Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kicking off LGBT Health Month!

Post by Jonathan Lang, Director of Governmental Projects and Community Development

The New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health and Human Services Network and the New York State Senate are celebrating March as LGBT Health Month. Today, members of the Network met with media, community members and legislators at a kick-off event and information session in Albany to discuss the healthcare and related needs of the LGBT community. A disproportionate number of LGBT New Yorkers suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, and a lack of social support. As one of the Network’s goals, a culturally competent healthcare system will go a long way in helping LGBT individuals secure the services they need. State funding has been absolutely vital to Network organizations, many of which have suffered from the economic downturn and must fight to continue providing their services to those who need them the most.

Senator Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), the only gay member of the Senate, also presented Network members with a Senate resolution commemorating LGBT health Month at an event in Albany on Tuesday morning.

Network organizations have often been asked to do more with less, but now the demand is exceeding the resources and we are faced this year with the need to cut back, and thereby allow more individuals to fall through the cracks of the healthcare system.

“Funding from the state remains a critical source of support for many Network organizations, with over half of them reporting that more than three quarters of their operating budget was made up of state dollars,” said Chad Putman, Board President for Rainbow Access Initiative, Inc., a Network member.

“A 2009 needs assessment showed that LGBT communities face a huge array of health-related problems. LGBT New Yorkers are disproportionately affected by a host of issues including mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, social isolation and hate violence. In addition, LGBT communities are often placed at a severe disadvantage due to the lack of culturally-competent healthcare and social services,” said Wendy Stark, Executive Director of Callen-Lorde. “While Callen-Lorde and other Network member organizations throughout the State work tirelessly to fill these gaps, the large numbers of uninsured LGBT New Yorkers, coupled with declines in funding, create tremendous challenges for us all.”

Stay tuned for ways to get involved in LGBT Health Month and promote good health for you and your community.

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