White House Kicks Off LGBT Focused Conferences in Philadelphia

Again from the Blade:

The White House announced on Friday it plans to host a series of LGBT conferences throughout the country in early 2012 so the public can “hear directly” from the administration on efforts “to ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for LGBT Americans.”

In a statement, the White House identified the White House LGBT Conference on Health — which will be held in Philadelphia on Feb. 16 — as the inaugural event for the initiative. The conference is set to feature remarks from Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

The statement says the events — which will take place from February to June 2012 — will be a collaboration between the White House Office of Public Engagement and other departments and agencies. Expected attendees include grassroots leaders, community organizers, advocates, students and others.

Future White House LGBT conferences after the initial event will be held in other places throughout the country. Topics are set to include housing and homelessness, safe schools and communities as well as HIV/AIDS prevention. According to the White House, more details will be made public later

This is an interesting turn of events. If you take a look at the series of LGBT regulations and issues unfolding on the federal level, it is very complicated. This unprecedented opportunity to educate the public on the new regulations and provide focused feedback on the range of issues is pretty exciting.

It is easy to be skeptical that this is “not enough” especially when you see the issues that are not on the list. But establishing a clear line of communication between the grassroots healthcare providers and HHS even if for just a weekend can move a regulation further along  – both in terms of refining it to better serve the public and in terms of implementation so the public understands how to leverage it for their best interests.

Health care is a critical issue. As we’ve seen here in Allegheny County, simply accessing health insurance benefits as an LGBTQ family can be a challenge because of politics, not policy or regulations or guidelines. So perhaps making a commitment to understand the regulations and policies will empower advocates to create a healthcare system that is more just for all Pennsylvanians.