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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are diverse with respect to sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and historical experience. Yet because they do not conform to the norm of exclusively heterosexual sexual orientation or traditional gender roles, these individuals share a history of marginalization. Data on the health of LGBT populations is sparse due to reluctance in some instances, to disclose personal information on sexual orientation and even stigmatization of researchers who focus on these populations. Responding to a need for a research agenda to address the health needs of LGBT populations, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science recently issued a report entitled The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. The IOM reviewed existing literature, identified priority research areas, and made a set of research recommendations to increase knowledge about the LGBT population.
Dr. Judith Bradford, one of the authors of the IOM report, will review current estimates on the size and distribution of sexual and gender minority population groups, discuss what is known about their health, explore methodological issues pertinent to the study of LGBT populations, and then summarize some of the IOM's key observations and recommendations. She is Director of the Center for Population Research in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health at The Fenway Institute, which is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. Since 2001, she has worked with Fenway Health to expand its sexual and gender minority health research program and develop interventions to improve LGBT health and access to care.