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170 LGBT groups urge action on COVID-19

A montage of a large group of individual portraits together to form a pride flag that represents a multi-ethnic, mixed age range group.

More than 170 national, state, and local LGBTQ+ and allied organizations have joined in a second open letter to health and policy leaders highlighting the importance of measures to prohibit discrimination in COVID-19 treatment and prevention, and clear communication of those measures and policies to better serve the health needs of marginalized communities with histories of discriminatory encounters with the medical and public health systems.

The letter also urges medical providers and public health authorities to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data for COVID-19 cases in addition to data on race, ethnicity, age, sex and disability, in order to document and address the pandemic’s impact on minority communities. The signing organizations also emphasize the urgent need for more robust relief for lower-income individuals and families, and for persons who are dependent on lower-paying jobs in hospitality and other industries which are being decimated by the pandemic.

These organizations call on public health authorities, medical providers and government agencies to reinforce safeguards against discrimination; to foster collaborative relationships with LGBTQ+ service providers and advocates; to collect important data on patients, including sexual orientation and gender identity; and to expand the economic relief and legal protections needed by individuals and families particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

The letter was initiated by a coalition of six organizations: The Whitman-Walker Institute; the National LGBT Cancer Network; GLMA Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality; SAGE; New York Transgender Advocacy Group; and National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance. The full letter text, full signer list, and additional organizational response resources can be found online at this link: https://cancer-network.org/coronavirus-2019-lgbtq-info.