Celebrating Pride Month with Action

This Pride Month, I am reflecting on the stories I have heard from LGBTQI+ communities across the country. I’ve heard from parents who had to relocate—leaving their homes, friends, and lives—for their children’s safety and health. I think about the parents who cannot afford to leave their communities and are subjected to harassment daily for simply loving their kids. I feel for our trans and nonbinary siblings who bear the stress and carry the burden perpetuated by hateful rhetoric and laws. I am buoyed by the advocates and communities nationwide who show up and stand up to fight for equality. I feel joy for the members of the LGBTQI+ community who are deeply proud of their identity and live their full lives with pride.

I stand with them in this fight. I want us to collectively build a more equitable and inclusive future—where health care is accessible and free from discrimination for all. That’s why this Pride Month, I am especially proud of taking one step further in ensuring access to care for LGBTQI+ Americans. On April 26, my office, the Office for Civil Rights, implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. This rule prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics) in health care. It will affect so many people across the country—including those in the LGBTQI+ community.

The Rule helps to protect individuals against discrimination in all covered health programs and activities at HHS, regardless of the type of care they are seeking or accessing. The Rule prohibits categorical denials of health care services and coverage based on an individual’s sex including sexual orientation and gender identity. Our goal is to make sure you can go to the doctor without fear of stigma or discrimination. After hearing from over 85,000 of you—I want to thank many of you for commenting on the rule. It is hearing from you—and what you’ve experienced and your stories—that inform and shape how the rule is drafted.

Another rule I am proud of is the , which advances equity and bolsters protections for people with disabilities. Among other protections, the rule prohibits denying medical treatment based on biases or stereotypes about a patient’s disability, including HIV status or gender dysphoria. In addition, our protects LGBTQI+ people by clarifying and reaffirming that HHS grant recipients of specified grants are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County.

While cruel legislation is being passed in too many states, I want to remind you that you do have rights, enforced through Federal laws like the ones I mentioned above. I also want to highlight that you have privacy rights. My office enforces the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule, which provides you with important rights, including your ability to keep your protected health information private and access a copy of your records. It’s very important to be able to access your own medical information when you need to—especially should care be restricted in your state and you can get care in another.

If your provider has denied you access to a copy of your medical record or if you have experienced unlawful discrimination in your pursuit of health care or human services, please let us know by submitting a complaint to my office:

Additionally, as part of the LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership established in June 2023 with HHS, DOJ, and DHS, OCR helped update a to ensure the security, safety, and well-being of the LGBTQI+ community.

In the spirit of Pride Month, you should all be proud of the contributions you have made to help HHS create a more just and inclusive health care system that serves and meets the needs of everyone equitably. Through partnership and enforcement, OCR helps protect access to health care, because all people deserve health care that is safe, culturally competent, and free from discrimination. I stand with you and work every day to ensure we build a stronger foundation for our health care system to support a healthier, more equitable future for all!

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