LGBTQ+ and allied organizations release an open letter about COVID-19 and health inequities

Fierce Pride has signed on to this open letter urging public health authorities, health care institutions, government agencies and policymakers to address the following concerns:

  • Ensuring Nondiscrimination in Health Care Settings.
  • Documenting and Reporting the Impact of COVID on LGBTQ+ Communities.
  • Protecting the Economic Health of LGBTQ+ People.

The full text as follows:

 

For Immediate Release

April 21, 2020

Contact:

Scout, 401-267-8337, scout@cancer-network.org or

Jewel Addy, 202-204-5531,  jaddy@whitman-walker.org

LGBTQ+ AND ALLIED ORGANIZATIONS ISSUE SECOND OPEN LETTER URGING DECISIVE ACTION TO PREVENT COVID-19 DISCRIMINATION

170 Organizations Highlight Need for Nondiscrimination, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Data Collection, and More Help for Economically Devastated Communities

Washington, DC – One hundred and seventy national, state and local LGBTQ+ and allied organizations have joined in a second open letter to health and policy leaders highlighting the importance of measures to prohibit discrimination in COVID-19 treatment and prevention, and clear communication of those measures and policies to better serve the health needs of marginalized communities with histories of discriminatory encounters with the medical and public health systems. The letter also urges medical providers and public health authorities to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data for COVID-19 cases in addition to data on race, ethnicity, age, sex and disability, in order to document and address the pandemic’s impact on minority communities. The signing organizations also emphasize the urgent need for more robust relief for lower-income individuals and families, and for persons who are dependent on lower-paying jobs in hospitality and other industries which are being decimated by the pandemic.

“We are in the middle of an unprecedented global health crisis – and we cannot afford to leave anyone behind,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “As our work continues to get families and communities the resources they need to survive, we must ensure that protecting LGBTQ+ communities is a core part of our country’s response to COVID-19. Ensuring non-discrimination has and always will be a priority for me, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to make that a reality.”

“LGBTQ people have increased risk factors for COVID-19, including higher HIV and cancer rates, higher rates of smoking, and increased risk of homelessness,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who serves as Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and recently led a letter urging data collection. “We must ensure that the LGBTQ community has access to the resources it needs to face this pandemic, including quality, non-judgmental, and affordable healthcare, as well as unemployment benefits for every impacted industry, including the service and entertainment sectors. We also must collect data to understand how the LGBTQ+ community is being impacted by COVID-19.”

“Whitman-Walker and other community health centers that care for LGBTQ+ patients and others in marginalized communities have many patients who are understandably fearful of neglect or mistreatment in this pandemic,” said Laura Durso, PhD, Chief Learning Officer of the Whitman-Walker Institute. “Many of our patients work in lower-paying jobs that are particularly vulnerable in this crisis. We are committed to protecting those who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s economic devastation.”

“Early surveillance has shown how health disparities create very different outcomes for vulnerable populations,” notes Scout, PhD, the Deputy Director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, “which shows us how important it is to add LGBTQ data collection to COVID-19 surveillance.”

These organizations call on public health authorities, medical providers and government agencies to reinforce safeguards against discrimination; to foster collaborative relationships with LGBTQ+ service providers and advocates; to collect important data on patients, including sexual orientation and gender identity; and to expand the economic relief and legal protections needed by individuals and families particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

The letter was initiated by a coalition of six organizations: The Whitman-Walker Institute; the National LGBT Cancer Network; GLMA Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality; SAGE; New York Transgender Advocacy Group; and National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance. The full letter text, full signer list, and additional organizational response resources can be found online at this link: https://cancer-network.org/coronavirus-2019-lgbtq-info.

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About the National LGBT Cancer Network

The National LGBT Cancer Network runs a CDC funded public health network focused on eliminating tobacco and cancer health disparities. Due to the disproportionate impact COVID-19 will have on our population as a result of increased smoking and cancer rates, the Network has been actively creating resources for LGBTQ+ organizations to help respond to this unprecedented public health crisis. Learn more at cancer-network.org.

About Whitman-Walker

Whitman-Walker operates a community-centered enterprise that provides primary medical care, behavioral health care, dental care, and a range of health-related legal and support services, with specialties in LGBTQ+ and HIV care, to more than 20,000 individuals and families annually in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan region. The Whitman-Walker Institute was established to support the needs of our patients, and the communities at the heart of our mission, with clinical and behavioral health research, public policy advocacy on the national, regional and local levels, and clinical and community education. Learn more at www.whitman-walker.org.

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