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Historic inclusion of LGBT people in federal blueprint for health policy

BOSTON -- It was a historic day in Boston yesterday, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services not only unveiled their blueprint and policy goals for the next decade, but made the bold step of making it LGBT inclusive.

Healthy People 2020 has included gays and lesbians and bisexuals in the past, but this time, it includes transgender. In addition, LGBT health has been included as one of the 42 special topic areas listed within the document. This means the specific health disparities that affect LGBT people are finally being recognized and acknowledged.

This ground breaking change came after a decade of documentation regarding the health challenges specific to LGBT persons.

Dr. Judith Bradford and Dr. Scout, representing the The Fenway Institute have been leading advocates for LGBT inclusion in the Healthy People document. Both attended the public launch of Healthy People 2020 this week.

Issues discussed in the LGBT topic area include the impact of discrimination, the LGBT's resiliency, the importance of widespread cultural competency, and the need for both routine and comprehensive data collention on sexual orientation and gender identify.

"LGBT people face a variety of specific health disparities and federal recognition is an important first step in addressing those disparities," said Bradford, Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute and Director of the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health.

"Healthy People 2020 is a historic document; it moves us forward in our ability to enrich the knowledge base of LGBT Health issues," she continued. "The DHHS has ultimately acted to ensure that resources will be available for programs, services and research. Because of the tireless advocacy by community and academic organizations, as well as The National Coalition for LGBT Health and The Fenway Institute, we have made significant progress."

Although this document is a clear advance, supporters still say more needs to be done to insure continued and increased inclusion.

"These are wonderful gains. The inclusion of transgender people, the formation of the Health and Human Services LGBT Workgroup for HP2020, and the creation of a new LGBT topic area is more than we initially expected." says Dr. Scout, Director of the Network for LGBT Health Equity at The Fenway Institute.

"The one page summary of this document clearly lists their commitment to eliminating disparities for all LGBT people. There’s still work to be done, but today was the single largest step forward for LGBT health in years.”

About Fenway Health and the Fenway Institute

For nearly forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population.  The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues.  Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center is dedicated to providing the best quality health care for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else.  More about all of our programs and services can be found at www.fenwayhealth.org.

For more information about Healthy People 2020, click HERE.