Happy Pride Month! – Emergency Preparedness and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) People

Every June, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) community commemorates the Stonewall riots that occurred at the end of June in 1969 with pride events. The month of Pride is to recognize the history and impact the LGBT community has had on the world, while also creating a positive stance against discrimination and violence. Pride promotes and helps to increase LGBT peoples’ visibility as a social group, celebrate diversity and genders, along with continuing to fight for their equal rights.

What does all of this have to do with emergency management and disaster preparedness?
During a natural disaster or a public health emergency, health centers will often become a key resource for people. Planning and preparedness for any emergency disaster is vital to any organization. “Before an emergency strikes, it is important for health centers to consider the unique needs and circumstances of vulnerable populations, including LGBT individuals and families in the community.” (Emergency Preparedness and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) People: What Health Centers Need to Know, 2019).

Unfortunately, LGBT people have to deal with certain challenges during an emergency. For instance, there is a high rate of homelessness for LGBT youth, which can make it more difficult to reach them prior and/or during an emergency. Seniors in the LGBT community tend to be more isolated, less likely to have children or other family members around. This can put them at a disadvantage when it comes to assistance during emergency disaster, or being able to obtain resources.

How can these challenges be dealt with?
For starters, heath care centers and other organizations that deal with emergency disasters should include the LGBT community when formulating emergency preparedness plans. Reaching out to the LGBT community and its leaders is a great way to begin the process of collaborating. It is important to create an environment for LGBT people that is inclusive and feel safe to seek assistance during a time of need. “Organizations should implement inclusive practices and policies (e.g., gender identity and sexual orientation non-discrimination policies; inclusion of transgender identities and same-sex relationships on registration forms, etc.)” (Emergency Preparedness and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) People: What Health Centers Need to Know, 2019).

Every member of a vulnerable population deserves to receive the help needed during an emergency disaster. It is crucial for emergency management organization to understand the makeup of communities’ vulnerable population and the needs that must be met in order to successfully accommodate people in a time of need.

For more information: https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/Emergency-Preparedness-for-LGBT-People-Final.pdf