuss how to function more healthily as a family, and we can hold  each other accountable in love.

I was sitting in a workshop where a trans woman of color was cautioning us to have the conversations that shines a light on our shame so that our youth know we haven’t always been who we are today, and there were times when we made choices (for whatever the reason maybe) that we were not always proud of.  However, we realize that we don’t have to carry the shame of those choices with us for the rest of our lives.   When we engage each other in conversations, and ask each other the hard questions we create a space of truth, trust, respect, and non-judgment.

I left that session asking myself  “Where am I not being honest, about owning my own shame based experiences?” This was a hard question that I would not have been able to ask myself had there not been the intentional creation of the space to have conversations that ask the hard questions, and the strength, boldness, and courage of people to show up and share their shame  spoken in truth that becomes warrior marks and the bridges to our destiny.

I also feel that these conversations and asking the hard questions provide a lifeline for those of us who live in places where there is not large trans communities, or visible people of color communities, or resources for them; and as such there is not an ongoing dialogue that addresses living in a world impacted by micro-aggression, and confronting an oppressive white supremacist –capitalist-patriarchy that doesn’t want us to engage with or empower each other; which really makes me think that having conversation and asking the hard questions may be one of the most revolutionary things we can do.

 

Continue To Walk In The Light, Redefine Your Faith, and Remember It’s All The Rhythm.

 

 

Conferences

Trans First World Problems

Pride Center Staff Photo

 

Bishop S.F. Makalani-Mahee

Minister. Performing Artist. Community Organizer

 

 

 

 

So I’m sitting in  this workshop at Philly Trans Health Conference entitled “Everything in Africa is Gendered”  given by  a south African trans woman of color, and before the workshop even begins she comes over to me introduces herself and tells me that she is living and working in rural South Africa as an out trans woman of color.  I am immediately sobered by the courage of her reality and share my thoughts as such with her; and her response to me was somebody’s got to do the work for those who come after her, so why not her and what I got in that moment is that as difficult as navigating a transgender experience in America can be, I am grateful to be doing so.

 

I and most of the trans folk I know have access to services like mental health and medical services, we have access to education, and most of us have access to food and community.  While our sister’s and brother’s in developing countries struggle to simply eat, find language that speaks their truth,  experience boundaries to accessing competent and lifesaving  medical  care, limited (if any) education, and they may not  have community for support.  Those of us that are employed, have access to care and community resources (like the ability to attend Philly Trans Health) may want to consider that we have trans first world problems and I would offer that we bare this in mind when wanting to fall out with each other or want to go to battle over things that really don’t matter; like young trans folk thinking older trans folk are stuck in the past and just “don’t get it”.

 

I would offer instead that we remember that there are trans people who wish they had other’s to relate to; and as we fight amongst each other about setting a trans agenda there are trans folk in our world just trying to stay alive.   We should find ourselves extremely grateful for what we have and the community we have, and if we recognize that even given the work yet to be done we are in a unique place of privilege that other trans people would perceive as the promised land, and we have a responsibility to do the work so that those that come after us have a promised land to enter into.

 

Continue To Walk In The Light, Redefine Your Faith, and Remember It’s All The Rhythm.