Frequently Asked Questions


What does RHI do?

We are committed to improving the health and wellness of the LGBTQ community. We implement many social change strategies to do this. Please visit our Activities page for more information!

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Where is RHI’s clinic?

Rainbow Health Initiative does not have a clinic. We do our work through research, education and advocacy. Learn more by checking out our Initiatives.

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Why policy?

Research supports that the most impactful way to change social norms is through policy (Clearway, 2012). Of course, this refers to larger- public policy efforts. RHI uses that same strategy on voluntary and private level policies to change environments and practices. Learn more here: Policy Change.

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What kind of policies?

We work with organizations, events, businesses and community members to reduce the impact of tobacco and alcohol through sponsorship policies and policies that create healthier environments. Some examples of ‘healthier environments' include: free of tobacco and/or alcohol, increased access to healthy foods, and opportunities to increase active living. Ultimately, RHI works with each of the above to develop policies appropriate for them. Learn more here: Policy Change.

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Why Tobacco?

Tobacco corporations target the LGBTQ community (along with other marginalized groups) with their marketing and sponsorship dollars. We have faithfully responded to this ‘generosity’ by smoking at a much higher rate than the general population. Over 30% of the LGBTQ community smokes (2012 RHI Health Survey) versus 16% of the general population (SHAPE data 2010).

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What is health equity?

When all people have “the opportunity to ‘attain their full health potential’ and no one is ‘disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their social position or other socially determined circumstance’.” (Braveman, 2003) Learn more here Health Equity.

Braveman, P.A., Monitoring equity in health and healthcare: a conceptual framework. Journal of health, population, and nutrition, 2003. 21(3): p. 181.
CDC Social Determinants of Health

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What do you mean by health disparities?

Health disparities are defined by the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services as: A type of difference in health that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage. Health disparities negatively affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health. These obstacles stem from characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion such as race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, sexual orientation, or geographic location. Other characteristics include cognitive, sensory, or physical disability. Please also check out our reports page for more information LGBTQ health data

Examples of LGBTQ health disparities include:

  • LGBTQ youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.
  • LGBTQ youth are more likely to be homeless.
  • Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer.
  • Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other STIs, especially among communities of color.
  • Lesbians and bisexual females are more likely to be overweight or obese.
  • Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STIs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or LGB individuals.
  • Elderly LGBT individuals face additional barriers to health because of isolation and a lack of social services and culturally competent providers.
  • LGBTQ populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2020 Draft. 2009, U.S. Government Printing Office.
CDC Social Determinants of Health

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I want to get trained in LGBTQ issues, does RHI do that?

Check out our Trainings page for training and presentation options. Trainings will be customized to fit your needs.

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How can I find an LGBTQ friendly doctor?

Check out our Provider Directory. If you can’t find what you need there, we also have a list of other resources.

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Where can I find other information?

How can I volunteer?

Fill out the form on our Contact Us page and we will contact you.

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