Every LGBTQ person has a story about a time the health care system fell short of meeting their needs. I know I do. The truth is the health care system simply was not designed to serve our needs as LGBTQ people. For too long, we have remained unseen, unheard, and underserved. As a result, a wide range of health disparities--from tobacco use, to diabetes, to cancer--have developed within our community.
While the paltry amount of research on LGBTQ health needs has grown over the last decade, the majority of it is written by heterosexual, cisgender researchers and health care professionals. I would argue that our own stories about our bodies and the barriers to care we experience deserve to directly impact the landscape of health care in every community.
The Pennsylvania LGBTQ Needs Assessment offers us this opportunity—to share our own voices and experiences with the goal of creating more inclusive and effective health programs. Beginning in 2015 the Pennsylvania Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control (DTPC) partnered with LGBTQ organizations to collect survey data about health disparities impacting our community.
Now in 2020, we are conducting the third Pennsylvania LGBTQ Needs Assessment with the goal of including more voices representing a greater variety of experiences than ever before. For the first time, there is a Spanish language version of the assessment. Special efforts are being made to encourage participation from underrepresented subpopulations including LGBTQ youth, people of color, members of rural communities, and transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
Over the next seven weeks, we are asking thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians across all 67 counties to raise their voices for LGBTQ health. The data from this assessment will fuel new and existing community-based programs designed to close gaps in service and address the unique health needs of our population. Every person who partakes in the survey will be helping the Pennsylvania Department of Health learn more about how to promote the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people. Further, our state will serve as a model, helping other states learn how to comprehensively assess and respond to the unmet needs of their LGBTQ communities.
The time is now for our health care systems respond to our lived experiences with culturally appropriate care at all stages of our lives. Our state is listening. Take the time to be heard by participating now at https://www.surveygizmo.com.