Sharing Pride: How Healthcare Organizations Can Make LGBT Patients & Families Feel At Home

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Hands of many skin colors making the "thumbs up" gesture over a rainbow flag background.

June is National Pride Month, a celebration of the diversity, creativity, and resilience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities in the United States. Once celebrated in one day, it’s evolved into a month-long series of events, including parades, parties, and concerts. It also includes memorials that honor community trailblazers and those who have died from AIDS or were killed in hate crimes. 

Pride doesn’t end in July, and neither do the stresses or challenges of being LGBT+,especially in healthcare spaces. Some may think of Pride as only addressing issues like marriage and other civil rights, but it also includes health equity. The LGBT+ civil rights movement and health equity have always been closely connected because of the health and healthcare disparities experienced by the LGBT+ community.

Activism and advocacy by LGBT+ groups led to the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index, a benchmarking tool used by hundreds of hospitals nationwide to help make their organizations more LGBT-inclusive. The Joint Commission also has a handbook on issues and practices for LGBT-centered care in hospitals, which is a useful resource for any healthcare professional.

There are many things that healthcare organizations can do to help create more welcoming environments for LGBT+ patients and families.

  • Actively recruit LGBT+ employees and providers who are LGBT+-friendly and knowledgeable
  • Engage LGBT+ patients and families as advisors on panels or committees for improving care
  • Provide literature in lobbies and waiting rooms that reflect the lives of LGBT+ patients and families
  • Use  gender-neutral language such as spouse, partner, significant other, parent, or caregiver; avoid using sir/ma’am and his/her and instead address people as “you” or “their”
  • Provide education and training for staff on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) terms and issues in clinical care
  • Ask patients for SOGI information to get to know them and their needs better
  • Reach out to LGBT+ organizations in the community your hospital serves and establish partnerships

By affirming LGBT+ patients and families, these best practices can help your healthcare organization recognize Pride all year long.  What are you doing to be more inclusive of LGBT+ populations?  Tell us on Twitter: @MoreInclusiveHC, LinkedIn or Facebook.

By | 2019-06-29T13:48:59-05:00 June 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Vicki Summers
Vicki leads research projects and directs the development of educational products that promote culturally responsive interactions among staff and patients. She serves as MIH’s resident expert in sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), advising clients on the process of adopting and implementing policies, education, and practices that level-set the healthcare provided to LGBT+ patients. She also creates field guides, spotlight articles, presentations, webinars, and eLearning modules. Vicki earned her master’s degree in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of Cincinnati where she was trained in ethnography, cultural studies and research-based activism. She employs an interdisciplinary approach and brings a wide range of experience in pedagogy, curriculum development, and content publishing. Prior to joining MIH she taught Gender Studies courses at the undergraduate level and served in supervisory roles in nonprofit settings.

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