Secy. Kathleen Sebelius

In his Memorandum on Hospital Visitation executive order, President Barack Obama not only ordered hospitals to allow patients to designate visitors regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. He also directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to explore additional steps to improve the lives of LGBT people.

The department has created an internal LGBT coordinating committee “to ensure effective coordination of LGBT-related policies and the consideration of LGBT concerns throughout HHS’s activities.”

Today, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement about progress the department has made in addressing LGBT issues since then.

Effective today, all HHS employees are required to serve all individuals who are eligible for the Department’s programs without regard to any non-merit factor, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

On Thursday, the Institute of Medicine released a study on LGBT health to identify research gaps and opportunities related to LGBT health.

In March, the department changed its equal employment policy “to explicitly protect against unfair treatment of employees and applicants for employment based on gender identity and genetic information.”

The hospital visitation policy went into effect on Nov. 17, 2010. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will issue new guidelines in the coming months.

The department has done several things to protect LGBT youth. HHS hosted a White House conference last month to discuss the issue of bullying. HHS rules now require that all organizations serving runaway and homeless youth be equipped to serve LGBT youth.