Diversity enhances the intellectual, emotional, economic, moral and spiritual life of a community. Among the diverse individuals in our own region is our LGBTQ+ community.
Pride Month is an annual celebration to bring awareness to the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals have on our communities in our nation and around the world. While we recognize we have made progress, we know there is much work to be done. The first step in fixing a problem is to recognize there is one and understand it. In honor of this year’s Pride Month celebration, let’s take a look at healthcare disparities LGBTQ+ individuals face and how all of us, as a healthcare provider or a member of the community, can help minimize the gap and uplift every person.
Understanding health inequity by the numbers
According to research conducted by HealthyPeople.gov, people within the LBGTQ+ community face significant health disparities due to societal stigma, discrimination and denial of their civil and human rights.
These disparities include:
- LGBTQ+ youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.
- LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to be homeless.
- Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer.
- Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other STDs.
- Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues and suicide, and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or other LGBQ+ individuals.
- Elderly LGBTQ+ individuals face additional barriers to health because of isolation and lack of social services and culturally competent providers.
- LGBTQ+ populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.
What causes disparities in healthcare?
There are many factors that contribute to the growth of these disparities, such as:
- Legal discrimination in access to health insurance, employment, housing, marriage, adoption and retirement benefits.
- Lack of social programs targeted to and/or appropriate for LGBTQ+ youth, adults and elders.
- Shortage of healthcare providers who are knowledgeable and culturally competent in LGBTQ+ health.
How can we help?
Within our community we must come together to create spaces that are inclusive and healing where every person feels safe to be themselves. As individuals and neighbors, we must ensure that we are promoting an environment of growth, understanding and acceptance across schools, neighborhoods and housing; and equal access to recreational facilities, activities and especially access to health services.
Mission Health is proud to foster a culture that values differences and similarities.