Governor Cuomo Announces Multi-Agency State Effort to Address LGBT Disparities

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New York becomes first state in the nation with coordinated statewide strategy to improve LGBT data collection.

Albany, NY - July 23, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State is undertaking a coordinated, multi-agency effort to strengthen data collection for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers. Outlined in the first report by the State’s Interagency LGBT Task Force, this statewide effort to include sexual orientation and gender identity information in data collections will allow the state to better tailor services to meet LGBT needs, ultimately improving the health and lives of thousands of New Yorkers. This effort makes New York the first state in the nation to employ a coordinated strategy to develop its data collection procedures for the LGBT community.

“New York State has a long history of advancing progressive ideals, and today we are continuing to lead the nation by identifying new ways to improve services and better meet the needs of the LGBT community,” Governor Cuomo said. “By being more inclusive with how state agencies monitor the demographics of those they serve, we can address health and financial disparities, safety concerns, and a myriad of other issues that impact LGBT New Yorkers. This is another step forward for an important community in New York, and our administration will continue standing up for all New Yorkers, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Institute of Medicine in its March 2011 report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, emphasized the need for collection of gender identity and sexual orientation data. Due to current limited data collection, it can be difficult to identify the specific nature of health and other disparities in the LGBT community and formulate effective means of addressing them.

Eight state agencies currently collect or are updating their systems to collect LGBT demographic information in their clinical and survey instruments: the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Department of Health, the Office for the Aging, the Office of Mental Health, the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Office of Children and Family Services, and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. The Taskforce is working with all agencies to identify additional appropriate systems to update in 2015, and will ensure agencies are sharing resources and best practices in training and implementing these changes.

Jonathan Lang, Director of Governmental Affairs and Community Projects for the Empire State Pride Agenda, said, “New York’s LGBT advocacy organization is proud to partner with these statewide agencies to finally start collecting critical information on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers. The information collected will be incredibly useful to identifying and understanding the needs of LGBT New Yorkers that will allow us to create more tailored approaches to effectively reduce the well-documented health disparities adversely impacting our community.”

Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan, said, “We welcome and support OASAS’s decision to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity. This data will serve as a powerful tool to address substance use—and its connection to HIV—in the LGBT communities. According to the Federal government, LGBT people have the highest rates of substance use, and this new data will arm local providers to better ensure health equity, access to care and enrollment in health insurance for our communities.”

Michele McClave, Executive Director of the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, said, “Changing our system to collect sexual orientation and gender identity information is critical to providing the best patient-centered AIDS prevention and treatment services we can and continuing New York’s tradition of having the premier treatment system in the country.”

Lisa Alford, Executive Director Onondaga County Onondaga County Office of the Aging, said, “Including information on the LGBT community in our intake process has been important to ensuring we are providing vital services to seniors in Onondaga County. We commend Governor Cuomo’s leadership to coordinate a statewide strategy with more state agencies to improve programs and services for all New Yorkers.”

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