The Source LGBT+ Center joins 170 organizations speaking to government and health care providers regarding care for marginalized communities.
As we move further into population level interventions and continue to grapple with care shortages and economic harms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the undersigned LGBTQ+ and allied organizations call upon public health authorities, health care institutions, government agencies and policymakers to address the following concerns:
Ensuring Nondiscrimination in Health Care Settings. There is a long history of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the health care system. Even where they do not encounter overt discrimination, too many LGBTQ+ individuals and families experience a lack of understanding, unwelcoming attitudes, and even hostility from health care providers and staff. In high-stress situations with looming threats of shortages of life-saving medical equipment, hospital beds and health care staff, the danger of implicit if not explicit bias against queer patients is especially worrisome. Community concerns have been heightened by recent reports that an evangelical organization which New York City is depending on to help address the COVID crisis there, is requiring volunteers to subscribe to its explicitly anti-LGBTQ “statement of faith.” In addition to the very real possibility of mistreatment, the fear of encountering discrimination or hostility discourages many LGBTQ+ people from promptly seeking medical care – which endangers them, their families and friends, and the entire community during this pandemic.
Documenting and Reporting the Impact of COVID on LGBTQ+ Communities. One of the greatest challenges facing the LGBTQ+ communities is invisibility to policymakers, public health officials and health care providers due in significant part to the failure to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) from patients and in government-sponsored surveys. Available reporting suggests that most jurisdictions are not collecting such data from patients and in COVID-19 prevention efforts. This failure makes it much more difficult to ensure that communities that are marginalized by health care systems are fully served and protected. The disproportionate rates of infection and death related to COVID-19 among Black and Latinx populations demonstrate the urgency of removing systematic barriers to good health and economic stability among stigmatized groups.
Protecting the Economic Health of LGBTQ+ People. The pandemic is having a grossly disproportionate, devastating effect on lower-income people and people working in service industries, many of whom are losing their jobs, their health insurance, and their means of support. Notwithstanding stereotypes to the contrary, LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately low-income. Studies have documented that on the national level 22% of our community members live in poverty, as compared to 16% of non-LGBTQ people. For some subsets of our community, this gap is even more profound; nearly one in three (29.4%) transgender people and cisgender bisexual women live in poverty. The economic toll of necessary social distancing measures, and business shutdowns, therefore, are harming our communities as well as many others.
Therefore, we call on federal, state, and local public health authorities, health care institutions, and government officials to:
- Take a clear, strong, and public stand against any discrimination in this pandemic, whether based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, religion, or disability. This includes adding language prohibiting discrimination on all COVID-19 response legislation. It is particularly important to include explicit safeguards to prevent discrimination against residents of long-term care facilities, residential treatment facilities, halfway houses, youth in foster care systems, and other particularly vulnerable persons.
- Reach out to national, state and local LGBTQ+ organizations in order to listen to community concerns and to clearly convey the commitment to nondiscriminatory, culturally competent, and welcoming care for all.
- Ensure all COVID-19 data collection and reporting include SOGI demographic measures.
- Ensure government aid programs respond to the disproportionately distributed economic harms resulting from this pandemic and protect against discrimination on any of the factors noted above. There is an urgent and growing need for expanded income, medical benefits, housing and nutrition assistance for unemployed people and those whose wages have been suspended; job protection; inclusive paid sick leave and family leave; protections against evictions and utility cutoffs; and government-mandated safety precautions for health care workers, employees at grocery stores, delivery workers, sanitation workers, and others who are less able to protect themselves through social distancing.
As national, state, and local LGBTQ and allied organizations, we will continue to share important public health information to our populations and recommit to ensuring that racial equity and economic justice are leading values in our collective response to this pandemic.
Original Signers: Whitman-Walker Health National LGBT Cancer Network GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance New York Transgender Advocacy Group SAGE
Additional Signers Include: California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, CenterLink, Equality California, Fenway Health, Human Rights Campaign, The Source LGBT+ Center, The TransLatin@ Coalition, The Trevor Project, and many more.
“The Source LGBT+ Center is working at the local, state, and national level to ensure inclusive dignified systems of care are available to everyone in our county. We believe that when people feel safe and included, the whole community thrives. Now is the time to protect each other.”
Brian Poth | Executive Director
The Source LGBT+ Center
For a list of all signatory organizations to this letter, visit this link: https://cancer-network.org/coronavirus-2019-lgbtq-info/
The Source LGBT+ Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
If you would like more information about this release, please contact Brian Poth, Executive Director at 323-559-1727 or email at [email protected], Nick Vargas, Director of Development at 559-372-2847 or email at [email protected], or Jim Reeves, Community Liaison, at 559-284-1819 or email at [email protected].