Penny Starr, CNSNews.com
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke at the first “Federal LGBT Youth Summit” on Monday after being introduced by a homosexual on her staff, who said the secretary “gets us” and is “tireless” in her support of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender youth.
“Your federal government has finally come out of the closet in support of LGBT youth,” said Pam Hyde, HHS administrator for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.
“It’s great to see so many young faces out there, all gay and proud,” Hyde said.
Sebelius congratulated the teens and 20-somethings for attending the summit and said the goal of the summit was to “really tackle the issues facing the LGBT youth in our country.”
The LGBT Youth Summit was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and is being held at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. on June 6 and 7.
“Since President Obama took office in January 2009 he has led a commitment, shared by all those in his administration, to make sure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have a chance to reach their full potential,” Sebelius said.
Sebelius said LGBT people have a “strong voice” and that the Obama administration hears it.
“I want to tell you, you have a friend in this administration, who will stand beside you each and every step along the way,” Sebelius said.
Sebelius also said LGBT youth are more likely to experience depression, thoughts of suicide, have other emotional problems or abuse drugs or alcohol.
“We know these behaviors are not the result of who these young people are,” Sebelius said. “They are the result of what’s happening to them.”
Sebelius went on to say a federal interagency taskforce is partnering the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, Defense, Interior and Justice to come up with strategies and programs to fight bullying.
Sebelius also said the health care law signed into law by the Obama administration will encourage health care providers to address the “unique needs” of LGBT patients and will make health care workers “culturally competent” to deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients.
She also said the HHS is working with the federal child welfare system to “place LGBT children in loving homes.”