LGBTQ Support and Resources Tom Franco MSW,LCSW
Improving the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals is of paramount importance to mef as a therapist.
LGBT individuals encompass all races and ethnicities, religions, and social classes. Sexual orientation and gender identity questions are not asked on most national or State surveys, making it difficult to estimate the number of LGBT individuals and their health needs.
My goal is to help you conquer some of what research suggests that LGBT individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders,1 substance abuse,2, 3 and suicide.4 Experiences of violence and victimization are frequent for LGBT individuals, and have long-lasting effects on the individual and the community.5 Personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity affects the mental health and personal safety of LGBT individuals.6
The LGBT companion document to Healthy People 20107 highlighted the need for more research to document, understand, and address the environmental factors that contribute to health disparities in the LGBT community.
Why Is LGBT Health Important?
Eliminating LGBT health disparities and enhancing efforts to improve LGBT health are necessary to ensure that LGBT individuals can lead long, healthy lives. The many benefits of addressing health concerns and reducing disparities include:
Reductions in disease transmission and progression
Increased mental and physical well-being
Reduced health care costs
Efforts to improve LGBT health include:
Collecting SOGI data in health-related surveys and health records in order to identify LGBT health disparaties8
Appropriately inquiring about and being supportive of a patient's sexual orientation and gender identity to enhance the patient-provider interaction and regular use of care9
Providing medical students with training to increase provision of culturally competent care10
Implementing antibullying policies in schools11
Providing supportive social services to reduce suicide and homelessness among youth11
Curbing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with interventions that work12
Related Topic Areas
Understanding LGBT Health
Understanding LGBT health starts with understanding the history of oppression and discrimination that these communities have faced. For example, in part because bars and clubs were often the only safe places where LGBT individuals could gather, alcohol abuse has been an ongoing problem.14
Social determinants affecting the health of LGBT individuals largely relate to oppression and discrimination. Examples include:
Legal discrimination in access to health insurance, employment, housing, marriage, adoption, and retirement benefits
Lack of laws protecting against bullying in schools
Lack of social programs targeted to and/or appropriate for LGBT youth, adults, and elders
Shortage of health care providers who are knowledgeable and culturally competent in LGBT health
The physical environment that contributes to healthy LGBT individuals includes:
Safe schools, neighborhoods, and housing
Access to recreational facilities and activities
Availability of safe meeting places
Access to health services
LGBT health requires specific attention from health care and public health professionals to address a number of disparities, including:
LGBT youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.15
LGBT youth are more likely to be homeless.16, 17, 18
Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer.19, 20
Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other STDs, especially among communities of color.21
Lesbians and bisexual females are more likely to be overweight or obese.22
Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs,23 victimization,24 mental health issues,25 and suicide26 and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or LGB individuals.27
Elderly LGBT individuals face additional barriers to health because of isolation and a lack of social services and culturally competent providers.28
Continuing Issues in LGBT Health
A number of issues will need to continue to be evaluated and assessed over the coming decade, including:
Nationally representative data on LGBT Americans
Prevention of violence and homicide toward the LGB community, and especially the transgender population
Resiliency in LGBT communities
LGBT parenting issues throughout the life course
Elder health and well-being
Exploration of sexual/gender identity among youth
Need for a LGBT wellness model
Recognition of transgender health needs as medically necessary
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