A bill signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday makes Colorado just the sixth state to require the collection of sexual orientation or gender identity data, more commonly known as SOGI data, as part of a broader effort to use demographic health data to address inequities.
House Bill 22-1157 requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to collect information regarding patients’ sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity and disability status. Five other states, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Vermont, have enacted similar policies.
Before HB 22-1157, CDPHE had no requirement to collect SOGI data, which gives insight into historically underserved populations that have faced disproportionate health impacts, according to a statement from Out Boulder County.
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“This bill will ensure we can begin addressing the health disparities we know about and those we aren’t aware of yet,” said Mardi Moore, executive director of Out Boulder County.
While collecting information on race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality is a common practice across healthcare agencies, the lack of regulation is likely skewing data. Before, many people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary were underrepresented, and almost 22% of Hispanic or Latino Coloradans were not being recorded consistently without requiring ethnicity data collection.
The law also requires health equity commission reports that address social determinants of health. The law does not require patients to give their information, but they can choose to provide it. Data provided is privacy protected, which Moore said can be a concern for individuals in the LGBTQ community.
“Members of the LGBTQ community want to be represented in public health data and want their privacy protected. This law accomplishes both of those goals,” said Moore. “It should not be surprising to anyone that our community has concerns about the government having identifying information related to sexual orientation and gender identity.”
A working group will aid CDPHE in the collection of data. The group will consist of one member from CDPHE, three members of the Health Equity Commission, three members of nonprofit organizations, individuals with disabilities and individuals with experience in underserved racial and ethnic communities.
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