Giving Compass’ Take:
• Funders for LGBTQ Issues lay out the health care and wellbeing gaps that affect the LGBTQ community. See strategies to address these gaps in part two of this series.
• What are the unique needs of LGBTQ people in your area? Who is already working to address these gaps?
• Learn about grantmaking strategies for LGBTQ health.
The movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights has seen amazing progress in recent years, on issues ranging from the freedom to marry to inclusion in the military. Yet even with these advances in legal equality, many LGBTQ people still face basic challenges when it comes to quality of life. LGBTQ people are at greater risk for mental and behavioral health challenges, and for diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. Many of us lack health insurance and face other barriers to accessing health care—especially among those who are transgender, people of color, undocumented or economically disadvantaged. In short, we are more likely to get sick, and we are less likely to get the care we need.
This report, Vital Funding: Investing in LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing, assesses the scale and character of foundation funding for the health and well-being of LGBTQ communities. Drawing on the data collected for our annual tracking reports on LGBTQ funding, we find that domestic foundation funding for LGBTQ health totaled $50.4 million for 2011 – 2013. Considering the magnitude of the health disparities facing LGBTQ communities, this is a fairly modest amount – and it is highly dependent on a small set of dedicated funders.
When it comes to LGBTQ health, we face daunting challenges, but we also have impressive assets to build on. As a community and as a movement, we have time and again demonstrated our ability to come together to support one another, to advocate for ourselves, and to build lasting institutions. Across the country, there are hundreds of LGBTQ community centers, health centers, and HIV/AIDS service agencies, and other community groups advancing LGBTQ health. There are also a growing number of non-LGBTQ-focused institutions—from hospitals to research centers—seeking to improve their competence, expertise, and effectiveness in working with LGBTQ communities.
In the philanthropic sector, LGBTQ health offers a unique opportunity for LGBTQ funders, HIV funders, and health funders to come together, to learn from each other, and to leverage grant dollars in creative ways. We are honored to have the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for this effort, and to have wonderful allies in organizations such as Funders Concerned About AIDS and Grantmakers In Health. We hope this report will provide a starting point for a broad and diverse group of funders to develop strategies for lasting and powerful impact on the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities.
Like other minority groups, the LGBTQ community faces significant health disparities, particularly around issues of HIV, cancer, cardiovascular health, and mental health. These disparities tend to be especially severe among various LGBTQ subpopulations such as people of color, youth, older adults, and transgender people.