Pride Month: Promoting LGBT+ Inclusivity in Healthcare

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender +

The LGBT+ community is a vibrant one! It represents and embraces diverse identities regarding gender and sexual orientation which may fall outside societal norms and expectations. Society is generally shaped around heterosexuality (attraction to the opposite gender) which poses numerous challenges and discrimination towards those of the LGBT+ community. Pride Month marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which fought for and transformed gay rights in America; it celebrates diversity and serves as a time to raise awareness and educate all of us on the issues and challenges that still affect the community.


Identity and Wellbeing

There are still high reports of inequalities within the healthcare industry with conversations around sexuality still being deemed as uncomfortable. This can be damaging for members of the LGBT+ community as it may prevent them from being able to express or disclose their identity. When a person enters a care home, as identified in previous research, there is a pattern of identity being incredibly important for that person’s well-being. For many in this community, their sexual identity plays a large role in their ability to express themselves, so it is vital they feel safe to do this.


The Importance of Education

Lack of education and subsequent misunderstandings plays a large role. The older generation likely lived in a time when homosexuality was illegal and therefore may feel more uncomfortable around the topic. Care homes, in some cases, may be regarded as primarily heterosexual spaces, making it uncomfortable for people to express their identity and may even feel the need to hide it out of fear of discrimination or mistreatment from both staff and residents. This highlights the need for planning with minority groups such as these in mind, to ensure no one is singled out. A great way to do this may be through collaborating with the service users themselves, educating others through experiences and being mindful of gender-inclusive language.


Improving Communication

There has been a lot of talk on the use of neutral language to help, using pronouns such as they/them until there is confirmation of preference. As with many things, good communication, specifically considering how you communicate can have a big impact. There are suggestions with consent to ask these questions in a form to fill out prior to medical appointments. Not only does this ensure that medical professionals can be aware of what support is needed without putting the individual on the spot, but it can also be a visual indicator that they are supportive of LGBT+ people. Visual indicators in general such as pride flags and rainbow symbols can also have a role in putting people at ease.


Here are some useful terms to know:


Bi/Bisexual – attraction to more than one gender, e.g., both men and women


Cisgender or Cis – Someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.


Closeted – someone hiding the fact they are part of the LGBT+ Community.


Coming out – the person sharing to others that they are part of the LGBT+ Community.


Gay -This can be applied to anyone who is attracted to the same gender as themselves, although it is generally referred to when men are attracted to other men.


Gender – Often expressed as male or female, it is defined by certain characteristics which are socially constructed and may vary for different cultures.


Gender identity – Considering the socially constructed characteristics of gender. Gender identity is how you feel you fit into this. For many, it aligns with how they are biologically but for others, it may not.


Heterosexual/straight – this is a person who is attracted exclusively to the opposite sex as them. E.g., Men being attracted to just women.


Homosexual – An umbrella term for someone who is attracted to the same gender as themselves.


Lesbian – when a woman is attracted to other women.


Non-Binary- someone who feels they cannot be defined as male or female.


Pronouns – referring to someone’s gender e.g., he/him, she/her, they/ them.


Sex – is the gender you are born with based on reproductive organs.


Transgender – someone whose gender identity is different to the one they were born with. E.g., a Man identifying as a Woman.


Check out: for a full list.


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