Discriminatory policies worsen the health of black sexual minority men
Eliminating racist and anti-LGBTQ policies is key to improving the health of gay, bisexual and other sexual minorities, according to a new study.
Researchers examined the effect of structural racism at the U.S. state level and anti-LGBTQ policies on the psychological and behavioral health of black and white sexual minority men.
“Our findings highlight the cumulative effects of racist and anti-LGBTQ policies and their implementation for gay, bisexual, and queer black men,” says Devin English, assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and senior author of the ‘article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“To improve mental and physical health and support their human rights, these oppressive policies must be changed.”
The researchers interviewed a US national sample of 1,379 black and 5,537 white sexual minority men over the age of 16, identified as men (including cisgender and transgender men), were HIV negative or unaware of their status, and reported their psychological health (eg, symptoms of anxiety) and behavioral health (eg, excessive alcohol consumption and frequency of HIV testing).
The study measured structural racism based on an index assessing inequalities between blacks and whites at the state level in terms of incarceration rates, educational attainment, economic indicators, status employment and residential segregation.
He measured anti-LGBTQ policies using the Human Rights Campaign’s State Equality Index which ranks each state based on how its laws affect LGBTQ communities, such as l ‘Authorization of hate crimes, conversion therapy and discrimination in housing, employment and public housing.
The states with the worst scores for LGBTQ policy were those in the southern and upper Midwestern United States that continue to limit access or criminalize experiences of LGBTQ people, such as restricting access to gyms. baths that match the gender identity of transgender and broad gender communities.
The states with the worst scores for structural racism were primarily those that had large metropolitan areas in the northern states with legacies of redlining, systematic divestment, and other forms of racism.
Black men from sexual minorities living in states with high structural racism and anti-LGBTQ policies were exponentially more likely to view themselves as a burden on others and to engage in heavy drinking than those living in states with lower levels of structural oppression.
Additionally, black participants had higher anxiety rates in states with high levels of structural racism and anti-LGBTQ policies, and lower rates of HIV testing in states with anti-LGBTQ policies.
The study shows that structural racism worsened the effects of anti-LGBTQ policies and vice versa. In contrast, the study found no association between any form of structural oppression and the health outcomes of white men belonging to a sexual minority.
“The finding that anti-LGBTQ policies were associated with negative psychological and behavioral health outcomes among black, but not white, sexual minority men, suggests that this oppression disproportionately affects black sexual minority communities,” says English.
“To effectively address the adverse health effects of structural oppression on black sexual minority men, clinicians, researchers and policymakers must advocate for the passage of anti-oppression laws, such as the equality, which protect these men from interpersonal and institutional discrimination.
Source: Rutgers University