11.24 One Colorado Calls for Responsible COVID-19 Crisis Management to Protect Our Young People

Denver, CO — One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families, is calling for action from school districts in response to the statewide spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Colorado has experienced a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the last few months, reaching a peak on November 12th, with a record high of 6,518 reported cases in one day. Within the same week, 66 separate outbreaks were recorded as a result of education and childcare facilities. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advises that all educational instruction be done remotely if there is a moderate or high COVID-19 incidence in the community. This week, the CDPHE has moved 15 counties into a “level red” indicating severe risk. As a result of the increasing severity of community transmission, One Colorado is urging school districts to implement reasonable safety precautions for all students, and move to remote learning. 

“Colorado is currently facing the highest three-day averages in COVID-19 cases that we have experienced throughout this pandemic. The LGBTQ community in Colorado, including our students and educators, is at greater risk for severe cases of this illness due to discrimination in health care as well as higher rates of tobacco use and immunocompromising health conditions. In order to keep all members of our community safe, we are urging school districts across our state to prioritize their students’ and staff’s wellbeing over politics and resume remote learning until our case numbers are once again within the public health guidelines for safe in-person instruction established by scientific consensus at the beginning of this pandemic.” – Alexander Wamboldt, PhD (he, him) – One Colorado Youth & Schools Program Manager

“One Colorado supports safe schools for LGBTQ students and educators across Colorado. Unfortunately, in school learning is not safe for LGBTQ students and educators right now. Contracting COVID-19 creates immediate health concerns for members of our community, and we will not know for some time what, if any, long-term health consequences of COVID-19 may cause. LGBTQ Coloradans already face barriers to accessing clinically competent and culturally responsive health care while also facing discrimination in many other aspects of their lives. We need to protect our LGBTQ students and educators from infection during this time of heightened risk.” – Marvyn Allen (they/them & he/him) – One Colorado Health Equity and Training Director

COVID-19 could adversely affect the lives and livelihood of LGBTQ young people at disproportionate rates, as they are more likely than the general population to encounter barriers to both physical and mental health care.

  • LGBTQ people are at higher risk for severe cases of COVID-19 for several factors:
    • Pre-existing health disparities faced by LGBTQ Coloradans make them less likely to be able to access medical care, and mean that a disproportionate amount of LGBTQ Coloradans already live in a state of compromised health.
    • LGBTQ people experience higher rates of cancer and under-treated HIV infection than the general population. As a result, a higher proportion of LGBTQ people have compromised immune systems.
    • Tobacco-use rates among LGBTQ people are 50% higher than the general population; smokers are at particularly high risk for severe cases of the respiratory illness, COVID-19.
  • Physical distancing, economic strain, and increased anxiety related to COVID-19 may impact LGBTQ youth, but virtual learning can still provide LGBTQ young people with a safe and affirming community. The Trevor Project advises schools to continue Gender and Sexuality Alliance involvement virtually because GSAs “significantly reduce the risk for depression and increase well-being among LGBTQ youth”. 
    •  If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678-678.