Indian Health Service sets second meeting to discuss LGBT issues

Acting Indian Health Service Director Robert McSwain addresses the July 27, 2015, meeting in Rockville, Maryland. Photo by Andrew Bahl for Indianz.Com

The Indian Health Service will hold another meeting to discuss lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in Indian Country.

On July 27, the agency held what officials and attendees called a "historic" meeting at its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. It was the first time that IHS discussed issues facing the often-overlooked Two Spirit community.

"This is critical, this is such a historic meeting and this is the first of many," acting IHS director Robert McSwain, who has worked at the agency for nearly 40 years, said at the time.

McSwain is already living up to his promise of more meetings. The next one will be held on September 11 in a more accessible location -- the headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.

The public will get a chance to comment at the meeting, a notice published in today's issue of the Federal Register states. Written comments can also be submitted.

Topics at the July meeting included the U.S. Supreme Court decision that requires all states to recognize same-sex marriage. The IHS is prepared to provide service to same-sex couples, a senior advisor to McSwain said at the time.

In a 2014 report, the Department of Health and Human Services said the IHS was planning to establish an advisory committee to address LGBT / Two Spirit issues. Similar committees exist for other subject areas at the agency.

The report also said the Administration for Native Americans was developing "mandatory" training for its senior management on LGBT / Two Spirit issues. The agency vowed to reach out to groups that serve the community as well.

Elsewhere in the federal government, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is working on a rule to bar discrimination against LGBT individuals who are seeking housing in Indian Country. There isn't a concrete timeline for the proposal.

Federal Register Notices:
Meeting on American Indian/Alaska Native Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues (August 26, 2015)
Meeting on American Indian/Alaska Native Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues (July 22, 2015)
Notice of Request for Information (June 5, 2015)

Related Stories
Indian Health Service discusses LGBT issues at 'historic' meeting (07/28)
IHS requests public comment on LGBT issues in Indian Country (06/22)

Join the Conversation