What is LGBTQIA+? LGBTQIA+ is a shorthand way to reference a diverse community of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or other. This acronym represents a broad range of identities and expressions of gender, sexual orientation, and presentation.
LGBTQIA+ health disparities are preventable gaps in physical and mental health that stem from social stigma, discrimination, inequities, and denial of civil and human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Amazingly, it is still legal to deny housing, employment and business services to people identifying as LGBTQIA+. No matter where they live, many LGBTQ Americans continue to face discrimination and social stigma in their daily lives.
Research shows how this constant struggle directly and indirectly affects LGBTQIA+ health and well-being, leading to worse outcomes than the general population.
There are three types of health disparities in the LGBTQIA+ community:
- Physical Health
- Increased Risk of Violence
- Mental Health
Evidence shows that discrimination increases physical and mental health risks for LGBTQIA+ people. The various roles within the public health field are uniquely suited to helping develop, practice and support LGBTQIA+ communities by working to make sure culturally relevant services are provided across the healthcare continuum.
Be an ally & advocate!
One of the best ways to support health equity is to spread awareness and partner with organizations focused on serving the LGBTQIA+ community. Through education, advocacy and support within communities, families, schools and various public health organizations and healthcare providers, public health workers can be instrumental in reversing the alarming healthcare disparities faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.
Here is a list of groups and resources of organizations that serve the LGBTQIA+ community:
- Centerlink, The Community of LGBTQ Centers. They provide an international directory of local centers serving LGBTQ health, social, cultural, and political advocacy needs.
- Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality. In addition to providing educational resources for professionals, this organization offers a directory of LGBTQ-welcoming healthcare providers.
- Healthcare Equality Index. The Human Rights Campaign LGBTQ advocacy group conducts an annual survey of healthcare facilities on policies and practices dedicated to equitable treatment and inclusion for LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees.
- The HEI 2022 report provides the survey results and education about improving healthcare inclusiveness for the LGBTQ community. This tool helps find facilities that complete the survey.
- NAMI. The alliance offers information about LGBTQ mental health for individuals, families and healthcare professionals.
- LGBT National Help Center. This organization operates three national hotlines that provide peer-support for youth, adults and older adults in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning community.
- PFLAG. With nearly 250,000 members and 400 chapters across the country, PFLAG focuses on providing support, information and resources for LGBTQ people, their parents, families, and allies.
- The Trevor Project. This organization provides information and support to LGBTQ young people, including 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors by chat, text or phone.
- The American Psychological Association. They provide educational and support resources on a range of LGBTQ topics, including guidance for practitioners.