Crises such as the still-unfolding coronavirus pandemic have a tendency to magnify and hasten systemic inequalities. For the nation’s LGBTQ population, the disparities that existed long before the first case of COVID-19 have only been heightened.
LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by inadequate health care and experience higher rates of poverty than non-LGBTQ people. A large share of LGBTQ people have compromised immune systems, placing them at greater risk for contracting the coronavirus, and experiencing more severe symptoms if they do.
The elevated risk is not confined to underlying health issues either. LGBTQ people are more than twice as likely to be uninsured as the general population, and even those with coverage face discrimination in accessing health care. In addition to the health crisis, the economic downturn threatens to disproportionately harm LGBTQ people and their families, who already experience higher rates of poverty.
A new column from the Center for American Progress offers a comprehensive assessment of the ways in which the LGBTQ community is at greater risk during the ongoing pandemic and addresses the measures that federal, state, and local officials must embrace and implement in order to ensure that the specific needs of LGBTQ people are met. Among them:
- Remove arbitrary barriers to care by expanding access to care and prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ patients and service recipients, as well as people seeking shelter.
- Ban discriminatory employment practices, which undermine the availability of qualified health care workers and economic security.
- Explicitly state in stay-at-home orders that contraception access, abortion, HIV testing, and syringe services programs are essential health services that will continue.
- Prioritize permanent housing placements for people experiencing homelessness.
- Expand emergency paid leave protections to ensure that all businesses and workers are covered and have access to paid medical and caregiving leave with a broad definition of family that reflects modern caregiving relationships.
Read the column: “An Effective Response to the Coronavirus Requires Targeted Assistance for LGBTQ People” by Sharita Gruberg.