Today, we released a first-ever assessment of LGBT health and human service needs in New York State. Ross Levi, our Director of Public Policy & Education,and Somjen Frazer, the report’s author and a Brooklyn-based researcher with expertise in LGBT issues, weigh in on some of the reports findings:
As researchers and advocates, we know that the LGBT community has unmet health and human services needs. LGBT people lag behind on seven of the ten targets set by the U.S. government to improve health nationally. We also fall behind on the New York City Take Care New York indicators. However, the disadvantage goes beyond health and human service needs—LGBT people in New York State have never before been asked about WHY these gaps exist and HOW our lives are affected.
This lack of specific information on our community is not just an academic problem; policymakers, especially those in government, demand real numbers to document the existence of problems and decide how to allocate resources to address them. In short, in this context as with so many things, knowledge equals power.
Thanks to funding from the New York State Department of Health, we have spent the last six months surveying nearly 3,500 LGBT New Yorkers, interviewing 60 experts in health and human service needs, and analyzing existing data and research. The report from this needs assessment, LGBT Health and Human Service Needs in New York State, provides hard, scientifically valid data on what our community needs for its health and well being.
This report is the first of its kind, and the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation is excited to share some of the key findings and recommendations. In our research, done in close collaboration with the NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Network, we asked LGBT people who took our survey to tell us what THEY thought was the most pressing health and human services need in New York State; we have included some of their responses as well as our survey results.
A need for culturally competent care
As one lesbian participant said, “I would love to go to an LGBT-friendly doctor, but I don’t know where to find one. . . . It seems to be a very common problem.” 40% of LGBT people say there are not enough health professionals who are adequately trained and competent to deliver healthcare to LGBT people. 27% fear that if medical personnel found out that they are LGBT that they would be treated differently.
Increase in services for homeless LGBT youth and adults
“Housing is healthcare,” as one key expert who works with urban African American, Caribbean and Latino/a youth explained. 14% of LGBT people, and one-third of transgender New Yorkers, are or have been homeless at one time.
An expansion of social programs, especially for rural and older LGBT people
As one staff member at an urban LGBT health organization put it: “We see a huge desire among gay men for a community connection. . . . Those who have a connection to a community have better health.” Studies consistently find that socially isolated people have worse health outcomes. Social isolation is a significant problem for LGBT people, with two-thirds of rural LGBT residents saying they feel isolated from others, and over half of LGBT seniors saying they sometimes or always lack companionship. For youth, living in a rural environment requires safe and accessible transportation to these services.
Violence is an ongoing problem for LGBT people
The executive director of an LGBT center said, “I run into so many people that are used to being treated crappy, they don’t even report it.” 13% of LGBT people had experienced a serious homophobic or transphobic physical or sexual assault and only about a quarter of those who had been hit, punched or kicked in a homophobic assault had reported it.
For more information and to read the report, click here.