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LGBTQ Pride and Prevention in June

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In Ohio, 3.4 percent of residents identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but support groups predict the number actually is much higher. (Pixabay)
In Ohio, 3.4 percent of residents identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but support groups predict the number actually is much higher. (Pixabay)
June 12, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – June is National LGBTQ Pride Month, and health care advocates in Ohio are promoting the importance of both pride and prevention within the LGBTQ community.

In Ohio, 3.4 percent of residents identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but support groups predict the number actually is much higher.

And while the community has made gains over the years, Brent Pendleton, director of prevention for Equitas Health, says it's important to remain vigilant to protect that progress and work towards full equality in all aspects of life.

"For those that are LGBTQ, we suffer from discrimination and stigma, but also lack of access to quality, affordable health care,” he states. “To take pride in your health means to be aware of not just of the freedoms that we've fought for all these years, but also total health and wellness."

Pride Month stems from the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York, when activists protested a police raid at a gay club.

Equitas Health is among the organizations offering health events for Pride Month, including free HIV and STD testing.

Pendleton explains sometimes members of the LGBTQ community don't seek out health care because of past negative experiences, but he encourages them to take pride in their health and seek preventive care.

"It's still confidential,” he stresses. “Your privacy is still protected, however, to make it normal to where accessing health care and caring about your community as a whole is normalized."

Pendleton says the LGBTQ community faces a variety of health disparities because of social discrimination and a lack of culturally competent care, including difficulty accessing care and unmet health needs.

He adds LGBTQ individuals also have higher rates of mental and behavioral health problems and are more prone to smoking and alcohol and drug use.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH