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PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara

PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara
Parents, Families, Friends and Allies United with LGBTQ People

PO Box 617
Buffalo, NY 14207

April Sharing Meeting

April 17, 2:30-5:00

Kenilworth United Church of Christ

45 Dalton Drive, Tonawanda, NY 14223
The sharing meetings are held at Kenilworth United Church of Christ, 45 Dalton Drive, Tonawanda 14223,
from 2:30-5:00. Newcomers and anyone interested will be offered the option of meeting privately with a PFLAG
parent. Our monthly meetings are in the library, which is near the parking lot entrance. The facility is
handicapped accessible. New Parents Meetings are scheduled as needed at a location convenient to those
involved. These self-help one-on-one meetings deal with the concerns of parents and family members who
have recently learned that a loved one is gay.
We meet because we have learned that someone very close to us is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender. We try to
help one another deal with this information in a positive manner. Although we do not agree at all times, we try to be
understanding. We offer help to those who seek it, but do not force ourselves on others. We strive to maintain
anonymity while sharing on a level that is comfortable for all of us.

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PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara



Banner at conference says it all

President Phil Salemi, Jr. with scholarship application at Silver Creek Conference

PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara

PFLAG inscribed bookmarks and rainbow pencils were available to attending teens

PFLAG board members attended both youth conferences sponsored by Gay and Lesbian
Youth Services (GLYS) where local Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) met in the middle of March.
These high school GSAs have a spring conference each year, but the great news is that
there are so many school and students attending, the one conference that has been held in the
past had to split, with a conference for the Southtown GSAs hosted by Silver Creek High
School on March, and the Northtown conference was held at Starpoint High School on March.
The presentations and workshops were the same for both afternoons, and there was a
PFLAG presence at both as well. PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara had parents and members host a
workshop and also joined other local organizations having a table in the cafeteria as well.
PFLAG members passed out PFLAG rainbow pencils, bookmarks, and applications for the annual
scholarships. Many teens asked questions and discovered PFLAG for the first time, while others
were familiar with it already, some having learned about our group from previous conferences,
GSA presentations, and the Pride Parade.
This day is one of youthful enthusiasm, learning, and fun. PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara sends
strong and sincere thanks to GLYS, the hosting schools, the advisors, and most importantly,
the wonderful youth of Western New York.

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PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara

By Daniel Marchalik
I recently wrote about changes in the way medical students are taught about LGBT health
issues. In the piece, I mentioned that new regulations will soon require doctors to ask patients
about their gender identity and sexual orientation, an observation that generated a wide range
of comments, many of which were quite hostile to the notion of physicians discussing gender
and sexuality. Should physicians really broach these topics during routine visits?
Simply put, sexual practices and gender identity should be viewed similarly to other
categories that we now consider to be a necessary part of patients medical historiesfor
example, their past medical and surgical history, travel history, or family history of cancer. As
many recent studies have demonstrated, patients in the LGBT community represent a
population with certain inherently higher risks; therefore, a careful understanding of patients
gender and sexuality can help tailor medical care to their individual risk factors
If physicians think that LGBT patients are a rarity in their clinics, they are mistaken. In a
survey of more than 7,000 adolescents published in the journal Pediatrics, 9.3 percent of
sexually active teens reported having a same-sex partner; however, 38.9 percent of them selfidentified as heterosexual/straight. A similar finding was seen in the adult population: A survey
of more than 4,000 men revealed that 72.8 percent of men who have sex with men identified
as being straight.
This raises an important point: If the goal of the medical interview is to assess and
address risk, then questions must be both specific and directed toward particular sexual
practices, not simple categories.There are many considerations that are not unique, but are
nevertheless particularly relevant, to the LGBT community. According to data published by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.2 percent of gay high-school students
experienced dating violence in the prior year (versus 13.8 percent of the heterosexual students
in the same districts). Meanwhile, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health
demonstrated that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths in Grades 7 to 12 were twice as likely as
straight youth to attempt suicide. That is not to say that questions about sexual violence and
self-harm should be limited to LGBT patients.

PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara

These discussions are likely to be standard topics for many pediatricians. However, for
certain LGBT teens who may already feel misunderstood and marginalized, the physicians
office can represent a safe space to engage in a conversation about sexuality and identity.
Being able to have this conversation openly and consistently can thus not only
appropriately shape the visit and guide patients toward necessary resources but also function
to build rapport. In fact, students do wish for these conversations to happen: A study of more
than 2,000 high-school students revealed that 80-90 percent of them would find it helpful to
discuss sexual matters with their physician. However, physicians rarely broached the topic, as
only 15 percent were asked about their sexual history and just 8 percent were asked about
their sexual orientation.
At the same time, a 2014 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine revealed
that lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults (age 12-22) were less likely to take part in
physical activity and were 46-76 percent less likely to participate in team sports, raising
concerns for associated complications like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular complications
later in life.
This concern was echoed in a 2010 study in the American Journal of Public Health, which
revealed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults were more than twice as likely to have
cardiovascular disease as straight adults. To put this in perspective, a person's risk of
cardiovascular disease roughly doubles in the presence of a family history of it.
Though these studies and risk factors should not be treated equivalently, it is important to
recognize that asking patients about their sexual orientation can be as important for a
cardiologist as noting their family history of heart disease. The issue is further complicated by a
well-documented increased prevalence of smokingthe California LGBT Tobacco Use Survey
demonstrated that people in the LGBT community were 50-200 percent more likely to smoke
than the general population.
The complications associated with smoking go without saying. Perhaps the greatest risk
that the LGBT community faces, one that is too often left out of the conversation in a
physicians office, is HIV. Here are some simple facts: According to the CDC, in 2010, 63
percent of new HIV infections affected men who have sex with men; yet only 49 percent of gay
and bisexual men age 18-24 were aware that they had been infected with the virus. At the
same time, 24 percent of gay and bisexual men report never using condoms. Most striking is

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PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara

the fact that despite these statistics, 56 percent of gay and bisexual men say that a doctor has
never recommended that they be tested for HIV.
In the same study, almost half of gay and bisexual men reported never discussing their
sexual practices with their physician. Patients who are transitioning can be particularly affected
by poor physician communication. A December 2015 study of 314 trans women in San
Francisco published in LGBT Health revealed that 49.1 percent reported using hormone
replacement therapy that wasnt prescribed by a clinician, raising concerns for potentially
deadly complications such as liver damage, heart disease, and clot formation.
At the same time, a September 2015 study in Lancet Oncology noted the decreased ability
of transgender people to receive cancer care, with some evidence suggesting that transgender
people have a disproportionate cancer burden. Making the issue more difficult is the lack of
cervical and breast cancer screening seen in trans men and of prostate cancer screening in
trans women.
Indeed, physicians need to be both aware and vigilant of the often-complex nature of
continued cancer screening in transgender patients.
If that list seems long, the roster of LGBT-related health risks is actually much more
extensive. Here is one more: The average primary care visit is roughly 20 minutes. Thats not
enough time to ask every patient about every issue. So, in an environment where time is
always limited, questions that help assess risk factors also help physicians to tailor their
questions, interventions, and counseling, ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.
Ultimately, though, the root cause of the communication breakdown goes beyond time
constraints. Often, it can be traced back to physicians basic discomfort discussing sex-related
topics with patients in general, and with LGBT patients in particular.
Whether from lack of education, lack of comfort, or lack of time, these important topics
simply fall by the wayside.

Aspects of a patients history like sexual practices, gender-related

surgery, identification, or plans for self-treatment, are all part of the larger picture of the
patients life and health. Doctors cannot chose to ignore these practices any more than they
can choose to ignore what medications their patients are currently taking. If the goal of
medicine is to treat the entire person, physicians must begin by taking a complete history.

PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara


In October of 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo introduced regulations through the New
York State Human Rights Law that unequivocally banned harassment and discrimination
against transgender people. These regulations affirmed that all transgender individuals are
protected under the States Human Rights Law, and all public and private employers, housing
providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against
transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the State of New York.
This was the first time that any governor has issued statewide regulations to prohibit
harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity, transgender status or gender
dysphoria. Governor Cuomo announced the regulations in a speech at the Empire State Pride
Agendas fall dinner, where he was also honored with the groups Silver Torch award.
The scourge of harassment and discrimination against transgender individuals is wellknown and has also has gone largely unanswered for too long, Governor Cuomo said. New
York has always been a beacon for the country on LGBT rights. We started the movement at
Stonewall, we led the way with marriage equality, and now we are continuing to show the
nation the path forward. We will not tolerate discrimination or harassment against transgender
people anywhere in the State of New York period.
These regulations represented the first state regulatory action in the nation to affirm that
harassment and other forms of discrimination, by both public and private entities, on the basis
of a persons gender identity, transgender status, or gender dysphoria is considered unlawful
discrimination. Under state law, the New York State Division of Human Rights has the statutory
authority to promulgate regulations interpreting the Human Rights Law. Further, while
discrimination against transgender people has been specifically forbidden in New York State by
Executive Order since 2009, in practice that order only protects state workers.
Additionally, New York currently has limited pockets of legal protection for transgender
people because of municipal ordinances or laws that also ban harassment or discrimination, to
varying degrees. However, many municipalities do not guarantee these protections, and there
is no statewide ban on discrimination or harassment for individuals not employed by the state.

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The Governors action ensured that all transgender individuals do not lose their rights simply by
traveling from one county or city to another.
The State of New York has had a long history of protecting the rights of transgender
persons under the provisions of the Human Rights Law. In the 1977 case of Richards v. U.S.
Tennis Association, it was recognized that discrimination claims under the Human Rights Law
may be brought by individuals alleging sex discrimination because of their gender identities,
and it has long been the practice of the Division of Human Rights to accept and process gender
identity discrimination complaints on the basis of the protected categories of sex, and where
appropriate, disability.
Over the years, both New York and federal case law in this area has developed to support
protection for transgender individuals on the basis of sex. In the State of New York, the Human
Rights Law offers substantially more protection than federal antidiscrimination laws, because
gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition that falls within the broad definition of
disability found in the state law, as New York courts have recognized. This additional protection
affords increased rights for transgender individuals in New York, such as the right to reasonable
accommodation for those who allege a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
New York was the first state in the nation to enact an anti-discrimination Human Rights
Law. The Law, enacted in 1945, affords every citizen an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and
productive life. Individuals who feel they have been harassed or discriminated against can file
complaints in State court, or with the New York State Division of Human Rights, without
charge. Those complaints are promptly investigated at regional offices throughout the state.
If the Division determines there is probable cause to believe harassment or discrimination
has occurred, the Commissioner of Human Rights will decide the case after a public hearing,
and may award job, housing or other benefits, back and front pay, compensatory damages for
mental anguish, civil fines and penalties, and may also require policy changes and training as
appropriate. Civil fines and penalties can be up to $50,000 or up to $100,000 if the
discrimination is found be "willful, wanton or malicious" and, unlike under federal law,
compensatory damages to individuals are not capped.
The legislation built on Governor Cuomos past groundbreaking support for the transgender
community. In 2014, the Governor introduced new regulations to include transgender health
care services under New York States Medicaid program, ensuring that enrollees could receive
treatment coverage for hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery. The Governors

PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara

administration also issued regulatory guidance to commercial insurers stating that they may
not deny medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria.


Phil Salemi, Jr., President

Lisbeth Ball, Director

Amy Fularz, Vice President

David Barrett, Director

Brian Carrier, Treasurer

Sharon Barrett, Director

Michele Perry, Secretary

Ann Carrier, Director

Julie Christiano, Director

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PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara

Is it time to renew your PFLAG membership?

Lifetime Membership Membership .........$250

Sponsoring Membership ... $100 (Business Card Advertisement ($100 per year)

Supporting Membership .......................... $50

Household Membership . $30

Make checks payable to PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara and mail to: P.O. Box 617 Buffalo, NY 14207
PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara is a non-profit 501(c)3 and donations are tax-deductible.

PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara, is a non-profit, all volunteer, community-based organization

not affiliated with any ethnic, religious, economic or political group. Membership is
open to all. PFLAG membership lists are kept confidential.
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