- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2014

New York has launched a statewide task force to collect sexual orientation data on residents as part of a comprehensive effort to improve services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Eight New York agencies will soon begin collecting the self-reported, voluntary data on LGBT people who use their services, Capital New York reported Thursday.

Data will be collected by the Department of Health, Department of Corrections, Office for the Aging, Office of Mental Health, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Office of Children and Family Services, and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the report said.

Mr. Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday: “By being more inclusive with how state agencies monitor the demographics of those they serve, we can address health and financial disparities, safety concerns, and a myriad of other issues that impact LGBT New Yorkers. This is another step forward for an important community in New York, and our administration will continue standing up for all New Yorkers, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Dan O’Connell, director of the state Health Department’s AIDS Institute, said New York’s Interagency LGBT Task Force will be the first of its kind in the country.

“In the past, this wouldn’t have been likely to happen,” Mr. O’Connell told Capital New York. “But that conversation really has changed over time.

“This is happening at a time when people are really rethinking LGBT rights,” he said. “LGBT rights aren’t just marriage equality. It has to do with having the same rights as everyone else.”

The Institute of Medicine emphasized in a March 2011 report the need for collection of data on LGBT individuals. Due to current limited data collection, it can be difficult to identify the specific nature of health, discrimination or financial disparities in the LGBT community and formulate effective means of addressing them, the governor’s press release said.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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