2015 GLMA Conference and Nursing Summit – Register Now for Early-Bird Rates!

The 2015 GLMA Conference and Nursing Summit will be held in Portland, Oregon from September 24-26, 2015!  But what you need to pay attention to now is the deadline for the early-bird registration – which is coming up in two days – on July 24th!

The GLMA conference is always a fabulous event for all LGBTQ healthcare providers and our allies – not only does the conference provide exceptional LGBTQ-focused educational programing, it is the only place where social networking with other LGBTQ providers from all disciplines!  The annual Nursing Summit, which once again kicks off the conference for nurses, is a one-of-a-kind event, where nurses work together to improve LGBTQ content in nursing education, plan implementation of LGBTQ nursing research, and improved care improved care for LGBTQ patients in practice.

If there is any way for you to be there – register today and take advantage of the early-bird rates!


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New ruling protects against LGBTQ workplace discrimination in the U.S.

Last week the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluded that discrimination against LGBT workers is essentially discrimination based on sex, and therefore it violates  Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Here is how Time summarizes the rationale for this ruling:

In the past, courts have ruled that Title VII does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation because it’s not explicitly mentioned in the law, but the EEOC’s ruling disputes that reasoning. “Sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination because it necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex,” the EEOC concluded. The committee argued that if an employer discriminated against a lesbian for displaying a photo of her wife, but not a straight man for showing a photo of his wife, that amounts to sex discrimination.

After the Supreme Court ruling that assured the right of marriage for all in the U.S., attention turned to the fact that in most states, there is no protections against employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.  This EEOC ruling is a huge step toward ending employment discrimination, but many believe that we still need legislation that addresses specific protections for LGBTQ individuals in both employment and housing.  Meanwhile, this ruling provides a major avenue for fighting against employment discrimination – and knowing it exists is as essential as the ruling itself!  So pass this along to all your friends and colleagues!


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Rise in Meth Use Among Urban Black MSM

As reported in the New York Times in June 2015, addiction treatment providers in New York have seen a rise among black and Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM) in the use of the “club” or “party” drug “crystal meth” (methamphetamine hydrochloride, a more potent and more dangerous form of amphetamine, known by a variety of street names, including “Tina,” “poor man’s cocaine,” “crystal,” and “ice”).

Previously associated with white, affluent urban gay men, as well as the rural poor regardless of sexual orientation, crystal meth’s allure was tarnished in recent years by its association with serious health risks, including a increased probability of engaging in unprotected sex while using the drug.

Crystal meth induces euphoria, lowers inhibitions, and delays ejaculation in men, thus it has come to be used in “party and play” (PNP) sex, sometimes for extended periods of time.

However, it can also cause mood changes and longstanding brain changes, as well as cardio-vascular effects. Its euphoria makes users more inclined to engage in risky sexual behavior that may lead to HIV infection, and those already HIV infected are particularly vulnerable to its neurological changes. More information here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

Many of New York’s men of color are caught up in the intersection of race, ethnicity, and socio-economic class, as well as sexual orientation. They may be more likely to have been ostracized by their families and churches, to be targets of violence, and to be less stably employed.

The Times article features the work of the health organization Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD): http://www.gmad.org/

The article by Mosi Secret can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/nyregion/meth-finds-a-new-market-in-new-york.html

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LavenderHealth joins in celebration of the US Supreme Court ruling on Marriage Equality

Today, the landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the rule of the nation!  While there are many challenges ahead, the fact that there are so many symbols, everywhere we turn, of support and utter joy, makes this occasion one for unrestrained celebration!  Watch this video of the comments made by the chief plaintiff in the case, Jim Obergefell, whose story is a moving example of the importance of this decision and its effect on health and well-being:

White house rainbow2

Supreme court Love

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Victimization of Transgender People

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an internationally known group that is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Their work on LGBT issues spans decades and primarily focuses on the Southeast. They recently published a poignant article, In the Crosshairs, about the victimization of transgender people. The author, Don Terry, profoundly describes the horrific crimes that are perpetrated toward transgender people. It is eye-opening and illuminates the amount of work that still needs to be done for the trans community!

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Nursing Research Interest Group Forming in US Eastern Region!

More and more frequently, we see signs that LGBTQ health is gaining attention in nursing!  Last month we posted information about two important LGBT policy statements that were issued by the American Academy of Nursing  Today, we learned of a historically significant initiative to form a research interest group in one of the largest nursing research societies in the U.S.!

The Eastern Nursing Research Society (ENRS) is calling for members of the Society to form a research interest group (RIG) focused on LGBTQI health and health disparities.  Here is what they sent out to members today:

There are a growing number of nurse scientists interested in this area of research, but few opportunities exist for collaboration, particularly for those early in their career trajectory and/or not located in urban centers. In addition, for those of us who are engaged in work in this area, there are barriers to getting research approved, funded, and published.

 Our goal is to build a network of nurse scientists to facilitate the sharing of ideas, resources, and experience in order to increase the amount of high-quality research and the dissemination of research findings in the area of LGBTQI health.

ENRS members who are interested, send an e-mail that includes your name and ENRS member number to enrs.lgbt.rig@gmail.com by July 4th, 2015.  If you are in the Eastern Region and want to support this effort, contact them to learn more! You can find out more about ENRS by visiting their web site here!


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Meningococcal Disease Outbreak in Chicago, MSM Urged to Get Vaccinated

For at least the second time in recent years, a small but alarming outbreak of meningococcal disease has occurred among men who have sex with men.

Reported in the GLMA online update:

Chicago health officials have noted a small, but serious outbreak of meningococcal disease has been detected in the Chicago area with now four confirmed cases in a short period of time. Chicago health officials are recommending gay men, especially those living with HIV, receive a vaccination for the disease. “”We really want to interrupt the spread of exposure and we want people to hear the urgency of this call,” said David Munar, President and CEO of Howard Brown Health Center in a Windy City Times article on June 5, 2015.

More recently, the Chicago Tribune has reported on a vaccination campaign: “Chicago and national health officials are urging all gay and bisexual men to get vaccinated for meningitis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease responsible for the death of one man in a small but growing outbreak in the city.” Details here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-meningitis-outbreak-vaccine-met-20150619-story.html

Particularly at risk are “HIV-positive men who have sex with other men, men having anonymous sex with other men, and men using ‘hook-up’ apps to find sexual partners.” In addition, “African-American men have been disproportionately affected by this current outbreak.”

Bacterial rather than viral meningitis, this form of meningococcal disease can cause symptoms that “include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion and increased sensitivity to light.” Left untreated it can quickly cause death, but, even if survived, patients may experience brain damage or hearing loss.

Vaccination locations in Chicago can be found here: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/supp_info/infectious/meningococcal-vaccine-locations.html

For current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit here:  http://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html


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Get your Gay Pride On! Time to Celebrate!

June is the time of year when many communities celebrate gay pride – many with a parade that features the best and most outlandish displays of pure joy at the opportunity to loudly and publicly proclaim our LGBTQ identities.  The June dates commemorate the June 1968 riots that occurred in New York City following brutal police raids on Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village.  If we could re-play those riots, they would probably not seem very different from today’s protests and riots that follow police brutality that is disproportionately directed at Black and Brown men.  Like today’s protests, the riots that followed the Stonewall Inn police raids quickly spread across the country, as other LGBTQ

San Francisco Gay Pride 2006

San Francisco Gay Pride 2006

communities recognized that they too were being punished for simply being who they are – for daring to live openly.

But there is a significant thing about the riots that occurred after Stonewall – more and more the public gatherings that were initially motivated as protests against brutality and homophobia began to transform into joyous celebrations – public assemblies that had an air of demonstration against hatred, discrimination and denial of human rights, but that also proclaimed the thrill of being free to openly declare LGBTQ identities. Now, year after year, gay pride celebrations declare in no uncertain terms – we are here!  They provide a context in which we can all take the brave steps to join our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in living openly and proudly – the most important single thing we can all do in seeking a world free from discrimination.

The transformation from angry riots to joyful celebration happened very quickly – by 1970 the tradition was firmly established — check out the vintage photographs from early Pride events in this tribute to Stonewall.  Of course outrage and anger directed at hatred and brutality never went away — it is a vital energizer that moves us forward.  But it is vitally important that we also come together to celebrate, to form constructive strategies for change, and to mourn each and every instance of injustice.  So this June of 2015, I hope that you are finding a space to celebrate our diversity – and to openly acknowledge LGBTQ people and communities everywhere!


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AMA Adopts Policy on Transgender Military Service

If you have not heard, the American Medical Association (AMA) just passed a resolution stating that “there is no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals” from U.S. military service. The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates that over 15,000 trans people are serving in the military, despite rules forbidding them to serve openly. Similar to the “don’t ask don’t tell” era where lesbian and gay people were discharged from the military if they disclosed their sexual orientation, trans people are restricted from openly serving. The Pentagon still instructs military recruiters to reject anyone with a “history of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia including but not limited to change of sex.” The AMA resolution, which was led by GLMA, will hopefully be considered when the federal government considers revising the current rules. The resolution acknowledges that the current regulations that exclude trans people from openly serving are unsupported by modern medicine, and that trans service members be provided care according to the same medical standards that apply to non-trans personnel.

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What’s sexual orientation got to do with it? LGBTQI reproductive health

Co-authored by Monica McLemore, PhD, MPH, RN, assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco, and Candace W. Burton, PhD, RN, AFN-BC, AGN-BC, FNAP assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

In 2002, the first ever, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Health Summit1 was held in Boulder Colo. This was the first time bisexual people, transgender people, and intersex people were recognized on a national level at a professional conference, included funding for travel and panels/workshops specific to bisexual, transgender and intersex issues. Additionally, it was one of the first conferences exclusively devoted to health and not centered on illness and/or risk behaviors; several panels discussed the reproductive health needs of LGBTQI individuals. Much that was discussed at that conference, specifically that health care provider assumptions about gender identity, sexual orientation and behaviors can create missed opportunities to provide clients/patients with support and education, remains true today.

Amid conflicting sexual and reproductive health information2 and political discussion of what constitutes comprehensive reproductive health care3 we believe revisiting best practices in reproductive health for LGBTQI individuals is warranted.

This post aims to offer powerful tools to educate the public and decrease reproductive stigma. Understanding basic concepts necessary to provide quality reproductive health care is essential for all health care professionals working with individuals of reproductive age. As discussed in our previous blog post4, gender identity is fluid; however, sexual orientation (defined by the Human Rights Campaign5) is “an individual’s physical and/or emotional attraction to the same and/or opposite gender,” could be distinct from gender identity or expression and can also be distinct from sexual behavior. In other words, both sexual orientation and sexual behaviors can also be fluid.

Gender identity ≠ Sexual orientation ≠ Sexual behavior

A few simple considerations can enhance practitioners’ ability to provide comprehensive reproductive health care to individuals irrespective of sexual orientation, behavior and/or gender identity.

First, it is imperative that providers develop sensitivity around these issues. Providing individuals opportunities to tell you how they identify creates a “safe space” that clients can use to make the best reproductive health care decisions for themselves and their partners. Simply asking: Do you have sex with men, women or both? of all clients/patients should be routine practice and eliminates assumptions about sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Asking direct questions such as do you or your partner(s) need contraceptives or birth control to prevent pregnancy? or do you want to become pregnant in the next 12 months? removes assumptions about the reproductive potentials of the gender fluid and individuals with diverse sexual behaviors.

Relatedly, it is important to be aware that assumptions about monogamy are often just as problematic in reproductive health care provision as assumptions about anything else. Again, a straightforward inquiry about the nature of a client’s relationships can help guide recommendations about contraception and other reproductive health needs. We often ask: “Are you in a defined relationship with anyone? With more than one person?” Asking all clients if they are having sex with multiple partners (and if their partners are having sex with multiple partners) should be default to avoid missed opportunities to provide comprehensive reproductive health care to individuals involved in multiple or polygamous sexual relationships or polyamorous relationships.

In all cases, revising expectations about the needs of sexual minority, gender fluid, transgender, and polyamorous individuals creates an inclusive and welcoming reproductive health practice. Doing so promotes safe and effective practices for both providers and clients.



  1. https://storify.com/MLive/author-tweets-sex-ed-course-at-east-lansing-school
  1. http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/sebelius-v-hobby-lobby-stores-inc/
  1. http://lavenderhealth.org
  1. http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions
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