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LGBTQ+ community in Connecticut want better health care access, support: survey

The survey of over 3,000 adults in Connecticut was the first comprehensive look at LGBTQ+ population in the state
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LGBTQ+ Pride Flag

HARTFORD, Conn. — The first comprehensive look at the concerns of the state's LGBTQ+ community shows people are concerned about their access to healthcare and finding supportive and knowledgeable healthcare providers. The 3,000 responders also shared their concerns about continuing discrimination.

Work on preparing the survey started in 2019, and the survey was originally planned to be part of facilitated discussions around the state. Plans were modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic to move the survey and feedback online while acknowledging members of the community who could not access the internet. 

"The key takeaways from this extensive survey will help the network fight for more resources to address the unique challenges our communities face in accessing services such as medical, mental health, and housing. The survey helps each and everyone of the LGBTQ+ focused organizations in CT reinforce our anecdotal experience working with our community day in and day out," said Edson Rivas, Executive Director of the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk.

Patrick J Dunn, Executive Director of the New Haven Pride Center and Chair of the LGBTQ+ Health & Human Services Network, said, "This report comes at a vital time for the LGBTQ+ nonprofit community as we rebuild our sector post-pandemic shutdowns and funding cuts. Working in the sector day in and day out it wasn't surprising to me to read some of the various statistics included in the report.

Of those surveyed, 16% said they had been refused healthcare services because of their LGBTQ+ identity.

Top healthcare services accessed included: 

  • Checkup/annual exam (61%)
  • Chronic disease management (21%)
  • Cancer screening treatment (22%).

About two-thirds, or 64%, of respondents, mentioned having concerns related to accessing healthcare services, which included concerns that the services would not be LGBTQ+ friendly (20%), concerns that providers and staff would not be trained for their needs as a member of the LGBTQ+ community (19%), and not knowing where to access these services (19%).

RELATED: COVID-19 pandemic creates unique health issues for LGBTQ+ community

Other findings: 

  • 15% of respondents have been refused mental health, addiction, and/or substance use services because of their LGBTQ+ identity.
  • 13% of respondents have been refused financial or legal services because of their LGBTQ+ identity.

RELATED: Connecticut's underappreciated role on the frontline of LGBTQ+ legislation

The LGBTQ+ Health and Human Services Network was created and is administered by the Legislature through the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity and Opportunity (CWCSEO) and consists of representatives from more than a dozen health and human service non-profit agencies as well as some State agencies; most representatives are also part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves.

For Dunn with the of the New Haven Pride Center, he pointed to the following as key takeaways: 

  • More than half of respondents experienced some form of violence as a result of identity-based discrimination (orientation, gender idendity, gender expression or a combination of all three)
  • Almost all of the respondents who reported accessing housing services had concerns that these services would not be LGBTQ+ friendly or affordable.
  • Although most respondents had successfully accessed healthcare services in the past 3 years, many still reported unpleasant interactions and experiences with healthcare providers, creating a barrier to accessing needed healthcare.
  • Mental health services were reported to be highly accessed by these LGBTQ+ respondents, however over half identified concerns or barriers related to accessing such services.

The report was dedicated to Jerimarie Liesegang, a longtime advocate for the transgender community who passed away last November.  

For more information on the survey go here

Watch the press conference announcing the results of the survey.

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.

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