Queering Environmental Justice: Unequal Environmental Health Burden on the LGBTQ plus Community

Michelle L. Bell and 1 other contributor

On This Page


    The LGBTQ1 (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/-sexual, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and all subsects) population has been the target of federal and state discriminatory policies leading to high levels of institutional discrimination in the housing, employment, and health sectors. Social determinants of health such as housing conditions, economic opportunities, and access to health care may negatively and disproportionately affect the LGBTQ1 population and reduce their capacity to respond to environmental harm (e.g., obtaining necessary medical care). Social determinants of health have been shown to be associated with unequal harmful environmental exposure, primarily along lines of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. However, chronic diseases, such as respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, associated with environmental exposure have been shown to occur in higher rates in the LGBTQ1 population than in the cisgender, heterosexual population. We explore how environmental exposures may disproportionately affect the LGBTQ1 population through examples of environmental exposures, health risks that have been linked to environmental exposures, and social institutions that could affect resilience to environmental stressors for this population. We provide recommendations for policymakers, public health officials, and researchers.