Thursday, October 27, 2011

Study Finds LGBT Youth Have Greater Risks to Educational and Health Outcomes

New research findings reported in the October 2011 issue of Educational Researcher highlight differences between lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LBGT) and straight-identified youth in health outcomes and educational equity. University of Illinois scholars Joseph P. Robinson and Dorothy L Espelage, who conducted the research, found that "youths who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning are at a greater risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, victimization by peers, and elevated levels of unexcused absences from school."

For their research, Robinson and Espelage surveyed a large, population-based anonymous sample of more than 13,000 students spanning middle to high school in 30 schools in Dane County, Wisconsin. This sample was unique and more likely reflects "the full spectrum of LQBTQ students," they said, because it included middle school students, not just high school students, and students who identified themselves as transgender. "The sample recruitment methods did not specifically target sexual minority students," they added.

To read the full article from Medical News Today you can visit their website here. You can also find an interview with the authors of the study here and the full published article here (requires subscription to read more than the abstract).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Protecting Our LGBT Elders: An Overview of LGBT Aging Issues

By Jeff Krehely , Michael Adams | September 28, 2010

Earlier this year, Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Elders, or SAGE, and the Movement Advancement Project, or MAP, released "Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults" in partnership with the Center for American Progress, the American Society on Aging, and the National Senior Citizens Law Center. The report provides an overview of LGBT elders' unique needs and the policy and regulatory changes that are needed to adequately address them.

To follow up on that work, SAGE, MAP, and CAP have developed 11 policy briefs that provide more information on the issues raised in the report. This memo provides links to and summaries of these briefs. For a very fast summary of the issues at play, see the Facts at a Glance document.

Falling Through the Safety Net: This brief illustrates how policy and social barriers gradually tear away at the safety net for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, older adults—and how these inequities compound and reinforce each other, creating a dramatically different aging experience for LGBT older adults based solely on the different treatment they experience because they are not heterosexual. It explains that the barriers and inequality facing LGBT older adults stem from the effects of social stigmas and prejudice, their reliance on informal "families of choice" for care and support, and inequitable laws and programs that treat LGBT elders unequally. These barriers can prevent LGBT elders from achieving three key elements of successful aging: financial security, good health and health care, and social support and community engagement.

Social Security: LGBT older adults are not eligible for Social Security spousal benefits, survivor benefits, or death benefits. This disparate treatment is especially unjust because Social Security benefits are not freely given; they are based on the contributions people make throughout their working lives—and LGBT people work and pay into Social Security in the same manner as their heterosexual counterparts. The lack of equal Social Security benefits contributes to higher poverty rates among older same-sex couples and significantly reduces their retirement income, potentially leaving a surviving same-sex spouse without a living-wage income.

Medicaid: Medicaid generally pays for older Americans requiring long-term institutional or home-based care. Only individuals with low assets and income can qualify for Medicaid, but Medicaid qualification rules also include a series of "spousal impoverishment protections" that aim to prevent requiring a healthy spouse to live in poverty in order to qualify a sick spouse for Medicaid. Unfortunately, these spousal impoverishment protections do not apply to same-sex couples, which can leave the same-sex partner of a Medicaid recipient homeless, penniless, and without a living-wage income.

Pension Plans: LGBT older adults are often denied pension plan options that provide financial protections for a surviving partner—even though LGBT employees earn their pensions through the same hard work and financial contributions as their heterosexual counterparts. The lack of pension income can devastate a surviving partner in the event of a death, especially given that LGBT elders are poorer and less financially secure than American elders as a whole. Even when both partners are healthy, LGBT older adults are denied the peace of mind that comes from knowing that a surviving partner will receive an adequate living income upon the death of the pension holder.

Tax-Qualified Retirement Plans: Inheriting a tax-qualified retirement plan from a loved one can cost an LGBT person thousands of dollars per year in retirement income because of different treatment under the law. This inequity is especially significant given that LGBT elders are poorer and less financially secure than Americans as a whole.

Estate Tax and Inheritance Laws: Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, unless an LGBT elder has specific legal documents in place upon their death, state laws generally hand over financial decision-making and inheritance to spouses or blood relatives rather than domestic partners or families of choice. This means that surviving LGBT partners or other loved ones can be totally shut out of an inheritance, resulting in the loss of critical retirement savings, forfeiture of a family home, or impoverishment. Additionally, even when a surviving partner does inherit a deceased loved one's assets, inequitable tax treatment of same-sex couples can mean paying 45 percent in taxes on an inheritance that a surviving heterosexual spouse would inherit tax free.

Legal Barriers to Taking Care of Loved Ones: LGBT older adults confront many challenges their heterosexual counterparts do not face. Some of the most unconscionable are laws that stand in the way of LGBT people taking care of those they love, in life and in death. LGBT people are not granted family or medical leave to take care of a sick or terminally ill partner under federal law and most state laws. Furthermore, LGBT people could be excluded from medical decision making for a partner. Finally, upon the death of a partner, LGBT people are often denied making end-of-life decisions about last rites, funerals, and disposition of remains.

Exclusion from Aging Programs and Services: LGBT older adults often face harassment or hostility when accessing aging programs and when frequenting senior centers, volunteer centers or places of worship. Few aging service providers plan for, or conduct outreach to, the LGBT community—and few are prepared to address acts of discrimination aimed at LGBT elders by staff or other older people. This makes many LGBT older adults reluctant to access mainstream aging services, which increases their social isolation and negatively impacts their physical and mental health.

Inhospitable Health Care Environments: Older Americans are frequently dependent on the assistance of professional health care providers, whether home-based service providers or doctors, nurses, and staff at medical centers and long-term care facilities. LGBT older adults, who are less likely to be able to rely on family members for caregiving, often face hostile or unwelcoming health care providers, or might encounter staff members who are unfamiliar with the needs of the LGBT community. These experiences and fears can cause LGBT older adults to delay seeking necessary health care, sometimes indefinitely, and can lead to premature institutionalization in nursing homes and long-term care facilities due to fear of hostile in-home care providers.

Health Disparities: LGBT older adults experience health disparities across four general areas: access to health care, HIV/AIDS, mental health, and chronic physical conditions. Additionally, extra taxation on retiree health insurance benefits means that many LGBT elders simply cannot afford to receive retiree health insurance. This is especially problematic given that LGBT older adults face a wide range of physical health disparities that are generally unaddressed by governments or health care providers.

Rethinking Aging Laws for Today's Older Adults: Most federal and state safety net programs that support older adults are built around the presumption of a married heterosexual couple. This presumption simply does not match the reality of the lives of today's older adults. Almost one-third of the entire population aged 65 and older are widowed men and women, and 42 percent of women aged 65 and older and 59 percent of women aged 75 and older are widowed. Many heterosexual elders live in domestic partnerships, often because marrying or remarrying would result in unaffordable financial consequences. Just more than 4 percent of older adults (including those in religious orders and those who simply choose to remain single) were never married. Another 4 percent of older adults are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and may be single or in a legally recognized same-sex relationship. Policymakers need to examine ways to adapt laws and safety nets to help protect all of today's older adults. Many of the recommendations to help LGBT older adults would also improve the lives of heterosexual elders in domestic partnerships, or single and widowed heterosexual elders who are not able to rely on a spouse for financial or caretaking support.

These briefs—and the full report—offer a plan to help our nation better care for and serve its increasingly visible older LGBT population. Now is the time to make changes to laws, community services and attitudes, and health care practices to help elders improve their financial security, access culturally competent health care, and remain active and fully engaged members of their communities. All Americans deserve the chance to age with dignity, and solutions that help LGBT elders do so will help all Americans who are aging or face inequality.

Michael Adams is the Executive Director of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders and Jeff Krehely is Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress.

Posted at Center for American Progress http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/lgbt_aging.html

Reposted at http://keystothecloset.blogspot.com

We Non't Need fixed-Cast Your Vote Against "Reparative Therapy"

Electroshock therapy. Aversive conditioning using maggots. Induced vomiting.

These "treatments" may sound like a throwback to the dark ages. But according to a Task Force report, "Youth in the Crosshairs," these are just some of methods still used by hateful groups who believe these types of "reparative therapy" can "fix" homosexuality. The worst part? It's not uncommon for kids and teenagers to be forced into "reparative therapy" against their will, despite mountains of research showing that not only will it never work, it's harmful. Learn more about the history of this so-called therapy with our interactive timeline.

These groups need to hear the truth — LGBT people aren't broken, and we don't need to be fixed.

There are plenty of other things in the country that do need to be fixed — like, let's see, Washington? If you haven't voted yet for the things you think really need to be fixed do it today! We'll include your message in a letter to these frightening "reparative therapy" types, telling them to take their repair kits elsewhere.

It's been many years since the Task Force fought to change the American Psychiatric Association's classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. We won that fight, but groups like Focus on the Family and Exodus International continue to use "reparative therapy" to "prevent" homosexuality in young children and "convert" LGBT people into heterosexuals.

In fact, in just a few weeks, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality will hold its convention in Arizona, with workshops covering topics like "treatment of unwanted same-sex attraction and behaviors" and "psychoanalytic theories of heterosexual and homosexual development" in an attempt to make their efforts to "fix" LGBT people sound like real science. Of course, it's not. It's all sheer nonsense. Sheer, harmful nonsense.

Research conducted by the Task Force and countless other independent studies prove that "reparative therapy" leads to depression, isolation, low self-esteem and even attempted suicide. But these groups are more concerned with their anti-LGBT agenda (and making money selling their snake oil) than the facts.

They need to hear it loud and clear: We don't need to be fixed.

Haven't cast your vote for what really needs fixing? Do it today and we'll include your votes and messages in hand-delivered letters to groups like Exodus International, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America and Americans for the Truth about Homosexuality.

Vote by Halloween — that's when the Task Force will be tallying the totals and sending a strong message to these groups. Why Halloween?

Because "reparative therapy" isn't just ineffective; it's downright scary.
Thanks for your support.

Sincerely,

Rea Carey, Executive Director, posted by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Reposted at http://keystothecloset.blogspot.com,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Op-ed: If Lesbians Are More at Risk for Cancer, Do Something

The number of lesbians dying from cancer is both unacceptable and suspicious of a larger problem, argues the director for the National LGBT Cancer Network.
By Liz Margolies, op-ed contributor

Paula Ettlebrick died of ovarian cancer last week and a whole movement grieves her loss. Her beauty, passion, and intelligence do not come around very often. My close friend Adria died six years ago after a losing struggle with ovarian cancer and she was mourned by her lover, her son, an entire caseload of psychotherapy clients, and me. We played tennis together every Thursday at 1 p.m. for 15 years. Ruth, one of my best friends since college, died of ovarian cancer three years ago. I have not yet recovered.

I will skim over the story of Shirley — my friend of 30 years with two young children, a partner, and ovarian cancer — as well as the dozen women I love who are breast cancer survivors. Oh, yes, I have a friend with lung cancer, too.

This is an epidemic. Our leaders, our friends, our lovers are getting cancer at a disproportionate rate and no one seems to be up in arms about it. Yet.

There are no T-shirts, no slogans. We view each lesbian who gets diagnosed with cancer as a personal tragedy, not a national scourge. When we learn about Cynthia Nixon or Wanda Sykes getting breast cancer, we are upset, of course, but we think of them as unlucky individuals.

It is a plague, I tell you, and the cause is found not in differences between our bodies and those of our heterosexual sisters, but in the social conditions in which we live. We need to do something. Be loud. Angry. Big.

Only 5% to 10% of all cancers can be traced to heredity, like a broken BRCA gene. Most causes are unknown, but many are linked to behaviors that are more prevalent in the lesbian community. The stress and stigma of living as sexual minorities takes its toll on our bodies. More and more research supports the idea that experiencing prejudice leads directly to health problems. As a group, we also smoke more, drink more, and eat a less healthy diet — all of which increases our cancer risks.

Then, instead of being extra vigilant about cancer screenings, we avoid the health care system. A large Harris Interactive poll of primarily white, middle class and educated lesbians found that 75% of them, the more privileged subset of all lesbians, avoided or delayed health care. Imagine what the numbers would be for lesbians of color, those who are poor, less educated, gender non-conforming, undocumented.

In most of my life, 2 + 2 = 4. I count on that. Higher-cancer-risk plus lower-cancer-screening must equal both a higher incidence of the disease and cancer found at a more advanced stage. But because no cancer registries collect information about sexual orientation (or gender identity), we remain hidden in the data. So, I can’t prove we have more cancer. Yet.

Look around you right now. How many lesbians do you know with cancer? More than your heterosexual sister, I am sure.

And what are we doing about it? Helping out with childcare or transportation or food during a friend’s chemotherapy is not enough. After someone we love dies of cancer, mourning is essential but not enough.

When our gay brothers died of AIDS, we organized, we demanded, we shouted. It is time for us to do that for our lesbian sisters today. If Paula Ettlebrick’s work changed your life one tiny bit, do not just weep alone. Do not just write a condolence card. Write the card, but then stand up, be angry, demand that we not lose another lesbian, another lover, another movement leader to cancer.

The last time I spoke to Paula, about a month ago, she wanted to work with me to organize the first conference in this country addressing cancer in the LGBT community.

Here is my preliminary list of demands. Add yours in the comments section below.

1. Demand that all hospitals and all cancer registries collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity, so we can prove our rates are higher. Without this data, we will not get federal recognition and funding.

2. Demand that more research be funded on lesbian cancer risks. We need to know more and have studies with larger samples.

3. Demand that all health care facilities — including cancer screening and treatment services — make LGBT cultural competence training mandatory, making it safer for us to use these services in a timely way.

4. Demand that these services reserve budget money to reach out to our community, showing us it is safe for even gender-nonconforming lesbians and transgender guys to get respectfully screened for cervical cancer and breast cancer.

5. Demand that all oncologists learn about our sexuality so they can answer questions about our sexual practices post cancer treatment. Currently, they cannot.

6. Demand that all places that offer cancer support groups create one for LGBT survivors and caregivers, thereby improving the quality of life currently reported by lesbians and bisexual women after their cancer diagnosis.

7. Demand affordable health care for all, a system that does not require legal marriage to an employed partner to get coverage.

Until our demands are met — until it is safe and affordable to engage with the health care system — you may not want to go alone to the doctor. But, we must go. Go in pairs, go in packs.

If you love her, get her screened. Today.

Liz Margolies is the founder and executive director for the National LGBT Cancer Network.
Posted at http://www.advocate.com/Politics/Commentary/Op_ed_How_to_Prove_Lesbians_Are_More_at_Risk_for_Cancer/

Reposted at http://keystothecloset.blogspot.com,

A Progress Report on Gay Employee Health Benefits: The Cost of Geing Gay

By TARA SIEGEL BERNARD
Updated | 10/17/11 with new details in chart posted by HRC. Reposted at http://keystothecloset.blogspot.com

A look at the financial realities of same-sex partnerships.
A growing number of companies are covering the extra costs that same-sex couples pay for domestic partner benefits — and even more companies are thinking about it. So we've decided to keep track of who is doing what in a chart at the bottom of this post.

While many companies offer domestic partnership coverage — an important benefit on its own since same-sex couples' unions are not recognized by the federal government — some pioneering organizations are extending an even more generous policy. They're essentially reimbursing gay employees for the extra taxes they may incur as a result of that coverage, something that married heterosexual people don't have to worry about.

Why is this an issue? Gay and lesbian employees who are lucky enough to work at places that have domestic partner coverage are taxed on the value of those benefits (if the partner is not considered a dependent). A handful of companies cover those extra costs, but not until Google adopted that policy earlier this year did the movement to equalize benefits begin to gain traction. Apple is the latest boldface name to join the effort.
A provision within a draft of the health care overhaul bill would have eliminated the tax, but it was ultimately dropped. The Human Rights Campaign said it continued to work on getting a bill passed, but until that happens — if it ever does — employees or their employers must pay the extra tax. (Many companies will cover the costs only for same-sex partners, since opposite-sex couples have the option to marry.)

"Companies that are doing the right thing are doing so at a cost to themselves, and the simplest way to address this inequity is to have the law changed to support or make it easier for them to have equal benefits," said Daryl Herrschaft, director of the Human Rights Campaign's Workplace Project.

Several readers sent us tips on companies that decided to make the change, and they appear on the list below. We also called several large companies that publicly supported the legislation — as part of a coalition led by the Human Rights Campaign — and asked if they planned to adopt the policy, even in the absence of a law.

The biggest deterrent, of course, is the cost. Many companies support efforts to eliminate the tax altogether, but they're unwilling to cover the costs employees now face.

Roughly speaking, it would cost an employer about $2,000 to $2,500 to reimburse — or "gross up" – an employee who incurred extra taxes of $1,200 to $1,500, according to Joseph S. Adams, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery who specializes in employee benefits. The numbers will vary depending on several factors, including the employee's tax bracket and state of residence. This example assumes a 25 percent federal tax bracket (and includes rough estimates for state, local, and employment taxes for Social Security and Medicare, bringing the total rate to about 40 percent).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stonewall Columbus Supports National Latino Aids Awareness Day

Stonewall Columbus is proud to support the ninth annual observance of the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). It is a day of hope for the future of a world without AIDS.

In service to our LGBT Latino community, Stonewall Columbus will have a spanish translator present during free AIDS testing on Monday, October 17th from 1-6pm at The Center on High at 1160 N. High St, Columbus, OH 43201. (AIDS testing done in cooperation with Columbus Aids Task Force/AIDS Resource Center.) For more information call 614-299-7764 or visit www.stonewallcolumbus.org

Latinos Unite! Let’s Stay Healthy! Get Tested for HIV
Latinos Unidos y Saludables! Hazte la prueba de HIV
__________________________________________________________________
Stonewall Columbus serves the Central Ohio LGBT community by providing a community center and offering programming and services that enhance the well-being and visibility of our diverse community through discovery, affirmation and celebration. For more information http://www.nlaad.org

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest Post: Out of the Mouths of Babes

Many thanks to our very first Guest-Blogger!Sarah Powers is a freelance writer and mom of two. She lives in Arizona and blogs at Powers of Mine.

One of the objectives behind this here Friendfactor blog is to help straight friends of gay folks lighten up a little. Don’t worry about not knowing what to say or asking a silly question. Just say something, or go ahead and ask, and if it’s done in the spirit of friendship, it’s all good.

Usually well-meaning adults have these kinds of hang-ups in the first place because we’re worried either about hurting someone’s feelings or about looking stupid ourselves. But if there is one demographic who I can promise you does not give a crap about looking silly or making someone else uncomfortable, it’s KIDS.

Show me a preschooler and I’ll show you at least one parent who has experienced the agony of loudly stated observations like, “Mommy! That lady has a baby in her tummy!” (when ‘that lady’ is a stout 55-year-old) or “Hey! Is that guy a football player?” (because he happens to be black) or “Is that a man or a lady?” (and you’re not actually sure of the answer yourself).

As a parent in these moments, it’s easy to want to shove the nearest handful of goldfish crackers into the mouth of your precious offspring. I believe, though, that while doing so saves on a little short-term embarrassment, it also deprives both child and parent of a valuable opportunity for discussion.

Here are some ideas for parents and friends of curious little minds on how to answer kids’ questions about gay friends and family members (or just your average same-sex couple holding hands on the street):

■Make it okay to ask. Always. No matter how inappropriate or embarrassing the comment or question (Hey! That lady is dressed like Daddy but she has huge boobs!), answer it. Yep! Isn’t it cool how men and women have so many choices about how they dress and who they hang out with?

■Keep it age-appropriate. A three-year-old isn’t thinking about sex when she asks about a classmate who has two daddies. Find out what she’s curious about, and use the opportunity to share simple things about what you believe: A lot of grown-ups fall in love with somebody and choose to get married and have kids. Sometimes it’s two mommies or two daddies, and sometimes it’s one of each like in our family.

■Don’t assume that generalizing means bias. Comments like, You can’t marry your friend Lucy – she’s a girl. That’s weird! don’t mean a child is homophobic – only that his worldview is limited. Give him a break; he’s FIVE. Don’t overreact, but do use it as a chance to say things like, Actually, you guys are lucky that when you get to be grown-ups you’ll get to marry whomever you choose to love!

■Prep your gay friends. If you’re worried about your little chatterbox saying something in the company of your gay friends that will leave everyone staring into their latte foam, have a little pow-wow first. Just say, Hey, Ava is really curious about people and the world right now. I think she’s started to notice that your relationship is different than others she’s been exposed to, so just a heads up if she asks you some questions.

■Lighten up. Chances are, you’re going to be embarrassed once or twice on the parenting journey. Guess what? You’ll be the one embarrassing your kid in ten years. Wanting to raise open-minded and sensitive future citizens is one thing; drilling them on socially acceptable LGBT terminology at the dinner table is another. In this case the most important thing you can do is to model kindness. To everybody. All the time. End of story.
Preschoolers’ brains are primed to notice differences (remember that Sesame Street jingle? One of these things is not like the other…): colors, shapes, numbers, patterns, and, yes, demographics we’re not always comfortable discussing. Is the message we want to send that observing and discussing (and the next step, accepting) differences in people is somehow wrong? That while we teach tolerance in schools and pay lip service to equal rights, that simply pointing out an obvious difference, without any judgment or disrespect, is around the same place on the taboo continuum as passing gas in public?

Because that’s what they’ll learn. They’ll learn not to ask questions or make innocent observations. They’ll hear us say that differences are to be celebrated, but see in our flushed and hurried expressions that we don’t actually want to talk about them in public. They’ll learn that they’re supposed to accept, but may never really understand what it is they’re accepting. And then we’ll be right back where we started, in a forum like this one for people who want to support their friends but are afraid of saying the wrong thing.

So, let’s leave the next generation better of than we are, shall we? Let’s teach them to be sensitive and politically correct, but on top of those things let’s free them from the fear of saying the wrong thing by embracing their questions and answering them honestly right from the start. So that 25 years from now they won’t need the Friendfactor blog; they’ll just need their friends.

Reposted from Friendfactor.

Monday, October 10, 2011

National Coming Out Day Support from HRC

Donate your Facebook status for National Coming Out Day!
Whether you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or a straight ally, be proud of who you are and your support for LGBT equality this Coming Out Day!

Use HRC's Coming Out for Equality Facebook app to show your support and spread a message of equality to your friends and family. It's the courage to come out as an active voice for LGBT equality that will result in real political and social change.

New ways to come out for equality will be added each week leading up to October 11.

About the App
Once you add the app, select one of the "Actions to Take" to get started! After completing each action, be sure to claim your equality (EQ) badge and encourage others to get involved by sharing your badge on Facebook, inviting your friends and family to take action and tweeting with the #comingout hashtag.

We can't do this alone, but together we can make a difference. Recruit your friends and family to Come Out for Equality and earn a badge for your efforts.

Learn about Coming Out Day
•History of National Coming Out Day

Living Openly
However you identify, HRC and its Coming Out Project hope these guides help you meet the challenges and opportunities that living openly offers to each of us:

•Find coming out guides and other resources
•Order publications in bulk via the HRC Shop get 20% off

Are You a Straight Ally?
Check out A Straight Guide to LGBT Americans to learn about the emotional spectrum that people typically feel after someone comes out to them and find easy ways to learn more and demonstrate your support for LGBT Americans and equality.

•Download the guide

The History of Coming Out: In the Beginning There Was a March

On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in our nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGĂ“) and AT&T’s LGBT employee group, LEAGUE.

The momentum continued four months after this extraordinary march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg, a founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O'Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.

To this day National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBT individuals to live truthfully and openly.

Printed on HRC website. Reprinted at keystothecloset.blogspot.com

Friday, October 7, 2011

Medicaid Coverage for Transgender Surgery Considered in NY

According to a September 29, 2011, Forbes article, a panel in New York is considering a proposed program that will provide Medicaid coverage for surgery and hormone replacement therapy for low-income, transgender New York residents. If approved, New York will join California and Minnesota in providing this coverage.

Repostyed at http://keystothecloset.blogspot.com 10/6/2011

WPATH Releases Revised "Standards of Care"

On September 25, 2011, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released a newly-revised edition of the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People at the WPATH conference in Atlanta.

First published in 1979, the Standards of Care (SOC) is considered the standard document of reference on caring for the transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming population. The newly-revised, 7th edition SOC will help health professionals better understand how they can offer the most effective care to these individuals. The SOC focuses on primary care, gynecologic and urologic care, reproductive options, voice and communication therapy, mental health services and hormonal and surgical treatment.

Posted by LGBT Health Digest.
Reposted at http://keystothecloset.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 6, 2011

National Safe Schools Day for LGBTQ Youth

by Emilia Dunham, Program Associate Posted at http://lgbthealthequity.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/national-safe-schools-day-for-lgbtq-youth/ Reposted at http://keystothecloset.blogspot.com

Today we’d like to raise awareness for an important campaign by Safe Schools Action Network: National Safe Schools Day. As you likely know there were quite a few highly publicized LGBTQ youth suicides as a result of anti-LGBTQ bullying clustered around this time last year, which makes this day so important. You probably all know the facts about Health Risks of LGBT kids including the obscene statistics about high suicide rates among LGB, and especially T people.

It’s of some relief to know that the government is starting to respond with supportive policies and recommendations. At a Network we do our best to support LGBTQ youth in our policy advocacy, trainings, supporting you in your efforts, hosting LGBTQ youth initiatives, action alerts, and youth focused funding technical assistance calls. However, sometimes it’s useful to provide resources with what people can do directly, which is just what Safe Schools is doing and why we gladly support their efforts.

Take Action
The Safe Schools Action Network website hosts many ways to get involved, provides resources for LGBTQ youth, and lists many ways to take action such as:
• Send a Letter/Email to a School, Community Leader or Local Newspaper Editor
• Speak with your representatives in government to support LGBTQ youth
• Work with your schools to educate and create task forces for LGBTQ youth
• Talk with neighbors, friends, co-workers and families
• Be a mentor to an LGBTQ youth

Make it Personal
Some of you already do great work, but we should all push ourselves to do one extra thing this month for the youth. For me, I’ve decided to contact my old school district, asking for them to support LGBTQ youth. Like many LGBTQ people, when I was growing up I was bullied quite a bit. Well before I even came out, peers directed homophobic and transphobic taunts and slurs at me on a regular basis, and I became very depressed and isolated for feeling so different from my straight, gender conforming peers. When I did come out in high school, it felt good to be myself, but bullying got more defined. However, my school’s administration was very supportive of me and were there when I needed them. Looking back, I consider myself lucky to have had such support in a small, conservative town and I’m not sure if I would here today if it wasn’t for that support. Therefore I am resolved to write a letter to my school thanking them for their support and asking them for their continued support of transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer and questioning students.

So whatever you do, whether you’re making it personal or taking action because it’s the right thing, please do something for the youth.

Make it a Commitment
All of October is Bullying Prevention Month too, so for the next few weeks, please make a committment to support LGBTQ youth.