San Francisco LGBT Data Collection Legislation

This article first appeared in San Francisco Bay Times on April 21, 2016.

On April 12, Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation that, if passed, would mandate five city departments to collect voluntary information on the sexual orientation and gender identity of their clients whenever demographic data is collected. Currently, city departments collect voluntary information on race, ethnicity and gender, but only two departments consistently collect sexual orientation and gender identity data. These are the Department of Aging and Adult Services and the Department of Public Health.

The proposed legislation before the Board of Supervisors was assigned to committee for a thirty-day review. It will then be sent back to the full board for adoption in early May. If passed, the legislation would require the Department of Public Health; the Department of Aging and Adult Services; the Department of Human Services; the Department of  Children, Youth and their Families; and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to collect and analyze sexual orientation and gender identity data.

This information would greatly assist the city and the nonprofits that serve LGBT clients to quantify and better track the needs of our LGBT population and to identify how well programs are responding to those needs. This legislation was first proposed by the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force in their final report, “Aging at the Golden Gate,” March 2014.

“The LGBT Aging Policy Task Force agreed that the city begin asking LGBT questions wherever other data is being collected,” said Tom Nolan, Special Projects Liaison to the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force. “So much of what we know about LGBT seniors is largely of an anecdotal nature. Supervisor Wiener’s legislation will go a long way toward making sure that appropriate vital services are addressed in ways that work for our community.”

If passed, the departments will have two years to achieve compliance.

The state of California and New York have both passed sexual orientation and gender identity data collection legislation. In October 2015, California passed the LGBT Disparities Reduction Act, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu. In 2014, eight New York state agencies began voluntary data collection of LGBT people who use their services.

“The LGBT community faces disproportionate challenges regarding poverty, suicide, isolation, substance abuse, and violence,” said Supervisor Wiener. “We need to improve our outreach and support to all members of our community, particularly the most vulnerable. Data collection would help us improve services for many underserved and disadvantaged parts of our populations. With this information, our city can better serve our LGBT community.”

More on this important legislation in May.

Marcy Adelman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice, is co-founder of the non-profit organization Openhouse and was a leading member of the San Francisco LGBT Aging Policy Task Force.

LGBT Resources for Seniors

  • Openhouse: 415-296-8995 openhouse-sf.org/
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: 415-434-3388 www.caregiver.org
  • Institute on Aging: 415-750-4111, www.ioaging.org/
  • National Resource Center on LGBT Aging www.lgbtagingcenter.org/
  • Project Open Hand San Francisco: Nutrition Services, 415-447-2300 www.openhand.org/
  • SAGE: 212-741-2247 www.sageusa.org/about/
  • Shanti Project, Inc: HIV Services and Life Threatening Illnesses, 415-674-4700 www.shanti.org/

Alzheimer’s Association Programs and Services:

  • 24/7 Helpline: 1-800-272-3900, www.alz.org/norcal/; Online Community: www.alzheimersblog.org/lgbt-forum
  • Memory Clinic, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center: 408-530-6900, mydoctor.kaiserpermanente.org/ncal/facilities/region/santaclara/area_master/departments/memoryclinic/index.jsp

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