Breaking News! NY Hospitals Announce Mandatory LGBT Cultural Competency Trainings

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) President Alan D. Aviles, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and National LGBT Cancer Network Executive Director Liz Margolies today announced the launch of a mandatory employee training program that will improve access to healthcare for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and help to reduce health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identification.  The training will teach staff to provide respectful, patient-centered and culturally competent healthcare services to thousands of LGBT New Yorkers who are served by the public hospitals, community health centers and nursing homes every year.   The landmark curriculum was launched at Bellevue Hospital at a presentation and special screening of a new training video, “To Treat Me, You Have to Know Who I Am,”  before LGBT consumers, LGBT community advocates, healthcare providers and elected officials.

To have the head of all NYC public hospitals reinforce that LGBT cultural competency trainings are a mandatory part of good healthcare is historic, let’s hope other cities and hospitals soon follow! See their press release here.

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Doctors lack data on LGBT community: report

By Lauren Keiper

BOSTON (Reuters) – Gaping holes exist in data on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and more research into their lifestyles is needed for medical authorities to better serve them, a report released on Thursday shows.

The report, authored by the Institute of Medicine and commissioned by the National Institutes of Health, found a staggering lack of research on LGBT individuals.

It lays the groundwork to close that information gap, suggesting more research into social influences, barriers to equitable health care and the differing needs of various generations of LGBT people.

“This is a sea change in establishing the scientific importance of research in LGBT health,” said Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University and a contributor to the report.

The report summarized what many experts already know about the population, including that LGB youths are at increased risk for suicide and depression, that HIV-AIDS primarily affects young black men who have sex with other men and that LGBT people are frequently targets of discrimination and violence.

Most practitioners, however, are not well educated in how to care for the LGBT population, including understanding sexual orientation development, gender identity and the impact of stigma and discrimination on health, the report said.

Read more here.


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Victory! New York City Adopts Policy Ensuring Transgender People Equal Access to Marriage Licenses

This just in from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund:

We are happy to announce that the city of New York has adopted a new policy designed to ensure that transgender people have equal access to marriage licenses. The policy was adopted as part of an agreement to resolve threatened legal action involving a transgender couple. The couple wishes to remain private and we refer to them as Jane and John.

Jane and John are both transgender. They are an opposite-sex couple who have been in a relationship for over a decade. In Dec. 2009, they attempted to marry in the Bronx. They fulfilled all of the requirements for receiving a marriage license in New York City and presented their government-issued photo identification – the only identification required by the City Clerk’s office. Rather than issuing the marriage license, the City Clerk refused and instead demanded that Jane and John produce their birth certificates before they could be married – something not required of other marriage license applicants.

Under the terms of the new policy, issued on Feb. 7, 2011, once a marriage license applicant produces the required photo ID, the City Clerk may not request additional proof of sex. Moreover, City Clerk employees are forbidden from considering the applicant’s appearance or preconceived notions related to gender expression when deciding whether to issue a marriage license.

“Transgender people are challenged all the time about their status as men and women,” said TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman. “Our clients are legally entitled to marry and were denied that right just because they are transgender. We applaud the City Clerk’s office for adopting this policy and for taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again.”

In addition to the adoption of the new policy, the agreement to resolve the couple’s claims calls for the City Clerk to apologize to Jane and John, to institute training for all City Clerk employees on issues relating to gender identity and gender expression, and to ensure that Jane and John are free to marry at a time and place of their choosing.

In addition to TLDEF, the legal team on this matter included Carmine Boccuzzi, David Brown and Nathan Horst of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. We are grateful for their assistance.

Thank you for your support of our work. We will continue to update you on this and other case developments.

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SAVE THE DATE: LGBT Health Awareness Week, March 28-April 1

The National Coalition for LGBT Health recently announced “Come Out for Health” as this year’s theme for LGBT Health Awareness Week.  “Come Out for Health” is a call to action for community members, advocates, service providers, and governmental officials to recognize health and wellness as an essential part of the social justice movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

GLMA is a member of the National Coalition for LGBT Health and is on the planning committee for 2011 LGBT Health Awareness Week.

Information: In the coming weeks, the Coalition will launch its 2011 webpage with information about this year’s promotional posters, factsheets, resources, and other materials.  For updates and to learn more about the National Coalition for LGBT Health, visit their website at

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DOJ to Stop Defending Section 3 of DOMA

In a 2/23/2011 release by the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would no longer defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act which, for federal purposes, defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Information: For the complete press release, go to “Statement of the Attorney General on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act” on the Department of Justice website.

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Large Corporations Expand Insurance Coverage to Meet Needs of Transgender Workers

As reported in The New York Times on 2/21/2011, more U.S. companies, including “leading Wall Street and Main Street brands” such as Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup and Walt Disney, are now among 85 large businesses and law firms that provide transgender-inclusive health coverage, including the costs of sex-reassignment surgeries.

Information: Click here to read the New York Times article.

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California State Senator Introduces LGBT Cultural Competency for Health Care Providers Bill

Equality California reported on 2/18/2011 that Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) introduced SB 747, a bill sponsored by Equality California, which would provide LGBT people with “…a safe and welcoming environment when being cared for in hospitals, medical offices, or mental health facilities. If passed, the bill would require regulatory boards that license or certify health care personnel to mandate continuing medical education (CME) or equivalent educational training on LGBT cultural competency in health care.”

Read or download GLMA’s “Guidelines for Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Patients”, a guide containing a detailed approach for healthcare providers to understand healthcare disparities affecting LGBT populations and how they can create welcoming clinical environments for LGBT patients.

Information: Go to “EQCA Sponsors New LGBT Healthcare Bill” for the complete Equality California article.

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New Resource Supports Faith Community Engagement on HIV/AIDS

As has been frequently observed, the job of implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy does not fall to the Federal Government alone, nor should it. Successfully achieving the Strategy’s important life-saving goals requires the commitment of all parts of society, including the nation’s rich diversity of faith communities. In fact, the Federal Implementation Plan calls upon the Department of Health and Human Services to work with Centers for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships across the U.S. government to develop a plan for engaging more faith leaders to promote support for people living with HIV. Last Fall, we described our initial efforts to foster the engagement of faith communities in these important activities through our collaboration with the Centers for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and Education.

Our churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and other faith communities are uniquely positioned to contribute to the broad-based national effort underway to reverse the course of the HIV epidemic in America. Many faith communities have been involved in important HIV education, prevention, testing, and care efforts from the early days of the epidemic. To realize the promise of the Strategy’s goals, however, we need even more faith communities to engage in such efforts.

Read more here.

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Greater Than AIDS: Deciding Moments

What is Deciding Moments?

Deciding Moments are everyday opportunities to take a stand against HIV – to be “greater than” the disease. It may be walking into a clinic and asking to be tested, buying (and using) condoms, correcting a piece of misinformation, talking with your child, or keeping up with your medications. Through these simple acts, we help to stop the spread of HIV. And, by each of us doing our part, we can collectively change the course of this epidemic.

This idea inspired the latest series of public service ads from Greater Than AIDS Exit Disclaimer, a national movement to respond to the AIDS crisis in the United States, in particular the severe and disproportionate epidemic among Black Americans. The Deciding Moments Exit Disclaimer campaign features real-life stories from individuals across the country, including those living with HIV and their loved ones, who share their own “Deciding Moments” in the hopes of inspiring others.

Read more here.

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Secretary Sebelius Asks HHS to Sustain NHAS Momentum

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius recently sent an important communication to the Department’s leadership regarding HHS-wide efforts to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The message, sent in late January, reiterated that the implementation of the NHAS is a priority for HHS. Secretary Sebelius reminded the heads of her operating divisions and staff divisions that even prior to the release of the NHAS, the HHS Strategic Plan FY2010-2015 had committed the Department to “prevent(ing) the spread of HIV infection…increase(ing) efforts to make people aware of their status…and enable(ing) them to access HIV care and treatment using innovative, culturally appropriate means.”

For more information: read here.

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