The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) published a research brief on Friday (March 20) detailing the health and economic risks raced by the LGBTQ community during the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the brief, LGBTQ people are more likely to work in industries whose jobs are currently being highly affected by the coronavirus.
Two million LGBTQ people, or 15 percent of the United States’ LGBTQ population, work in restaurants and food services; 1 million, or 7.5 percent, work in hospitals; almost 1 million work both in K-12 education and colleges/universities each; and half a million, or 4 percent, work in retail.
In total, about 40 percent of all LGBTQ people work in one of these five industries. By comparison, 22 percent of non-LGBTQ people work in these industries.
Higher rates of poverty can also disproportionately prevent LGBTQ people from seeing doctors. According to a 2019 Williams Institute analysis of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, 22 percent of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. live in poverty, compared to an estimated 16 percent of straight and cisgender Americans. The BRFSS analysis further found that one in five LGBTQ adults have not seen a doctor because they could not afford it.
LGBTQ people are also more vulnerable to the health risks of COVID-19: 17 percent lack health care coverage, 37 percent of LGBTQ adults smoke daily (compared to 27 percent of non-LGBTQ people), and 21 percent have asthma (compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ people).
“We are facing a global public health crisis, and as in all emergencies, the most marginalized are at increased risk,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Many in the LGBTQ community may lack the resources to effectively combat COVID-19, lacking access to paid sick leave or living without health coverage, and are more likely to work in an industry that has been most affected by the pandemic, putting them in greater economic jeopardy or increasing their exposure to the virus.”
“It is also critical to understand the challenges facing the LGBTQ young person who has been sent home from school to face family rejection or the LGBTQ senior who is more likely to be living alone during this crisis,” David continued. “It is important to know and understand the unique impact of the virus on the LGBTQ community so that we can prepare to weather this crisis as we have weathered crises before—by uniting as a community and helping those in greatest need.”