LGBT people come from all walks of life and experience many of the same health problems as non-LGBT people. This means that every organizational policy and procedure may impact the experience of LGBT people. To create an LGBT-affirming and inclusive environment, it is important to examine policies and procedures. A new publication from The Fenway Institute’s National LGBT Health Education Center reviews some common updates to organizational forms and polices to create an affirming and inclusive environment for LGBT patients, and reviews strategies to modify procedures, behavior, and language to be inclusive of all patients.
Focus on Forms and Policy: Creating an Inclusive Environment for LGBT Patients outlines a number of key areas where modifying policy, especially regarding language, can help LGBT people feel welcome and safe in a health care setting. For example, it is very important to pay attention to the ways in which policies define patients’ families.
“We recommend defining families as broadly as possible, so that partners, children, and even friends who have no legal status are included in accordance with patients’ wishes,” the brief states. Additionally, gender neutral and LGBT-inclusive language should be included in registration and medical history forms.
It is imperative for any nondiscrimination or employment policies in the organization to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This is especially important given the history of LGBT people facing discrimination in health care.
Health care providers should also routinely collect data around sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as sexual history, to best serve a diverse community and the unique needs of each individual patient.
The full brief can be downloaded here.