Tag Archives: environmental justice

DHEC Raises Awareness During Pride Month

June is Pride Month, and June 27 is Pride Day. These are opportunities to celebrate achievements by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and acknowledge challenges these individuals may face when it comes to public health and environmental justice.  

“Pride month, and Pride celebrations in general, are a vital part of the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Billy Wiggins, Director of Clinical Services for the DHEC Public Health Bureau of Community Health Services, and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. “Celebrations, such as Pride, provide important moments of visibility and understanding. In honor of Pride Month, people are encouraged to take some time to learn more about the challenges, accomplishments, and diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

LGBTQIA+ community stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.   

Pride celebrations started as protests dating back to the Stonewall riots in June 1969 New York City (NYC). In 2016 the Stonewall site in NYC was declared a national monument.

To recognize the meaningful impact that our LGBTQIA+ community has had in the fields of environmental protection and public health, we’ve spotlighted several notable public figures who have and/or are making a difference in our communities.

“For almost 15 years DHEC’s STD/HIV and viral hepatitis division has partnered with SC Pride to offer outreach and testing services during the annual Pride festival,” said Tony Price, Prevention Program Manager of that Division. “DHEC has provided free testing for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C. At some of the events, DHEC has also provided vaccines for hepatitis A/B and influenza. The division has enjoyed a strong partnership with SC Pride, its leadership, and participants in the past. We look forward to continuing our efforts to support the LGBTQIA+ community with our health promotion and outreach programs.” 

Public Health 

Two notable public health figures who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community are Michael J. Kaplan and Dr. Rachel Levine.

Kaplan is currently the President and CEO of Melanoma Research Alliance, and before that he was President and CEO of Washington, DC-based AIDS United. During his 25 years of executive non-profit and public health leadership experience, Kaplan has proven to be a supporter of health research and policy, mainly in the area of serving people living with HIV/AIDS in the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Levine became the first openly transgender federal official in a Senate-confirmed role earlier this year when she was named Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. She has served as: Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health; Pennsylvania’s Physician General; Vice-Chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics; and Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. In addition to her recent posts in medicine and government, Dr. Levine is an accomplished speaker and author of numerous publications on the opioid crisis, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBT medicine. 

As for public health challenges, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are five times as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to attempt suicide, and 40 percent of transgender adults report having attempted suicide. According to a 2017 study from the University of Chicago, “Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America.” LGBT youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness compared to their heterosexual counterparts, according to the CDC. More information on LGBTQIA+ health is available on the CDC’s website.

Environmental Affairs

DHEC uses the definition created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to define Environmental Justice (EJ) “as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Our agency’s five EJ principles are: 

  1. Ensure that Environmental Justice Communities are Routinely Considered Throughout Decision-Making Processes. 
  2. Proactively Build and Strengthen Relationships with Communities by Sharing Information, Providing Technical Assistance, and Identifying Resources. 
  3. Proactively Promote Partnerships Between Communities and Other Stakeholders. 
  4. Encourage and Facilitate Capacity Building and Collaborative Problem Solving Within Environmental Justice Communities. 
  5. Strengthen Our Agency’s Leadership with the Goal of Sustaining Environmental Justice within SC DHEC. 

You can learn more about EJ by clicking here.  A few members of LGBTQIA+ community that are notable for their contributions to the environment are: 

Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose influential book “Silent Spring” and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. “Silent Spring” was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. 

Mahri Monson, an Environmental Protection Specialist for the EPA, describes her work as “enforcing U.S. environmental laws, addressing serious pollution problems to protect communities and the environment.” A proponent of green infrastructure, Monson’s work strategizes storm management and mitigates sewer overflows, providing environmental and social benefits for communities throughout the country. Monson also worked alongside co-workers to create a policy concerning transgender and gender nonconforming EPA employees, including a guide to transitioning at the EPA and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. 

 

From Other Blogs: High-quality summer meals for children, environmental justice, staying safe in a tornado & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

‘Turnip the Beet’ Recognizes High-Quality Summer Meals for our Nation’s Kids

There are millions of America’s youth who do not have access to nutritious meals when school is not in session. Offering nutritious meals to our nation’s children and teens that are appetizing, appealing and wholesome is a responsibility USDA takes very seriously. — From the US Department of Agriculture blog

Achieving Tangible Results for Vulnerable Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its Environmental Justice FY2017 Progress Report today. It is noteworthy that 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. The accomplishments highlighted in the report affirm through action how, after a quarter century of progress, environmental justice (EJ) is deeply ingrained in EPA’s fabric. — From the Environmental Protection Agency/s (EPA) blog

Staying Safe in a Tornado

To stay safe during a tornado, prepare a plan and an emergency kit, stay aware of weather conditions during thunderstorms, know the best places to shelter both indoors and outdoors, and always protect your head. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Your Health — Your Environment blog

It’s a Small World After All

The United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has proclaimed April 2018 as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. The goal of IPPDAM is to: increase public awareness of invasive species; provide tips to prevent their spread; and, encourage residents to report signs of them. Today we highlight USDA’s Heather Coady. Ms. Coady, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) employees like her, assist other countries in their pest control efforts by working to stop pests at the source. — From the USDA blog

The U.S. Drought Monitor: A Resource for Farmers, Ranchers and Foresters

Even before the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, agricultural producers have recognized the economic and emotional devastation that drought can cause. Recently, the focus has shifted from dealing with drought as an unexpected hazard, to more proactive planning for the inevitability of drought. One of the tools available to producers is the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), a weekly map of drought conditions produced jointly by the USDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. — From the USDA blog

From Other Blogs: Flu vaccine, tips to help you quit smoking, environmental justice & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Everyone can be a flu vaccine advocate!

With the holidays quickly approaching, there will be more opportunities to spend time with family and friends.  Now is the time to ensure that you and those around you are protected from flu. Now is the time to get your seasonal flu vaccine if you haven’t already gotten it. — From the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Public Health Matters blog

Preparing to quit: 10 tips to help you quit smoking

Each year, on the third Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society encourages smokers to quit during the Great American Smokeout. Most people who smoke want to quit, but they also know quitting is hard…it can take several attempts to succeed. Here are some tips to help you quit for good … — From the CDC’s Public Health Matters blog

25 Years of Environmental Justice at the EPA

For a quarter of a century, the EPA has worked to address the environmental and public health concerns of minority, low-income and indigenous communities.  I have been blessed to be a part of this effort since its first steps. The Agency’s decision to establish the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ), initially called the Office of Environmental Equity, stemmed from the recommendations of the EPA Environmental Equity Work Group, which was formed by Administrator Bill Reilly in 1990 to “review the evidence that racial minority and low-income communities bear a disproportionate risk burden.”  — From The EPA Blog

Have A Food-Safe Holiday Season

Last year, more than 46 million turkeys were carved and eaten at Thanksgiving. Turkey is typically accompanied by a host of side dishes and desserts, making the Thanksgiving meal by far one of the largest meals most people will cook this year. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Blog