Announcing: Network Restarts at CenterLink – The Community of LGBT Centers

Scout

Scout, Ph.D.
Director, CenterLink’s Network for LGBT Health Equity

We are more than pleased to be announcing the following news right now!

 

NATIONAL LGBT ORGANIZATION PUTS NEW FOCUS ON ENHANCING LGBT HEALTH

CenterLink Awarded New Five-Year CDC Grant

Becomes New Home for The Network for LGBT Health Equity

Ft. Lauderdale, FL – October 28, 2013 – CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers today announced that The Network for LGBT Health Equity has joined CenterLink and will become an official program of the organization.

“We are thrilled to have The Network for LGBT Health Equity joining CenterLink,” said Terry Stone, Executive Director of CenterLink.  “The work that Scout and his staff have done over the past eight years in creating healthier LGBT communities is so impressive, and we have high expectations that by using our organizations’ shared strengths we can provide even more focus on LGBT health through community centers across the country.”

Funding for The Network comes from a new five year $3M cooperative agreement from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for operation of the LGBT tobacco & cancer disparity network. “We look forward to continuing to work with the CDC to ensure that all of the state departments of health they fund have access to the latest best practices in LGBT wellness,” said Dr. Scout, Director of the Network for LGBT Health Equity at CenterLink.

All operations will be headquartered in CenterLink’s offices in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, with remote staff on the east and west coasts.  This union broadens CenterLink’s service lines for LGBT community center leaders, including health and wellness information resources, access to LGBT cultural competency training for state health departments and policymakers, and access to health advocacy resources.

The Network will continue to partner with The Fenway Institute, its former organizational home. “We look forward to continuing our work with The Network for LGBT Health Equity and helping to identify and end health disparities for the communities we serve,” said Dr. Judy Bradford, co-chair of The Fenway Institute. As part of a new focus on cancer, the Network will also be starting a major new partnership with the National LGBT Cancer Network.

“The Network’s business has always been linking people with information. That includes providing information to organizations around the country about taking care of our health, especially the role of tobacco and healthy living in eliminating our cancer & other health disparities” said Dr. Scout.  “We’ve had such a productive relationship with CenterLink over the years, and as we focus more on changing community norms about wellness it became clear — becoming an official part of CenterLink will let us have more impact than ever before.”

The Network’s move to CenterLink comes at a time when the federal Department of Health and Human Services has pledged to continue its work to ensure equal treatment for members of the LGBT community. The Department continues to implement changes reflective of the June Supreme Court ruling that invalidated Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Additionally, HHS is continuing outreach to the LGBT community to ensure they are aware of new consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act – including a ban on health insurance companies’ ability to deny or limit coverage because of sexual orientation or gender identity – starting in 2014.

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CenterLink was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers.  Serving over 200 LGBT community centers across the country in 46 states and the District of Columbia, as well as centers in Canada, Israel, Mexico, China, Italy and Australia, the organization plays an important role in supporting the growth of LGBT centers and addressing the challenges they face, by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity and increase access to public resources. (www.lgbtcenters.org)

The Network for LGBT Health Equity is a community-driven network of advocates and professionals looking to enhance LGBT health by eliminating tobacco use, and reducing cancer risk through enhancing diet and exercise. The Network, one of six CDC-funded tobacco and cancer disparity networks, directly trains state health departments and other policymakers in LGBT cultural competency and forges bridges between those agencies and local LGBT health specialists. The Network also actively monitors national and state health policymakers and urges community action when there is an opportunity to enhance LGBT wellness. (www.lgbthealthequity.org)

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Makin’ those connections: The Surgeon General Report and LGBT Youth

 
By Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate
Makin’ those connections: The Surgeon General Report and LGBT Youth
 
 
 
 

Happy Friday!

Yesterday was the release of the 31st tobacco-related Surgeon General Report. The surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, held a call to answer questions about the whopping 920 page document. The report focuses on the pervasive issue of smoking among youth and young adults, ages 18-25 (but let’s be honest- younger too). The report covers the epidemiology, causes, and health effects of  tobacco use in this population, as well as interventions that can be used to prevent it.

On the call, Dr. Benjamin talked about prevention being the key to stopping the “smoking epidemic”- 99% of smokers begin before age 25, so if we can get youth to remain smoke free until age 26, only 1% will start to smoke.

People on the call asked some interesting questions, which sparked some good conversations. Some things discussed included tobacco-control funding being cut on local levels because of current economic strains, smokeless tobacco products (which are seen to be “less bad”, but still contain NICOTINE. Additionally, use of smokeless products and cigarettes are almost always “dual use”), the importance of mass media interventions (Aiming interventions at youth “trend setters” who influence youth culture – hipsters, counter-culture and bar-scene crowds), and how smoke free policies lead to smoke free norms, which in turn help with the overall effort of tobacco control.

I think that this report is especially exciting and pertinent to the work that we are trying to do here at the Network. There is not much data out there about smoking and LGBT youth, but you better believe the rates are even higher than the already ridiculously high numbers of non-LGBT youth smokers. And we know that things like depression, bullying, not feeling supported, being stressed, not fitting in, etc., affect our LGBT youth AND are direct contributors to smoking.

In this moment where there is a lot of national focus on youth, around issues such as tobacco and bullying, I think it’s high time we put our heads together and made some serious connections between the problems that are in front of us, and the reasons that these problems exist- whether it is systemic homophobia, omnipotent corporations, whatever….There is amazing work that is being done, with people full of experience and knowledge. I think this is a perfect time for EVERYONE to get on board and who knows? Maybe we’re on the way to making a HUGE difference…

Hope everyone’s weekend is lovely!

 

Oh! And here are some useful links:

The Whole Shebang (all 920 pages ready to be downloaded)

Executive Summary

Booklet

Fact Sheet

Thoughts on Tobacco, Evolution, Sustainability & Strategic Planning

Scoutby Scout, Ph.D.
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
At The Fenway Institute

Healthcare Reform Has Started to Change Our World

It seems I’ve been a public health professional for almost a quarter of a century. (really? wow) I’ve gotta say, in those 24 years, one of the things that gives me the most optimism is the advent of health care reform. Cutting through the details, health care reform is fundamentally shifting to being more logical about our health, particularly finally investing more in avoiding problems, instead of just fixing them. When I was in school, we used to describe public health like this; if you’re next to a river and people keep coming down drowning, the doctors will pull them out and resuscitate them, but the public health officials will head upstream to help stop them from falling in. Finally now, our health care system is moving towards that upstream intervention. It took spiraling healthcare costs to spur the shift, a burden that our kids will probably have to keep paying, but at least it’s happening.

85% Is Good News for Us

A while ago folk at CDC started to throw out a startling stat, seems the analysts crunched the numbers and came up with the fact that if we do a better job of avoiding smoking, eating better, and exercising more as a country, we can cut our healthcare costs by a whopping 85%. Eighty five percent, that’s just shocking. Yes, it’ll take a boatload of changes to really shift these 3 health behaviors, but it’s numbers like this that are spurring the 3/4 of a billion dollars the government recently invested in Community Transformation Grants aimed at these three issues. This is all good news for anyone working in tobacco, or in healthy eating or exercise. As the ex-head of CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health said, “We kept saying smoking was important, finally they realized we were even more important than anyone guessed.”

Fewer Silos, More Grain

Hold on, hold on, there’s even more logic coming out of the government. (I know, we try not to expect that). Along with the shift towards more wellness/prevention work, there’s also a lot of reorganization afoot, to combine funding streams to allow more integrated work on the three areas: tobacco, exercise, and healthy eating. Yah, not only does this probably reduce paperwork for someone (not that you could tell from any of the proposals I’ve written recently), but it also just makes sense. If we’re trying to help people be healthier, do we really want several sets of people locally trying to change things, one for tobacco, another for healthy eating, and another urging folk to exercise. Of course not, the concept of pushing Wellness as an integrated focus makes the most sense.

Evolution and Pain

As most of you know, it was this shift that spurred our move about a year ago to change our name from the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network, to the less issue-specific Network for LGBT Health Equity. We knew future funding would come out with a tobacco/eating/exercise combined focus and we wanted to ensure the Network would be ready to compete in the evolving world. Unfortunately, for a group that’s always been community driven, we dropped the ball on the name change, not announcing the opportunities for input widely enough to our membership. While most everyone was very supportive of the name change, some vocal and longtime members were upset. Worrying that we would lose our tobacco focus in the shift. I hope the ensuing time has proven our continued focus on tobacco. It is after all, the only thing we’re funded to address. But I also hope we’ve showed we can be relevant to the other health issues as well, because we really do understand much of our work in tobacco can be useful to other arenas.

Sustainability & Strategic Planning

The Network for LGBT Health Equity has about 1.5 years left on our CDC contract. After that point, there’s no guarantee CDC will continue the tobacco network funding. Of course, we’re working very hard to clarify the value in having networks like ours who can keep pointing out gaps, keep tabs on what’s happening around the country, and keep the people in touch with the policymakers. Considering the new emphasis on changing health policies I believe the value of networked LGBT communities is higher than ever, because if there’s one thing our communities have built skills in, it’s policy change. But the truth remains, this Network has to become sustainable in a shifting health environment.

As always, our strength is in our people. I’m particularly grateful to the Network Steering Committee members. This group has agonized over the name change, created a media plan, is currently creating a new level of detailed best practices document, and in 2011 spent about half a year creating a draft strategic plan to help guide us through the turbulent years ahead.

Community Review & Our Network

Very soon now, this draft strategic plan will be circulated to our constituency for review and input. I hope each of you can take a few minutes to look at it and think about whether this reflects the Network you want to see. I know how hard the Steering Committee worked on this draft, every single word was agonized over. Our history, our core of tobacco work, the evolution of the arena, what we want, all these things and more were put in the hopper and fashioned into a (deceptively) short set of goals for us to use as our compass in coming years.

Some of you were there in 2003, when 60 people gathered from all around the LGBT communities to create our first tobacco action plan. That document provided the foundation for the Network development and innumerable local programs for years. I feel the development of this strategic plan is a direct outgrowth of that work. I know our world has changed since 2003, but I hope every single person out there concerned with LGBT health, tobacco, and wellness still feels the drive we did back then, to make and keep this Network as one we have built, that represents our joint goals.

So look for that strategic plan to come out for review in a few days, and I hope you’ll take at least a few moments to check it out, and help us make it the best possible guide for the Network that community members built.

 

 

 

 

ACTION ALERT: One Month to Demand Partnership in Local Community Transformation Grants

Scoutby Scout, Ph.D.
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
At The Fenway Institute

Local CTG Grantees Have One Month To Modify Action Plans

Remember how (just minutes ago) we posted that leaders are urging local disparity leaders to demand partnership in the newly awarded $100M of Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)?

Well good news is, many of the new grantees are right now modifying their action plans! CDC has asked for the new plans to be submitted to them by end of January. This means right now is a perfect time to contact the people who got the award locally and urge this partnership. Clock is ticking!

Who to Contact and How

The entities below are the CTG grantees who have to submit modified action plans by end of January. We have contact information for each of them, or you can just google it and call the top person. Please email us at lgbthealthequity@gmail.com if you want the direct contact information.

Broward Regional Health Planning Council (Florida)
City of Austin Health & Human Services Department (Texas)
County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (California)
Denver Health and Hospital Authority (Colorado)
Douglas County Health Department (Nebraska)
Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department (Minnesota)
Illinois Department of Public Health
Iowa Department of Public Health
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (California)
Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (Kentucky)
Maine Department of Health and Human Services/Maine CDC
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (to serve state minus large counties)
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (to serve Middlesex County)
Mid-America Regional Council Community Services Corporation (Missouri)
Minnesota Department of Health
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
New Mexico Department of Health
North Carolina Division of Public Health
Oklahoma City-County Health Department (Oklahoma)
Philadelphia Department of Public Health (Pennsylvania)
Public Health Institute (to serve the state of California minus large counties)
San Francisco Department of Public Health (California)
Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Michigan)
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
South Dakota Department of Health
Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (Alaska)
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (Washington)
Texas Department of State Health Services
The Fund for Public Health in New York (New York)
University Health Services, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Wisconsin)
University of Rochester Medical Center (New York)
Vermont Department of Health
Washington State Department of Health
West Virginia Bureau for Public Health

What to Ask

  • CDC urges you to address health disparities with this award. Do you have LGBT communities identified as a disparity population this CTG award will target in your Action Plan?
  • CDC requires that you have a “Leadership Team” that includes reps from disparity popuations. Do you have LGBT people on your Leadership Team for the grant?
  • CDC requires you to do extensive data collection for evaluation. Are you collecting LGBT status as part of your demographics?
  • CDC requires 50% of these funds to be regranted locally. Are you planning on funding disparity community based organizations with these regranted monies? (versus just health departments)
  • Are you integrating a full range of disparity populations in the Action Plan, Leadership Team, and regranting plans?
  • If no to any of the above – Why not? We can help you fix this, provide data, people, groups, etc. What will it take to make this change?

Talking Points

  • LGBT people smoke at rates from 35% to almost 200% more than the local population
  • If we haven’t collected local data on this disparity – why do you think the national LGBT disparity data don’t apply to us?
  • Remember, even for the exercise/nutrition components of this award, if we change the main population, but don’t integrate disparity populations into that work, this could build a new disparity.
  • LGBT people, and all of the overlapping disparity populations have the ground forces, and policy change organizing skills you need to change local health policies. AKA If you’re trying to change local policy without us, it’s like leaving some of your best racehorses in the stable.

Successful Strategies

  • If LGBT people and/or other disparity groups are not being included — shine a spotlight on this fact, get press, post a blog about it, share with your membership. If a policy gap is widely known, it’s more likely to be fixed.
  • Identify what allies you might have above the grantees, like the Commissioner of the local health department, or allies in the Governors office, etc. Telling them about this gap can also help fix it.
  • Reach out to and partner with allied disparity population leadership to approach the grantee together, remember that parable about one stick and a bundle of sticks!
  • Remember you’re trying to partner with the local grantee, ask the hard questions, ask them loudly if need be, but offer solutions, you want to be the people who can fix a problem for them. You’re trying to build a working relationship here.

When?

ASAP, the groups above to turn in their new plans by end of January! It’ll be much harder to get inclusion once those plans are turned in.

Leaders Urge Us To Demand Partnership in Local Community Transformation Awards

Scoutby Scout, Ph.D.
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
At The Fenway Institute

Asking Officials How We Get Inclusion in Local CTG Awards

Excerpts from the live video of the event

Flashback to American Public Health Association (APHA) conference a few months back. This event pulls together 13,000 public healthians from every walk of life. They had a session there where they were announcing the Leading Health Indicators for HP2020. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh was there, as were several other leaders in the health and racial and ethnic minority communities. Moderating the session was Dr. Benjamin, the well respected President of the APHA.

You know what we do, when they open it for questions, we’re early in the line, asking about disparities and LGBT inclusion particularly.

This time I asked about this $100M of new Community Transformation Grant (CTG) money that’s just been awarded locally. As you know, we’ve been working on this lots and LGBT inclusion in these new awards wasn’t just optional, the way the CDC guidance was written, it was downright difficult for states to justify. To put out $100M of new local funds for tobacco, exercise, nutrition and not even target our communities is a huge loss. Even more worrisome are signs some states aren’t even reaching out to their existing racial and ethnic disparity infrastructure.

How? Demand Partnership

So, that was what my question was about this time, see full transcript below. Importantly, Dr. Benjamin was really clear and almost strident; local advocates need to demand partnering with local CTG grantees. We will too often be left out until we speak up and demand to be included.

So the question is, will we?

In Their Own Words; The Transcript

APHA PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:  Thank you. Next question? 

SCOUT:  Hi. My name is Dr. Scout and I’m from the Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Health Equity. I love that we’re using social media so much as I’m trying to livetweet this event, which definitely bends your brain.

I did my dissertation on social determinants of transgender health. I love that social determinants are in there.

But my question would be you know something? I do a lot of work with community groups. I’ve been working for many years with a set of health disparity networks in Minnesota that are doing health and wellness disparity work around the Southeast Asian populations, Latino populations, African American and African populations, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender population. 

It was dispiriting to see millions of dollars come into Minnesota under Communities Putting Prevention to Work and not see overlap with those existing health disparity networks.

We worked hard that the Community Transformation Grants. Had an RFA that said please do more work with your existing disparity populations and your disparity action plans. And it was even more dispiriting to see that they got almost $5 million in the state of Minnesota and they still haven’t even reached out to the existing disparity networks.

So my question I guess and it’s probably for you, Dr. Koh, what are we thinking around plans not just to ask for disparity inclusion for all populations, but to actually monitor and ensure that it happens as we run these huge sets of new funds out across the country? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH:  Well, Scout, it’s good to see you again. You always ask me the good questions. [LAUGHTER] We have a commitment to ending disparities that I think is greater now than ever before.

And when we talk about disparities we discuss them not just with respect to race and ethnicity, but also sexual orientation and gender identity and geography and level of disability and many, many other dimensions.

We do have a dedicated action plan on reducing disparities that was unveiled some six months ago. In fact, the next session I’m speaking at in an hour is on achieving health equity.

That is perhaps the most comprehensive plan to reduce disparity that ever unveiled by the department. And also reflects the growing commitment across the country to truly make the vision of health equity come alive.

So we also have committed to monitoring progress very, very carefully. And our assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, Sherry Glied, is a valuable co-partner and leader. And her whole office is helping monitor outcomes.

This is where using the healthy people data, the leading health indicator data, implementing the national prevention strategy, and using the power of Dr. Glied’s office is going to help us track these outcomes over the future.

Your challenges that you described about the disconnects in various states is reality speaking, so thank you. Please do not give up because I think we are in a new dimension right now with public health, a true paradigm shift with respect to social determinants. And this is our opportunity to make it happen.

APHA PRESIDENT BENJAMIN:  And let me add. I think that’s a perpetual problem and we really, and that’s on us. I’m not sure it’s on them. I think it’s on us and the community to demand that we partner.

We talk about partnerships and collaborations all the time. And then we fail to collaborate and partner. So I think we’ve got to go back to our communities and demand that we do it. Just like in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

We’ve got to demand it. We’ve got to require it. We’ve got to talk to our local policy makers. You know, beat up on us local officials. You know, I always hated that when I was a health officer.

But the truth of the matter is unless us and those of us at APHA and others demand that that happen, it’s not going to happen locally. All that kind of control is local at the end of the day.

So let’s certainly try to do that. I know that we’re obviously eager to work in all the communities and make that happen.