Proud to Care for All - Healthcare & LGBTQ+ Advocacy

June 02, 2021

Proud to Care for All - Healthcare & LGBTQ+ Advocacy

Happy Pride Month Riot Healers!

As we just launched our “Proud to Care for All” campaign, I wanted to take some time reflecting on the inspiration behind the design.
 
*First, I would like to note I will be using the term LGBTQ+ during this post as an umbrella term for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community. I acknowledge that this term may be limiting, and that there is a tremendous amount of diversity among these groups. The intersection of gender identity and/or sexual orientation must also be considered across race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, disability, and so much more. To me, this "Proud to Care for All" design stands for, celebrates, respects, and affirms ALL forms of diversity for ALL people - inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. 
 
While I love our "Proud to Care for All" design, Pride Month is so much more than rainbow-filled merchandise or re-posting an aesthetically pleasing graphic on your insta-story. I believe we as healthcare professionals have a responsibility to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community this month, and every month. Here's why:
 

LGBTQ+ Barriers to Care

People of the LGBTQ+ community experience many barriers to care including limited access, past negative experiences with prejudice, stigma, discrimination, and/or have had negative interactions with providers that lack knowledge/experience in caring for LGBTQ+ people (1). On top of that, there is a significant scarcity of full-range healthcare services specific for LGBTQ+ people. These factors can all deter LGBTQ+ people from seeking and obtaining the care they need and deserve.
 

LGBTQ+ Health Disparities

It wasn’t until 2016 that the National Institute of Health (NIH) designated Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) populations an official Health Disparity Population for NIH research (2). In highlighting a few of the many health disparities (1,3,4):

 

  • LGBTQ+ youth are 2-3x more likely to attempt suicide
  • LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • LGBTQ+ people have higher rates of stress, alcohol use, drug use, depression, anxiety, and are more likely to smoke
  • LGBTQ+ people are less likely to get preventive services for cancer
  • Elderly LGBTQ+ individuals face additional barriers to health care due to isolation, lack of family supports, and decreased availability of social services

Healthcare Worker's Responsibility

Unless we as healthcare workers educate ourselves and communicate our understanding about these barriers to care and health concerns, LGBTQ+ health disparities will continue on. One blog post could never come close to touching the amount of advocacy the LGBTQ+ community deserves. Below I will share a few starting points but more importantly, resources and references to continue on.

Action List

  1. Healthcare workers can educate themselves about people’s identities, experiences, and open perspective on how previous healthcare experiences may affect patient’s health.
  2. Address any implicit biases – check out this Implicit and Provider Bias training which is available for CME credit.
  3. Never assume, and always use appropriate communication and language with all patients. Check out this helpful post.
  4. Urge your health center, hospital, clinic or healthcare organizations to create environments that are safe, affirming, and welcoming for all. Read over these Ten Strategies on how to do so!
  5. Continue education to reduce discrimination, stigma and healthcare disparities around gender identity and/or sexual orientation (see below).

Resources for LGBTQ+ Learning and Advocacy

Donation

In commitment and solidarity with our LGBTQ+ community, 10% of our profits this month from our "Proud to Care for All" collection will be donated to The Center on Halsted. Additionally, 100% OF PROFITS of our "Proud to Care for All" print + buttons will also be donated – this month and every month. Whether worn individually or displayed in your place of work, these pieces are meant to provide affirming messages to all patients at all times, not just during Pride Month.
 
The Center on Halsted is the Midwest's most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ people in Chicago. With more than 1,000 community members visiting the Center every day, the Center on Halsted welcomes, affirms, and celebrates diversity in all of its forms.

References

  1. National LGBT Health Education Center (2016). Providing Inclusive Services and Care for LGBT People: A Guide for Health Care Staff. Retrieved from https://www.lgbtqiahealtheducation.org/wp-content/uploads/Providing-Inclusive-Services-and-Care-for-LGBT-People.pdf
  2. National Institute of Health (2016). Director’s Message: Sexual and Gender Minorities Formally Designated as a Health Disparity Population for Research Purposes. Retrieved from https://www.nimhd.nih.gov/about/directors-corner/messages/message_10-06-16.html
  3. Healthy People 2020. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health. www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgenderhealth
  4. Institute of Medicine (IOM). (2011). The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. iom.edu/Reports/2011/The-Health-of-Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-and-Transgender-People.aspx

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