The LGBTQ community faces societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of civil and human rights. These discriminations can result in high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide according to Healthy People 2020, a government initiative to improve the safety, health, and well-being of LGBTQ individuals. An NPR poll found nearly 1 in 5 LGBTQ adults avoided seeking medical care in fear of discrimination.
Many physicians feel inadequately trained for LGBTQ patients. In a 2018 survey, 80% of 658 students at New England medical schools felt “not competent” or “somewhat not competent” with treating gender and sexual minority patients. A number of studies reflect the poor curriculum of medical schools to prepare future doctors’ understanding of LGBTQ individual’s health needs.
- Harvard Medical School’s new Sexual and Gender Minorities Health Equity Initiative is a three-year plan to identify opportunities to improve the core medical school curriculum for the health of gender and sexual minorities. A $1.5 million gift from a transgender man, Perry Cohen, helped launch this initiative in December 2018.
- Sarah Spiegel, a medical student at New York Medical College, helped transform LGBTQ focused content in the foundational course through student advocacy and administration meetings. A BuzzFeed video and 30-minute lecture turned into seven hours within two years.
Good news: Recently, New York banned conversion therapy. Mental health professionals will no longer be allowed to try and “change” a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (G.E.N.D.A.) was also passed, discrimination and hate crime laws now protect gender identity.
Image Source: GLMA Nursing