The Los Angeles LGBT Center commends Gov. Gavin Newsom for his approval of $17.5 million to create the unprecedented Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Health Equity Fund under the California Department of Public Health. The landmark funding was included in the new state budget signed by the Governor and marks the first time a state has earmarked specific funds for LBQ women’s health.
“After months of advocating for this funding, we are thrilled that California lawmakers recognized the tremendous health needs of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women. These women have been invisible in healthcare conversations for far too long, and the consequences have been deadly,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “With this funding, we hope to not only improve healthcare for LBQ women across this state, but to pave the way for similar efforts across the nation.”
The Center helped lead a statewide coalition to advocate for this funding, based in part on the wide experience Center clinicians have gained when offering services to women through the Center’s Audre Lorde Health Program for lesbian and bisexual women. The organization’s volunteer-based Resistance Squad collected hundreds of advocacy postcards and letters, conducted phonebanks and visits to key legislators, and organized the first-ever LBQ Women’s Lobby Day in Sacramento in support of this historic funding.
The new fund supports LBQ women’s access to health and mental health care, domestic violence programs, and treatment referrals for smoking, alcohol, and substance abuse. It also will pay for trainings to health care providers to provide culturally appropriate care, community education and outreach efforts, and research into LBQ women’s health needs.
One in two LBQ women has experienced discrimination in a health care setting, including anti-LGBTQ bias and lack of access to culturally appropriate health and mental health care. This includes life-saving preventative care, such as mammography and other cancer screenings. Nearly 30 percent of this population has reported delaying visits to their doctors, even if they have insurance. These challenges are exacerbated for LBQ women of color and older adults, as well as for transgender LBQ women who are at elevated risk for stigmatization and discrimination in health care settings.
“The Center thanks all the community members and coalition partners for taking a stand for LBQ women’s healthcare,” added Los Angeles LGBT Center Director of Policy and Community Building Terra Russell-Slavin. “To the California lawmakers, including the LGBT Legislative Caucus, who helped make this effort a reality—thank you! We know this is the first step and look forward to continuing our work with you to address the deep health disparities experienced by the LGBTQ community.”