BATON ROUGE, La – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana joins millions around the world in recognizing and showing support for LGBTQ+ individuals during Pride Month, raising awareness of specific health needs and disparities that affect this community.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are an important part of our culture at Blue Cross, and Pride Month is an opportunity to increase understanding,” said Rod Teamer, Blue Cross director of Diversity Programs and Business Development. “People of all races, ethnicities, genders and sexual identities need health care. Fostering respect so everyone feels safe, prepared and comfortable getting treatment or asking for help with mental health needs is an important part of fulfilling our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians.”
Examples of health access issues that LGBTQ+ individuals can experience include:
• Delaying or avoiding care because they face discrimination or feel uncomfortable. This makes LGBTQ+ patients less likely to get preventive services like cancer screenings, which leads to later diagnoses of illnesses that could be prevented or treated successfully at earlier stages.
• Higher rates of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and substance abuse. LGBTQ+ individuals have an above-average risk for these conditions. They are also more likely to commit or attempt suicide, particularly LGBTQ+ youth.
• Difficulty finding providers with experience or training on LGBTQ+ health needs. Some health providers report not being educated about LGBTQ+-specific health risks, like an increased risk of skin cancer for gay and bisexual men. According to a 2019 report, just over half of oncologists surveyed reported they were confident in their knowledge of the health needs of lesbian, gay or bisexual patients. Just over one-third reported they were confident in their knowledge of the health needs of transgender patients.
Blue Cross Supports Health Equity
During June, BETTER for Blue, Blue Cross’ Employee Resource Group for LGBTQ+ employees, family members and allies, is helping their colleagues learn more about the discrimination people of different gender and sexual identities face so they can be better prepared to listen, empathize and show support. BETTER for Blue will also host employee events to highlight the creative, cultural and historical significance of Pride Month.
Follow Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA throughout June to see original graphic designs, videos and other messages raising awareness of LGBTQ+ health needs and sharing resources for treatment and support. You can download, share or post these messages on your personal social media. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
To advance diversity and equity in clinical research, Blue Cross is working to promote the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program in Louisiana. All of Us is an ambitious effort to gather health data from 1 million or more people living in the United States who reflect the country’s diversity. The program takes a special interest in diversity and including people historically underrepresented in health research, including sexual and gender minorities. To learn more about All of Us visit www.joinallofus.org/LA.
Ride Blue Bikes to Support Project Lazarus
For every ride taken on Blue Bikes, New Orleans’ bikeshare program, during the month of June, Blue Cross will donate $1 to Project Lazarus. This nonprofit organization offers transitional housing, health and wellness services to support people who are living with HIV/AIDS.
“Thank you for supporting Project Lazarus during Pride Month. Your use of Blue Bikes will directly benefit our residents, allowing them to overcome the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and live healthy and successful lives,” said Susanne B. Dietzel, Ph.D., Project Lazarus executive director.
"The month of June is an opportunity to proudly celebrate the history of the LGBTQIA+ community," said Geoff Coats, CEO of Blue Krewe, the local nonprofit that manages Blue Bikes. "Through Ride For Pride, Blue Bikes is excited to support New Orleans' LGBTQIA+ community and recognize the important work of Project Lazarus to empower community members living with HIV/AIDS."
Visit www.BlueBikesNOLA.com to see a map of the bikeshare program’s service area and hub locations. Blue Bikes are placed in neighborhoods throughout New Orleans.
Follow Blue Bikes on social media @BlueBikesNOLA during June to see or share pictures with the hashtag #RideForPride.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.
All of Us is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).