As the end of June and of Pride Month draws to a close, it's important to reflect not just on how far the LGBT+ community has come, but also how far there is to go. One of the key issues still affecting queer people everywhere is healthcare.
Healthcare access has often been restricted for queer people. From being denied funding to being actively mistreated by the healthcare system, such as in famous cases like Allen Turing’s, the healthcare community has a dark past of trampling queer people’s rights.Today, that discrimination continues with actions by the Trump administration to give private businesses, like many insurance companies and health businesses, freedom to discriminate against LGBT+ people.
But there are many groups advocating for access of LGBT+ folks to healthcare, working for a more equal and kind world. To find out some of the amazing organizations dedicated to fighting injustice, check out the list below.
The Fenway Institute
The Fenway Institute has been at the forefront of fighting for LGBT+ healthcare since its founding in 1971. Originally a small community organization for health and wellness focused on seniors and gay people, the Institute now serves over 100,000 people each year. Operating primarily in the New England area, the Fenway Institute supports research, education initiatives to optimize health care given by providers for the LGBT+ community and launched the LGBT Aging Project in 2001 to advocate for programs focused on elderly members of the community. In addition, they continue to agitate for funding of research devoted to HIV/AIDS, as well as compassionate treatment of individuals diagnosed with the disease.
The Trevor Project
Focused on providing mental health support to youth, the Trevor Project has been a leading organization working towards suicide prevention for LGBT+ young people. According to one study, “population-based surveys of U.S. adolescents that have included questions about sexual orientation have consistently found rates of reported suicide attempts to be two to seven times higher in high school students who identify as LGB, compared to those who describe themselves as heterosexual.” The Trevor Project is working to support youth in ciris via the hotline, text, and chat options they offer. They also work with community organizations to provide workshops that teach suicide prevention training and other resources. From producing guides on how to talk about suicide in LGBT+ spaces, to working on research initiatives and fundraising opportunities with celebrities like the Queer Eye’s Fab Five, the Trevor project aims to create a world where LGBT+ suicide rates can be reduced.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Often forgotten in considering LGBT+ relationship health is that domestic violence and abuse can occur in any type of relationship. Bisexual men and women are more likely than their heterosexual and homosexual counterparts to experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. High estimates put the lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence at 26.9 percent, though other estimates are as low as 3.1 percent. Either way, violence affects queer relationships intimately, whether it be from a partner or a family member. Organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline cater to people of all sexual orientations and relationships and provide training and guidelines that specifically identify examples of abuse within LGBT+ relationships.
Heartbreakingly, LGBT+ people are more likely to have a substance abuse disorder than the general public. Due to societal rejection, family issues, and problems like greater stigma about drug use and higher prevalence of homelessness, recognizing a problem and seeking treatment can be very difficult. Additionally, many substance abuse treatment centers are not prepared to deal with the unique experience of LGBT+ addiction. Fortunately, organizations like NALGAP work with addiction services and health care providers to create programming that speaks specifically to the LGBT+ experience and needs.
National LGBT Cancer Network
The National LGBT Cancer Network works to educate, advocate and encourage research into how cancer disproportionately affects the LGBT+ community. Queer people are less likely to have health insurance but at greater risk for certain cancers linked to behaviors more common in the LGBT+ community, like heavy drinking, smoking or STI/STD prevalence. Also, for transgender individuals, providers do not properly understand the trans body and little research has been done to explore how hormone therapy may change cancer rates. The National LGBT Cancer Network provides resources about screening and prevention for LGBT+ people, while also working to teach providers and other cancer survivor organizations to be culturally sensitive and inclusive.
National Coalition for the Homeless
20 to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT+. Without familial support and facing historical housing and employment discrimination, homelessness deeply affects many LGBT+ people. Allegations of anti-LGBT+ discrimination by organizations like the Salvation Army have created further uncertainty and fear. But the National Coalition for the Homeless, in addition to fighting homelessness for all, advocates for increased safety and community building for LGBT+ youths to correct the current situation.
Pride is about more than just celebrating LGBT+ existence. It also gives us the opportunity to reflect on how the situation can be improved. One of the most important things allies can do is volunteer or donate to one of these amazing organizations, and help make the world a more diverse, safe place for queer people across America.