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C. Kelly Smith

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equity Group (SOGI Equity)


The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has formed a large, multidisciplinary team which is working to improve LGBTTQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two-Spirit, Queer and Questioning) public health policies, systems, and environmental change. LGBTTQQ individuals often face a variety of healthcare challenges, including identifying and accessing providers knowledgeable about their health risks and behaviors and who provide culturally affirming care. LGBTTQQ health is also intersectional - sexual orientation and gender identity/expression are important parts of a person's identity, but there are often other demographic factors influencing access to care.

What we do

  • Ensure that our health surveillance systems include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Offer training to our staff to improve our ability to respond to LGBTTQQ health inquiries
  • Build relationships with other organizations to improve LGBTTQQ health equity statewide
  • Provide resources and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic
    National LGBT Cancer Network: Coronavirus Information


  • Formed a large LGBTTQQ Equity Work Group with committees on Data and Surveillance, Training, Public Accommodations, Health Communications, and RIDOH Pride Planning
  • Assessed, reviewed, and learned from LGBTTQQ Equity projects being done by other state and local public health agencies
  • Advocated successfully for inclusion of U.S. Centers for Disease Control's optional module on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Rhode Island's adult Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the inclusion of a gender identity question on high school Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), beginning in 2016
  • Began planning to integrate routine inclusion of LGBTTQQ identity questions into all relevant RIDOH surveillance activities
  • Participated in RI PRIDE and organized a Listening Forum on LGBTTQQ Health and Safety with the City of Providence
  • Incorporated LGBTQ health equity content into the 2016 RIDOH Health Equity Summit
  • Worked with other state departments to create plans for all-gender bathroom at RIDOH (anticipated by 2018)
  • Developing a list of resources (see below) that Rhode Island LGBTTQQ community members may find helpful in accessing culturally proficient healthcare.





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