Earlier today, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research hosted a webinar to look at the current state of available data on sexual orientation and gender identity and how the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) has played a key role in improving collection of this data.
The event, The Importance of CHIS in LGBT Research and Data Collection, featured a presentation by Gary Gates, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and research director at the UCLA Williams Institute. Dr. Gates focused on how CHIS, a comprehensive population-based health survey, has been collecting sexual orientation over the past decade. Over that time span, Dr. Gates said, public perception has been shifting and many states have passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage and other benefits. The demographic data available through CHIS shows the impact of this shift in public perception, and Dr. Gates expressed excitement about continued improvement in the future, particularly in regards to gender identity data.
. @drgaryjgates "I can't tell you how important it is that CHIS has made the commitment to include gender identity in next survey"
Dr. Gates highlighted some specific trends over the past decade by looking at a variety of demographic data, including age, income, and race/ethnicity. He found that younger people and people of color are identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual at a higher rate than they were 10 years ago and that this is likely the result of changing societal perceptions.
CPEHN hosted its third town hall meeting today in San Diego to discuss the California Reducing Disparities Project draft Statewide Strategic Plan to Reduce Mental Health Disparities. Dozens of mental health professionals, advocates, and community members gathered at the Sherman Heights Community Center to discuss the plan, which will establish priorities and recommendations for addressing mental health disparities throughout California’s communities of colors and LGBTQ population.
As in the first two meetings in Fresno and Oakland, the crowd appreciated the opportunity to comment on the plan. Many wanted to make sure that programs supported through the strategic plan have the necessary resources to be sustainable beyond the four-year pilot project. And like the other meetings, cultural competency was a recurring theme, with many pointing out the need for more Spanish-language resources in the Latino population.
Another key focus was on the importance of affirming all identities. In particular, some LGBTQ people of color identify as their race/ethnicity first and then as LGBTQ, so it is important that mental health providers (and all health providers) recognize and affirm each of these identities in order to effectively meet their needs.