LGBTQI+ health matters
In his recent statement marking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, And Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month 2022, President Biden said:
Today, the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans are under relentless attack. Members of the LGBTQI+ community — especially people of color and trans people — continue to face discrimination and cruel, persistent efforts to undermine their human rights. An onslaught of dangerous anti-LGBTQI+ legislation has been introduced and passed in States across the country, targeting transgender children and their parents and interfering with their access to health care. These unconscionable attacks have left countless LGBTQI+ families in fear and pain. All of this compounded has been especially difficult on LGBTQI+ youth, 45 percent of whom seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year — a devastating reality that our Nation must work urgently to address.
The president also said:
… I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will enshrine long overdue civil rights protections and build a better future for all LGBTQI+ Americans. …
This month, we honor the resilience of LGBTQI+ people, who are fighting to live authentically and freely. We reaffirm our belief that LGBTQI+ rights are human rights. And we recommit to delivering protections, safety, and equality to LGBTQI+ families so that everyone can realize the full promise of America.
As with so many human rights and civil rights issues that get obscured by politics, LGBTQI+ rights must be affirmed, upheld and defended by all who would claim to agree with the principle that all human beings are created equal. In public health broadly, and in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, specifically, we are committed to equity. We recognize that discrimination and denial of equitable access to rights and resources are incompatible with health and well-being. We continue to focus on increasing awareness, knowledge, understanding, support and advocacy for LGBTQI+ people and their rights. Our faculty, staff, students and alumni are doing important work in this area, including on equal access to health care, prevention of disease and violence, and health promotion.
As a school community, we also benefit from the outstanding resources of the UNC-Chapel Hill LGBTQ Center, including training on Safe Zone; Safe Zone Gender Identity & Gender Expression; Health Care Safe Zone; Safe Zone Continuing Education (on specific aspects of LGBTIQA+ identity, including bisexuality, intersex, transgender and nonbinary, and queer) and Safe Zone Facilitator. These training programs are designed to increase awareness, knowledge and support around sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and to “develop a network of community and campus staff, faculty, and students to support people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions on campus.”
This Pride Month, let’s recommit to educating ourselves about the issues facing members of LGBTQI+ communities, learn ways to advance LGBTQI+ health, and voice our support for the Equality Act as foundational to protecting the rights and health of all Americans. To every member of our LGBTQI+ community, we value you, and we need you among us.