Improve the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals.
Research suggests that LGBT individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. Experiences of violence and victimization are frequent for LGBT individuals, and have long-lasting effects on the individual and the community. Personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity affects the mental health and personal safety of LGBT individuals.
Why Is LGBT Health Important?
Eliminating LGBT health disparities and enhancing efforts to improve LGBT health are necessary to ensure that LGBT individuals can lead long, healthy lives. The many benefits of addressing health concerns and reducing disparities include:
- Reductions in disease transmission and progression
- Increased mental and physical well-being
- Reduced health care costs
- Increased longevity
Efforts to improve LGBT health include:
- Curbing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) with interventions that work.
- Implementing anti-bullying policies in schools.
- Providing supportive social services to reduce suicide and homelessness risk among youth.
- Appropriately inquiring about and being supportive of a patient’s sexual orientation to enhance the patient-provider interaction and regular use of care.
Efforts to address health disparities among LGBT persons include:
- Establishment of LGBT health centers
- Dissemination of effective HIV/STD interventions
A note on terminology
The term “LGBT” is commonly used as shorthand for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. It is important to note that while these groups may share some similarities, they are by no means identical in terms of their mental health issues, concerns, or needs.
While the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual (and heterosexual) refer to someone’s sexual orientation, transgender is a term related to gender identity, or someone’s sense of being a man or woman, boy or girl. Transgender people are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, and bisexual.
The term gay typically refers to a man who is romantically and emotionally attracted to other men.
Lesbian (or gay woman) refers to a woman who is romantically and emotionally attracted to other women.
Bisexual refers to someone who is romantically and emotionally attracted to men and women. Being bisexual does not necessarily mean someone is involved in multiple relationships at once.
Some men and women may engage in same-sex behavior yet still identify as heterosexual, and some lesbian or gay people may have sexual relationships with people of the other sex. It is important not to make assumptions or judge people when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Finally, LGBT people are just as diverse as everyone else! We are old, young, rich, poor, parents, children, friends, co-workers, and on and on. Just like people with mental illness, LGBT people are everywhere and in every community!