Who We Are
Established in 1992, the Lesbian Health Initiative of Houston, Inc. (LHI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to eliminating barriers to healthcare and promoting health and wellness for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)-identified women and transgender men through collaborative and integrated Education, Access and Advocacy programs.
That by working together, as a community, we illuminate and eliminate all barriers to ensure that, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification, all have clear and equal access to the health and wellness services that they need and deserve.
LHI + the Montrose Center Partnership
The integrated education, access, and advocacy programs that have been a driving force in the fight for equality in health services are now more important than ever.
That is why LHI is partnering with the growing women’s program of the Montrose Center. In this capacity, additional staff support and resources will be available to sustain and improve LHI programs. The vital mission of LHI will continue with frequent education programs on diverse lesbian and women's health issues and a focus on targeted outreach to lesbian and transgender women with low resources who are out of the healthcare system. Additionally, clients will be able to access a network of services provided through the Montrose Center, with direct navigation to care and comprehensive follow-up.
What We Do
Eliminating barriers to healthcare and inspiring health and wellness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender identified women and transgender men
Mission: Preventative Health Screenings + Education + Permanent Health Home
LHI’s Access Program provides funding and support for direct access to healthcare for its LGBT clients. This program delivers health insurance education and enrollment assistance, access to a diverse array of no cost health screenings targeting high risk health issues, navigation from abnormal screening results to diagnostics and treatment (if needed) and introduction and navigation into a patient centered and LGBT culturally competent permanent medical home. The LHI Health Fair (screening and education events) are held twice a year-the first Saturday in June and November.
Mission: Illuminate the barriers to healthcare for LGBT women and transmen + facilitate cultural competency + educate our community
LHI’s Education Program reaches and educates well over 10,000 individuals annually, including LHI clients, prospective clients, health and wellness professionals and the community at large. In 2016, LHI is set to expand the delivery of the LGBT Culturally Competent Care Training program established in 2013 for healthcare professionals by strengthening the transgender component.
Mission: Raising our voices for the healthcare we need and deserve + promote LGBT inclusive health research and policy
The Advocacy Program serves as a vehicle to increase awareness of LGBT health issues and promote LGBT inclusive health research and policies. The impact of the program’s partnerships is evidenced in LHI having an influential LGBT voice at local, state and national health organization tables. LHI provides its collaborative partners with LGBT health issues education, as well as applicable new LGBT‐inclusive research data. LHI advocates for medicaid expansion, the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in formal health data collection and LGBT inclusive health policies by participating in and facilitating the development of LGBT‐inclusive health research projects and data collection efforts.
Why We Do It
LGBT people face greater health threats than their heterosexual and cisgender peers
LHI began in a room on the second floor of Inklings, a lesbian bookstore in Montrose, when a small group of women came together determined to take action to address the increased risk and rate of breast cancer research showed lesbians faced. In December 1993 LHI became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and authorized and funded the first Houston area conducted needs assessment and study to identify the gaps in health services, as well as barriers to access for lesbian, gay and bisexual women in the Houston area. The results would be utilized to determine the types of health services which were needed and could be provided and improved by LHI.
LHI’s authorized study “Healthcare Needs Assessment for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Women” showed LGB women in Houston faced health disparities and barriers to healthcare access that included low economic status, lack of health insurance, high stress factors, low health literacy, and experienced health provider discrimination and lack of LGB cultural and health competency and knowledge. Many of the same barriers we see today.
The Need is Great
And We Provide Solutions
The State of Texas at almost 21% and the Greater Houston area at 16% lead the nation in uninsured rates. LHI estimates that there are still more than 100,000 self-identified LGBT individuals and their families without health insurance in the greater Houston area. Those who are Hispanic/Latino, Black/American-American and/or transgender face additional barriers to healthcare and are disproportionately uninsured. A 2013 Center for American Progress report found that approximately half of all LGBT Latinos are uninsured and, of those uninsured, 62% had been uninsured for two years or more.
Studies show that those that identify as LGBT are twice as likely as heterosexuals to be uninsured and that LGBT women are almost twice as likely as heterosexual women to NOT have a personal doctor.
LGBT women and transgender men are at an increased risk for heart and vascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, including breast, cervical, lung and colorectal cancers. According to a recent Fenway Institute report, one of the contributing factors to increased breast and cervical cancer risk is they are 4 to 10 times less likely than their heterosexual counterparts to have a pap test, the typical point of entry to breast and cervical cancer detection. Research data shows that, on average, medical students receive less than five hours of training on LGBT health issues throughout their entire medical education.