The ongoing impact of COVID-19 on BIPOC and Latino LGBTQ communities

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LGBT Health rainbow cross with doctors

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) released new data highlighting how the LGBTQ community, particularly Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and Latino LGBTQ adults, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across various facets of life.

The report was released last week on August 18th and was conducted in partnership with Community Marketing and Insights with support from The Rockefeller Foundation. BIPOC LGBTQ adult respondents were found to be twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 more than once compared to white LGBTQ adult respondents. Furthermore, nine out of 10 LGBTQ adults reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health.

“This study reiterates what we have long known — those living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities have borne the brunt of this pandemic and continue to do so,” Jay Brown, HRC Senior Vice President of Programs, Research and Training, said. “The lessons the nation learned from the COVID-19 pandemic must be swiftly implemented in response to monkeypox, as we are witnessing our community, especially Black and Latino gay and bisexual men and transgender women, face the worst of a failing public health infrastructure.”

The study found that one-third of LGBTQ adult respondents said they have tested positive for COVID-19. Latino LGBTQ respondents were substantially more likely than LGBTQ respondents of other races/ethnicities to have ever tested positive, reported by more than four in ten (42 percent) Latino LGBTQ respondents, compared to approximately 30 percent each of Black (31 percent), Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) (32 percent), White (30 percent) and multiracial LGBTQ respondents (29 percent). 

Additionally, almost one-fifth (18 percent) of LGBTQ adults in the sample tested positive for COVID-19 more than once, with BIPOC LGBTQ respondents about twice as likely to have done so than white LGBTQ adults. Twenty-two percent of Latino LGBTQ respondents, 20 percent of Black LGBTQ respondents, 21 percent of AANHPI LGBTQ respondents, 19 percent of multiracial LGBTQ respondents, and 10 percent of white LGBTQ respondents tested positive for COVID-19 two or more times. 

The negative mental health impact of the pandemic on LGBTQ respondents were clear, with 90 percent of them reporting the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health and only 8 percent reporting the pandemic had no effect on their mental health. While about half (53 percent) of LGBTQ respondents reported experiencing both negative and positive impacts on their mental health through the pandemic, less than 2 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents experienced only positive impacts on their mental health, leaving 36 percent of LGBTQ respondents who experienced only negative impacts. 

More than half (56 percent) of LGBTQ respondents experienced an unmet need for mental health counseling, encountering at least one barrier preventing them from obtaining their desired mental health care. When asked why they did not receive the desired mental health services, the most commonly cited reason was cost. More than half (58 percent) said that cost concerns or barriers prevented them from obtaining mental health services. Over a quarter (26 percent) were unable to obtain care because they could not find an LGBTQ inclusive mental health provider.

This is the newest research in a long line of HRC’s previously released reports into the impacts of COVID-19, which began in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

Journalist Chelsey Johnstone is the former Project Manager for Greater Trenton and was primary writer for TrentonDaily. She is a senior journalism major at Montclair State University and former communication and music student at Mercer County Community College. While attending her community college, Chelsey led her student newspaper, The College VOICE, as Editor-in-Chief. Now, Chelsey is working to advance her journalist skills freelancing for Out in Jersey Magazine and Unclear Magazine with the hope of positively impacting the world of reporting.