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Health and Human Services to collect LGBT health data
News update posted June 29, 2011
2011-06-29

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WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to collect data to better understand the unique health challenges facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Early this month, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicated that her department intended to collect this data, and today's announcement comes alongside the publication of draft standards for health data collection under the Affordable Care Act.

"Secretary Sebelius continues to demonstrate her strong commitment to the health of all Americans, including the LGBT community, and we applaud her for it," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Quality data is a foundational step to understanding and addressing the health needs of LGBT people and, for the first time, the federal government has laid out a plan and a commitment to collecting that crucial information. Today's announcement puts us on the road to healthier lives for LGBT people and their families."

As part of its Blueprint for Positive Change, HRC urged the administration to take steps to collect data and address LGBT health disparities, and has continued to push HHS to do so. HRC has also lobbied Congress to include LGBT health data collection in the Affordable Care Act and to fully fund the inclusion of LGBT questions in federal health surveys and programs.

More information about the Department's plan for the collection of LGBT health data is available here: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/lgbt06292011a.html

Williams Institute Applauds HHS Plans For LGBT Inclusion In The National Health Interview Survey

Los Angeles, CA, June 29, 2011….The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced a plan to include sexual orientation and gender identity on the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a key source of information about the health and well-being of all Americans.

Williams Distinguished Scholar Dr. Gary Gates notes, "Today's announcement solidifies the commitment that Secretary Sebelius made last week to provide more and better data about the health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As was clearly stated in the findings from the recent Institutes of Medicine report on LGBT health disparities, the need for more data is acute. I urge HHS to move as quickly as possible to include sexual orientation and gender identity questions on the NHIS."

Columbia University Professor and Williams Senior Scholar Dr. Ilan H. Meyer said, "Our nation's aim to reduce health disparities related to sexual orientation, as stated in Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020, has been hampered by lack of broad population-based quality data. Accurate and reliable data about the health of the LGBT population are essential for forming public health policies, setting research priorities, and designing effective interventions. HHS's announcement that it will include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in health surveys is important news because data collected in such surveys will allow public health professionals and policy makers to understand patterns of and risks for disease among LGBT people, to design effective interventions, and to track our progress over time in reducing health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity."

The Williams Institute has been a leader in advancing LGBT data collection:

With support from the Ford Foundation, Williams convened a group of scholars over a five year period that resulted in the 2009 publication of a best practices guide for asking sexual orientation questions on surveys and appropriately analyzing such data;

More recently, a similar process was initiated to consider best practices regarding measurement and analyses of gender identity data;

In 2010, the Williams Institute partnered with the Census Bureau to produce materials designed to encourage LGBT participation in the 2010 Census;

Williams Distinguished Scholar Gary Gates was asked to serve on a scholarly committee convened by the Census Bureau to consider improvements to how the Bureau collects information about same-sex couples.


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