Statements by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and HHS Principals on Pride Month

Content From: Press Office, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human ServicesPublished: June 14, 20228 min read


Cross-posted from HHS Press Office

Pride Flag flying in front of HHS in DC

[June 1,2022], HHS raised the Progress Pride Flag outside its headquarters building to commemorate Pride Month. Photos below.

[June 1, 2022], after raising the Progress Pride Flag outside of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) headquarters building, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and other HHS leaders from across the Department released the following statements to celebrate Pride Month:

“Today, and throughout June, we celebrate Pride Month. As part of our celebration, we will continue our work to ensure all our programs and services are equitable and inclusive, and all our LGBTQI+ colleagues know they and their contributions are valued,” said Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This year, we have unfortunately seen an alarming rise in state laws and other actions that discriminate against our LGBTQI+ children and youth. To anyone who feels targeted or alone in these times, you are not—we see you, are standing with you, and will do everything we can to protect your health and human services. This Pride Month, we as a Department recommit to ensuring every American can access health care—including gender-affirming care, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“HHS is committed to protecting the health and well-being of all Americans – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm. “During Pride Month and every month, we will continue working to ensure everyone can access the quality health care they need, including gender-affirming care, without fear of discrimination.”

“Pride is our time to celebrate how far we have come, look to where we are going, and reflect on the countless people who have helped us get to this point, both those known and those unknown who worked to advance the health and rights of LGBTQI+ communities,” said Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH). “For every LGBTQI+ person living in this country, it is okay to be you, and it is the right thing to do to stand up for your dignity and your freedoms.”

“At ACF, we focus every day on promoting the well-being of children, youth, and families. It’s our job to work to make sure that no one is left behind, including gender diverse and transgender youth,” said January Contreras, Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). “We know the research that having just one accepting adult in their lives greatly reduces the risk of suicide attempts. As ACF builds systems, we are committed to developing the presence of that one accepting adult – and more.”

“Pride Month is a time to celebrate individual freedoms, self-worth, and personal dignity, as well as an opportunity to continue -- and expand -- the fight for equality,” said Robert M. Califf, M.D., Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The struggles for equality by LGBTQI+ individuals have seen enormous success, thanks to the commitment and courage of many, but we still have a long way to go and much that needs to be done. Many LGBTQI+ individuals still lack protections for fundamental rights and dignity in hospitals, schools, public accommodations, and other spaces, and do not have access to proper health care. Incidents of violence against the members of this community are still all too common. Pride Month offers us an opportunity to redouble our commitment to achieving these goals.”

“While we observe Pride Month each June, nationwide efforts to improve health for LGBTQI+ people are a year-round effort,” said Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). “The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, along with the rest of the department, is hard at work improving data collection of LGBTQI+ health-related challenges and disparities to improve health outcomes for this important community.”

“As we recognize and celebrate the LGBTQI+ community this month and always, we at CDC are reflecting on their strength,” said Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “They have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to promote health in their community and drive change. Together, in solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community, we are committed to addressing current public health threats and preventing stigma and discrimination to work towards a healthier future for all people.”

“Throughout Pride Month, we celebrate the hope, progress, and promise of LGBTQI+ Americans across the country,” said Lisa J. Pino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). “The HHS Office for Civil Rights is working every day to protect and defend LGBTQI+ persons from discrimination and bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity, especially as some states are targeting LGBTQI+ people and families with discriminatory bills that threaten their fundamental right to health care and human services. Ending discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community is a priority of the Biden-Harris Administration, and demands our continued focus and diligence.”

“Health care should be accessible, affordable, and delivered equitably to all, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “This Pride Month, CMS is proud to reaffirm our commitment to ensure the health care system is free from discrimination and harassment that may deter LGBTQI+ people from accessing the care they need. Working together we can truly break down barriers to care, eliminate disparities and provide better access to quality health care for people who rely on coverage through Medicare, Medicaid & CHIP, and the Marketplaces.”

“This Pride Month, we celebrate the LGBTQI+ community as we also stand together to address the challenges ahead,” said Carole Johnson, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). “We’ve made important strides in expanding equitable access to health care through HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HRSA-supported community health centers, but the work is far from done. We’re committed to reaching individuals who aren’t yet engaged in care, helping all individuals with HIV live longer, healthier lives, and partnering with community leaders to make high-quality and culturally-responsive health care welcoming, available, accessible, and affordable for the LGBTQI+ community.”

“During Pride Month, we’re reminded that celebrating our differences is vital to who we are as individuals and a society,” said Robert “Bob” Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A, Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) “It’s also crucial to our mission at AHRQ. Everyone deserves to receive safe, high-value, quality health care services, regardless of their economic status, religion, race, ethnicity – or their sexual orientation. When we embrace that approach, we’re best able to respond to the health care needs of LGBTQI+ people, and their family members, friends, and loved ones.”

“NIH is proud to work with colleagues from across the Department to increase our understanding of LGBTQI+ health through research and increased data collection,” said Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Pride month is a time for us to reflect on our accomplishments and to re-affirm our commitment towards achieving health equity for all LGBTQI+ Americans.”

“At the Indian Health Service, we support equal access to health services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Two-Spirit American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and their families,” said Elizabeth Fowler, Acting Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS). “IHS is working to close the health disparities gap that currently exist for Native LGBTQ-Two-Spirit people. This Pride Month IHS celebrates our LGBTQ-Two-Spirit relatives.”

“During Pride Month we celebrate and honor the resilience of LGBTQI+ Americans and stand beside them in the fight against the bullying, harassment, and discrimination that have resulted in persistent behavioral health disparities,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “SAMHSA is fully committed to advancing solutions to these inequities and enhancing the well-being of the LGBTQI+ community.”

“I am honored to work in an Administration that is focused on equity and inclusivity,” said Marvin Figueroa, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA). “As we start Pride month, I am proud of the commitment of Secretary Becerra and all of HHS to protect access to care for all Americans – especially the LGBTQI+ community. I look forward to joining my colleagues in celebrating the contributions of the LGBTQI+ community and recommitting to ending discrimination and ensuring protections for all.”

The Progress Pride Flag is a variation of the Rainbow Pride Flag that includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQI+ communities of color, along with the pink, light blue, and white stripes to represent the transgender community. The additional colors were added in a chevron shape to represent forward movement and to place a greater emphasis on “inclusion and progression”.

Earlier this year, Secretary Becerra announced several immediate actions HHS is taking to protect LGBTQI+ youths’ access to health care, including:

  • Releasing guidance to state child welfare agencies through an Information Memorandum that makes clear that states should use their child welfare systems to advance safety and support for LGBTQI+ youth, which importantly can include access to gender-affirming care;
  • Releasing guidance on patient privacy to clarify that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—commonly referred to as HIPAA—does not require health care providers to disclose private patient information related to gender-affirming care; and
  • Issuing guidance making clear that categorical denials of health care based on a patient’s gender identity are prohibited discrimination, as is restricting doctors and health care providers from providing medically necessary care because of a patient's gender identity.
  • These actions and others are detailed on HHS' LGBTQI+ website and are part of the Department's work to ensure that transgender communities – youth, adults, families, caretakers, and providers – have the resources they need to protect the health care of transgender individuals.

If you believe that you or another party has been discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or disability in seeking to access gender-affirming care, you can visit HHS' Office for Civil Rights complaint portal to file a complaint online.