PRIDE MONTH LGBTQ+ HEALTH JUSTICE
• June 2020 •
From Juan Navarro, Executive Director
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Building Blocks of Justice
Together with many others in the world, L.A. CADA’s Board and staff are heartbroken at the shocking murder of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Our agency grieves with Mr. Floyd’s family and community, and we understand the rage this injustice it has provoked across the county.
As an organization committed to progress and equity, L.A. CADA condemns systemic prejudice, racism, and violence in all its forms. In our corner of the world, we work daily to create parity in the way behavioral health disorders are addressed. L.A. CADA stands against our country’s treatment of addiction as a criminal justice matter because it has a disproportionate and devastating impact on the communities of color we serve. We believe in policies to treat addiction and mental health issues as a public health concern and continuously advocate in favor of behavioral health treatment – not jail sentences.
L.A. CADA stands in solidarity with those seeking truth, justice, and racial and social equity… As an agency with a long and successful history of working with persons on society’s margins, L.A. CADA is committed to participating in changing a system that has made black lives harder, more dangerous, and shorter, on the average, than white lives. L.A. CADA embraces diversity, and is committed to restorative justice, health equity and the individual authenticity of all we are privileged to serve.
Today, L.A. CADA stands even more resolved to ensuring that families and communities of color are fairly and adequately served. We want to listen to and lift up the voices of Black and brown people in L.A. County. With introspection, community input, and advocacy work, L.A. CADA will help enact the structural changes that must take place to prevent more heartbreak caused by racism and inequality. May our grief and rage become building blocks of justice.
Pride Month LGBTQ+ Health Justice
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month is celebrated every June to honor the June, 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York. That demonstration was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in America, and the beginning of a long struggle toward LGBTQ+ justice and equal rights – one of the early bricks in the wall. Those building blocks also include countless community members lost to hate crimes, HIV/AIDS, and suicide. So, as we celebrate the progress that has been made over more than half a century, L.A. CADA also looks at the work still to be done.
A 2019 study by the Cornell University Center for the Study of Inequality was the largest-known literature review on the topic of LGBTQ+ health. It revealed that in 95% of studies, there was a direct link between anti-LGBT discrimination and LGBT health harms. Discrimination clearly has far-ranging effects on LGBTQ+ health, and the consequences are compounded for vulnerable populations, including people of color and low-income LGBTQ+ adults and youth.
Specifically, the Cornell study showed:
- Discrimination increases LGBTQ risk for poor mental and physical health (depression, anxiety, suicidality, trauma, substance use, and cardiovascular disease);
- Discrimination creates a hostile social climate for LGBTQ individuals, taxing their coping resources and contributing to minority stress through internalized stigma, low self-esteem, expectations of rejection, and fear of discrimination;
- Racial and socioeconomic discrimination exacerbate the harm caused by discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Fifty-one years after Stonewall, America still needs better health, social, legal, and economic justice for LGBTQ+ persons. L.A. CADA is working toward that goal. Our agency is providing new LGBTQ+-affirming programs, including participation in the first-ever Rainbow Court” in L.A. We work to enhance protective factors against the harms of LGBTQ+ discrimination using community and family support. L.A. CADA also actively supports the establishment of positive social climates, inclusive practices, and anti-discrimination policies.
Learn more about: the Cornell University LGBT Study
“I’m not your average girl, right? I’m ‘Super Girl’. Not because I’m fabulous, honey, it’s because I’m sober. Yes, I call my recovery ‘super powers’. Going against the tide for forever hasn’t been easy. I found out early I could crawl out of my shell with drinks and drugs, and that’s what I did. Looking for super powers in a bottle. You can see I’m well over six foot and I was never really accepted as a woman, so I drank, smoked, and tried to hide my depression with meth. Nothing worked very long because even if I looked beautiful, I was ugly inside. Unhealthy too, HIV, hepatitis, lots of other things. The judge put me in treatment, and to be honest with you I was glad — I was so over the street life. My rehab was special for LGBT people, so not your average program. Being trans wasn’t unusual there, so I couldn’t blame my drug use on that. I had to look deep inside myself. That’s how I became ‘Super Girl”. I was able to reach in and find my real strength. I know as long as I work that recovery program, I keep my super powers.”
Do your part stop the spread!
- Wash your Hands
- Wear your Mask
- Keep your distance (6ft apart)
SPOTLIGHT – THE EVIDENCE IS IN:
As treatment providers, it’s just not good enough to deliver LGBTQ+ sensitive care. The gold standard is LGBTQ+ Affirming Care: treatment that actively promotes self-acceptance of the LGBTQ+ identity as a key part of recovery. This means that treatment affirms our participants’ gender/sexual orientation and identity, as well as their choices. Affirming care also ensures that all treatment staff validate LGBTQ+ values and beliefs and acknowledge that sexual orientation develops at an early age.
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that behavioral health treatment programs can be rated on a spectrum – from LGBT-hostile to LGBT-affirming. The continuum is based on the research of Dr. Joseph Neisen who studied parallels between the painful effects of sexual and physical abuse and heterosexism. He defined heterosexism as a form of cultural victimization that oppresses LGBTQ+ persons, creating victimization and abuse.
To deliver LGBTQ+-Affirming Care, a treatment program must: 1) primarily serve LGBTQ+ persons; 2) affirm the LGBT individual by using LGBTQ+-specific materials and groups that are not mixed with heterosexual participants; and 3) provide LGBTQ+ specific treatment components.
While failure to provide LGBTQ+ affirming care can result in a difficult recovery process, the delivery of LGBTQ+ affirming care promises to produce more successful client outcomes.
Read more about: The Treatment Needs of LGBTQ People