Ensuring the health and well-being of everyone in the LGBT community is an important part of Equality California’s mission. After all, compared to our non-LGBT counterparts, members of our community are more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, and are less likely to have health insurance.
But for as many as a quarter-million LGBT Californians, those problems are compounded by immigration status: undocumented immigrants work hard, pay taxes, and yet are unable to access many vital healthcare services.
Equality California Institute (EQCAI) is providing free cultural competency training to health clinics in the Central Valley as part of a larger initiative funded by The California Endowment to address this double disparity.
That begins with creating a welcoming and supportive environment for potential undocumented LGBT patients, and on August 5th, EQCA Director of Programs Doug Greco and organizer Justin Florez met with more than 55 staff members from the Madera County Public Health Department, the California Department of Behavioral Health Services, and the California Department of Social Services. They were joined by were Kayleia Southard from Gay Central Valley, who talked about challenges facing and resources available to the local LGBT community. The training included workshops on basic LGBT terms and concepts, the intersection of the LGBT and undocumented communities, and how to make LGBT patients comfortable discussing their sexual orientation or gender identity.
On August 7th, we sponsored a town hall together with the Gay & Lesbian Center of Bakersfield. The event focused on healthcare access for the undocumented and LGBT communities and drew local LGBT, immigration, and healthcare organizations, as well as community members. Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, EQCAI boardmember and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, also attended. EQCAI staff members Doug Greco and Justin Flores teamed up with Jan Hefner and Jose Granados from The Center to talk about healthcare disparities and the intersection of the LGBT and undocumented communities, as well as local issues facing these communities in Kern County. Attendees also participated in small group “house meetings” to discuss their own healthcare stories and how LGBT, immigration, and health care advocates can work together to address these disparities.
The work is funded by a California Endowment initiative to improve access to healthcare for the undocumented and LGBT communities.