Discrimination is all too common and prevents LGBTQ people from living healthy lives. A 2016 survey of more than 3,000 LGBTQ Missourians conducted by PROMO, Missouri’s LGBTQ statewide advocacy organization, found the community’s top concerns included housing, food insecurity, and exclusions in health care. Respondents also reported experiencing discrimination at state agencies, like the Bureau of Vital Records, the Children’s Division, and Medicaid, impeding their ability to access needed services. Research at the national level underscores these findings. A 2019 Williams Institute study on poverty in the LGBTQ community found 21.6 percent of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. experience poverty, compared to 15.7 percent of cisgender straight adults. The rate for bisexual women and transgender people is dramatically higher, with 29.4 percent of people in both groups reporting they were living in poverty.

Here are just a few of the ways that health philanthropy can invest in this work:

  • Provide support to state-based LGBTQ civil rights organizations (which currently exist in about 38 states), or invest nationally in the Equality Federation which supports those working in states across the country.
  • Fund data and research to assist in building the case for change. There is a lack of solid data on the health of the LGBTQ community at a state level, especially related to the transgender population.
  • Build the capacity of small, local nonprofits that are led by and serve the LGBTQ community. These entities exist, but they may fly below the radar for a variety of reasons including the safety of the people they serve.
  • Invest in organizational systems change to create a welcoming environment for the LGBTQ community, and systems that help and heal without causing additional harm. The LGBTQ community is often further traumatized by nonprofits providing health and social services.
  • Assist in the creation of new, innovative health care models that are informed and led by members of the LGBTQ community. This often requires partnerships between existing health care entities and LGBTQ nonprofits.

Read the full article about LGBTQ healthcare by M. Ryan Barker at Grantmakers In Health.