Pride Month may have recently concluded, but that doesn’t mean that the focus on providing inclusive care for the LGBTQ+ community will stop.
While inequities for many groups have long existed in the health care system — it was COVID-19 that seemingly thrust them into the spotlight. Although much work has been done to build more inclusive environments, the LGBTQ+ community still deals with worse health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts. Stigmatization, hate-violence, and discrimination are still significant barriers to the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Consider the following:
- LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to have higher rates of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. (Healthy People 2020)
- According to national crime data analysis by the Williams Institute of UCLA School of Law, LGBTQ+ people are nearly four times more likely to experience violence. This includes rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault.
- Research suggests that LGBTQ+ individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons have been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. (Healthy People 2020)
- 15% of LGBTQ Americans report postponing or avoiding medical treatment due to discrimination, including nearly 3 in 10 transgender individuals. (The State of the LGBTQ Community in 2020)
Those in the LGBTQ+ community are less likely to have health insurance and more likely to delay care. They also are more likely to be refused care. There is a paramount need for more safe, affirming, and competent providers — including those sensitive to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. That’s why it is critically important for those in the LGBTQ+ community to trust their provider and feel comfortable in fully discussing all health needs. Understanding disparities and choosing the right interventions are crucial to helping the LGBTQ+ community achieve equity in the quality of care. Your hospitals are uniquely positioned to effect this change and have the power to make sensitivity and inclusivity the norm in the medical world. While there is no easy or simple solution, by recognizing and understanding the health needs of LGBTQ+ individuals and striving to provide the best care possible, your hospitals’ impact will be positive.