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Virtual Town Halls to Address LGBTQ+ Mental Health in Pandemic

The Out 4 Mental Health virtual town halls are a chance for members of the LGBTQ+ community to voice their experiences of the pandemic. (CALGBTQ Health and Human Services)
The Out 4 Mental Health virtual town halls are a chance for members of the LGBTQ+ community to voice their experiences of the pandemic. (CALGBTQ Health and Human Services)
May 5, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- The LGBTQ+ community faces special challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, and these challenges are the focus of a series of virtual town halls beginning Wednesday night.

The events will be a forum for LGBTQ+ people to bring up issues they've been facing and brainstorm solutions. Nicole Kristal, president of the group Still Bisexual, is a co-leader of the Out 4 Mental Health task force in Los Angeles. She said the stay-at-home lockdowns are especially tough on LBGTQ+ teens.

"You know, we have a lot of LGBTQ youth that are stuck every day now at home with families that don't accept their sexuality or that they are closeted to," Kristal said. "That can create a lot of trauma and a lot of anxiety."

The online town halls are set up by region. The Sonoma County forum will be held this Wednesday, May 6, from 6-8 p.m. The event for Kern County will be held on May 12, Monterey County on May 14, Fresno County on May 26, and dates will be added soon for Los Angeles and Shasta Counties.

Registration and more information is available at CaliforniaLGBTQhealth.org.

Kristal said the COVID-19 crisis also has presented some particular problems for the LGBTQ+ homeless population.

"A lot of times if someone's transgender, they'll be turned away from services because they don't know whether to put them with the men or with the women," she said; "so, just making sure that sort of thing isn't happening."

Advocates will make referrals to social service programs that may be able to address the issues raised at the forums. The Out 4 Mental Health task force includes multiple groups, including Health-Access California, Equality California, and the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA