Governor Cuomo says New York State is the first state in the nation to launch a coordinated effort to collect demographic data for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people.
Eight state agencies either currently collect or will begin to collect LGBT demographic information in an effort to address health disparities that affect that community.
Scott Fearing, executive director of Rochester's Gay Alliance, says it's critical that the state is taking the lead on an initiative like this.
"We're at a very important time in the LGBT community's coming out and being recognized by the medical community and by a lot of other systems, and to have state agencies on board will be an important part in that process."
Fearing says without statistics about the LGBT community, health officials won't be aware of the issues they face.
He says one concern is substance abuse, caused by feelings of rejection by a person's family and friends or the society at large. Some elder LGBT individuals don’t get necessary medical care because they’re afraid of coming out to health care providers. "Part of that is from their history. If I'm 80-years old now, within my own lifetime, I could have been forcibly institutionalized or lobotomized if I admitted to being a homosexual."
Fearing says it's crucial that members of the LGBT community become comfortable sharing information about their sexual and gender identity with state agencies so their demographic data can be counted.