by Sara Horton
Discrimination, among other factors, has long complicated healthy living for the LGBT community. A solution is now on the state agenda. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released its first strategic plan for the "health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Coloradans" yesterday.
The 44-page plan aims to eliminate obstacles that can prevent the Colorado LGBT population from getting health information, services and care. "Invisible: The State of LGBT Health in Colorado," research conducted by One Colorado Education Fund, states, "Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported that their sexual orientation has kept them from seeking physical health or mental health services," hesitation that can lead to the avoidance of care altogether.
"One of the most important things that we know and that I see here with young people is that they are afraid to come out and therefore have conversations with their doctors about what's going on with them," says Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of Inside Out Youth Services. "Most health providers do not take the step to help all families feel included in their services."
She adds that the plan can change that, action that will make LGBT people feel more comfortable in coming out to their health providers. "It is really encouraging that the State of Colorado at this level of the state health department is taking a step to make a really at-risk population visible, and you can't get the help that you need, or pass the laws that are required or get fair treatment if you're invisible. That's the primary thing that I think maybe that will help make happen — to increase the visibility that there is a problem."
The plan, which you can read here, has the following goals:
· Build competent and LGBT-affirming prevention, early
intervention, and health care services accessible throughout Colorado.
· Engage LGBT Coloradans and community organizations to shift social patterns toward healthier living and improve the health and wellness systems that serve their communities.
· Ensure LGBT-affirming policies and political actions strengthen individual and community partnerships to advance mutual aspirations.
· Improve Colorado LGBT-specific data and research to inform about health outcomes.