Out Gov. Jared Polis signs new law to learn more about LGBTQ health

Jared Polis (CO gov site)
Jared Polis Photo: State of Colorado

In Colorado this week, Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed into a law a bill requiring state agencies to add new data points to their information collection, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

H.B. 22-1157 requires that all entities that report data to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment include sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, race, and ethnicity in their data collection and reporting.

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The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D), state Rep. Karen McCormick (D), and state Rep. Brianna Titone (D), Colorado’s first out transgender state legislator. Polis is the first openly gay governor elected in the U.S.

The new requirements allow the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment to follow the Colorado Option, passed by the Colorado legislature in 2021, which established “culturally responsive” health care provider networks for all Coloradans.

“Our Public Health Departments are an important institution and this bill ensures that they are prepared to address the health of Colorado in a more equitable and effective manner,” said Mardi Moore, Executive Director of Out Boulder County, an Colorado LGBTQ+ advocacy nonprofit. “This bill will ensure we can begin addressing the health disparities we know about and those we aren’t aware of yet.”

“We know people of historically marginalized groups are at greater risk for illness and poor health outcomes,” says Rob Vissers, M.D., CEO of Boulder Community Health. “This is just as true for Boulder County as for the rest of the country. Collecting accurate demographic data is a key tool to understanding the problems our diverse community is facing so that we can take collective action toward ending health disparities.” The new data “helps us treat our patients as whole individuals.”

The law does not require a person to provide demographic information they don’t want to share. “We worked with the Attorney General and CDPHE on language to ensure that all federal and state health data privacy laws, rules and regulations will apply to this data.” Moore says. “And as a member of the community, checking any identifying boxes is always optional.”

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