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Press Release: Discriminatory Anti-LGBTQ Arizona Laws Negatively Impact Health

State Advisory Board

Press Release from the Arizona LGBTQ/GSM State Advisory Board

Discriminatory Anti-LGBTQ Arizona Laws Negatively Impact Health for Entire Community

Bathroom lawsuit and other institutional discrimination creates public health issues

Phoenix, Arizona, June 17, 2016:  The Arizona Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Gender & Sexual Minorities Advisory Committee urges a change in policy within the state of Arizona.

With the wave of discriminatory laws being proposed and passed in State Legislatures across the country against Gender and Sexual Minorities (GSM) comes a host of intended and unintended consequences that will impact the health and healthcare for entire communities.

The laws and proposed bills allow individuals and institutions, including those providing healthcare and social services, to deny services based on religious grounds and ban employment and other protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Many studies have shown that anti-LGBTQ discrimination has been linked to increased risk of depression, anxiety, substance use, and violence against the LGBTQ Community. These risks and negative health consequences are even higher among intersecting LGBTQ communities of color.

The National Trans Lifeline reports that in North Carolina call volume has nearly doubled since North Carolina restricted use of public bathrooms to sex assigned on birth certificates. Being denied access to bathrooms not only impacts mental health and sense of self, but can also lead to kidney infections, urinary tract infections or even dehydration as individuals may avoid drinking water to avoid going to the bathroom. Yet Arizona has joined a lawsuit with 11 other states to deny transgender students access to bathrooms that conform to their gender identity.

Discriminatory laws can also have unintended consequences for children born with gender-related genetic disorders, children with disabilities who may need a different sex parent to help them in the restroom, and children who find themselves homeless due to lack of support, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics in a statement.

Studies have also shown that when government enacts laws and policies that support equality for LGBTQ individuals and when LGBTQ individuals feel accepted by their communities and families, overall physical and mental health increases.

Not only do these laws impact health for the community, they also drive up health care costs.

If patients are refused care based on sexual orientation and gender identity, overall health costs increase by preventing people from accessing necessary primary, preventive services and drive them into costly emergency rooms for conditions that could have been treated in a primary care setting.

The average cost for an emergency room visit is over $2000, while the average cost for a primary care visit is about $150.  Regardless if a patient is insured or uninsured, these costs get passed on to all consumers of healthcare, whether it be through higher insurance premiums or higher out-of-pocket costs for the uninsured.

Arizona has already seen the financial impact of passing (or not passing) laws that appear to be discriminatory.  In 1990, when Arizona was awarded the 1993 Super Bowl, the NFL rescinded the game immediately after Arizona voters rejected a ballot measure recognizing Martin Luther King Day as a state holiday, costing the state an estimated $100 million. In 2010, after Governor Brewer signed SB1070, business boycotts of Arizona cost the state about $140 million.

We urge Arizona to reject harmful and discriminatory bills. It is incompatible with Arizona values and the stated aim of being “business friendly” to create additional health concerns driving up costs.  Only by abandoning the current suit and rejecting any future discriminatory bills can Arizona begin to move towards true health for all.