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The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center (LAGLC) applauded the Federal Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recommendations on April 1 to the White House on steps to improve the health and well-being of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the United States.
“This is the most comprehensive and significant action ever taken by the federal government to support the well-being of LGBT people,” said Lorri L. Jean, LAGLC CEO. “As the nation’s largest provider of comprehensive health and medical services to LGBT people, we see on a daily basis the harms caused by a health system that has rarely treated us fairly or well. We applaud HHS for its leadership and work to advance the health of our community.”
Jean added that the recommendation showed the HHS was focused on the LGBT community “for the first time in a long time” and that there is currently very little information on the health needs of the LGBT community.
The HHS recommendations included conducting outreach to organizations that serve the LGBT community, like the LAGLC, and collecting more data about LGBT people through health and demographic surveys, something Jean said was purposely ignored under the Bush administration. The HHS conducts various health surveys throughout the country, but Jean said this would be the first focused effort to include the LGBT community.
“Under George W. Bush, the LGBT community was excluded from these surveys,” Jean said. “With these recommendations, the HHS is saying they want to make sure LGBT info and data is being collected through these surveys.”
The HHS recommendations came in response to a memorandum from President Barack Obama issued last April to the HHS asking it to explore steps the agency could take to improve the health and well-being of LGBT people and ending discrimination in hospital visitations.
The recommendations will also help to ensure that the domestic partners living together do not have their house taken away in the event the listed homeowner dies. Jean said that many people have lost their homes after the government put liens on the property after the primary owner passed away.
There will also be cultural competency training with LGBT people for health care professionals. Jean said this is a big addition since there is currently no such training in place.
“When I go to the doctor, they always ask me if I use birth control,” Jean said. “When I say no, I always get a lecture and they never think to ask about my sexual orientation or phrasing the question differently. This is a common problem that could be easily fixed with training.”
The new recommendations would help supply more information on the LGBT community’s health; something Jean said was long overdue.
“If we can have more scientific research on the LGBT community’s health, that would be a great benefit,” Jean said.
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