Practises for Organizational LGBQ Inclusion
Adopt LGBQ affirmative recruiting, hiring and compensation practices. Ensure that employee recruitment and selection processes are not biased against LGBTQ individuals, allowing for equal hire. For example, open positions could be advertised in LGBTQ periodicals and/or events. This will lead to appropriate representation and visibility of sexual and gender diverse individuals within the healthcare workforce. Such policies can also entail addressing LGBQ specific concerns, such as extending to unmarried same-sex partners of employees.
Include sexual orientation in your non-discrimination policies. Policies protecting patients and staff against discrimination should explicitly acknowledge discrimination based on people’s actual or assumed sexual orientation. Anti-discrimination policies should be sensitive toward situations such as denial of healthcare services, subpar or suboptimal care provision, and unequal opportunities in relation to LGBQ-identified individuals within the healthcare setting.
Monitor LGBQ issues within the organization. When conducting employee satisfaction surveys or addressing matters of organizational development, make sure to include LGBT issues. Through this means, you can collect relevant information to continue fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment.
Develop training strategies for all staff members. Training in LGBTQ-affirmative care and cultural competency should be available to all staff members who have a direct or indirect role in the provision of health care services. This includes clinical staff, front-line staff, and administrative staff. Fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment is an organization-wide effort.
Identify an LGBTQ2 “champion”. A staff member who is knowledgeable about LGBTQ2 identities, health needs, and social stressors would stand as an asset for inclusive service provision. This individual can help patients feel represented and comfortable, provide their insight as to how to adequately meet their needs, and keep tabs on the organization to keep it moving forward toward inclusivity.
Employ inclusive intake and medical forms. Ensure that all registration forms and medical history forms are inclusive of LGBTQ2 identities and their relationships (i.e., family) by including questions that inquire about sexual orientation. Make sure to include an option in which if the individual does not feel comfortable conveying that information, they can choose not to do it.
Create a welcoming and inclusive environment. Employ LGBTQ2 imagery and symbols of inclusivity to convey acceptance and visibility of sexual and gender-diverse patients. However, such a strategy should be contingent upon ensuring that LGBTQ2 folks will actually be cared for appropriately by all staff members within the healthcare setting; in other words, do not portray the organization as LGBTQ2 inclusive when that is not.
Make information accessible. Collaborate or partner up with community organizations and charities to divulge information on the LGBTQ2-oriented services that are provided by your institution. Even when high-quality, inclusive programs and services are available, LGBTQ2-identified individuals may not be aware of their existence.
Advocate for clear mechanisms of accountability. LGBTQ2 patients should be aware of the appropriate steps to be taken when filing complaints or contacting regulatory bodies in cases of discrimination or subpar care provision. Such information must be readily available to allow to hold those service providers who engage in discriminatory practices accountable.
Practises for LGBQ-Inclusive Service Provision
Maintain a non-judgemental attitude. To ensure that patients feel that you are creating a safe space, avoid showing judgement in response to their description or presentation of diverse behaviours, identities and expressions. This approach can involve avoiding showing disapproval or monitoring your reactions (i.e., surprise) in words or body language. Be mindful of your body language that may be sending an unintended message of disapproval, such as shaking your head “no” or raising your eyebrows.
Understand the diversity and fluidity of gender and sexual expression. There is a wide variety of sexual and gender identities, and identity can also change across time. For example, some people fluidly express their gender and may present themselves in means that are consistent with different gender identities on different days.
Avoid asking unnecessary questions. When asking questions to a client, it is essential to be mindful of the purpose of your querying. Though there may be genuine curiosity in questions about an LGBTQ2 person’s life, these are only relevant if they are significant to the client’s care. Before asking a client a question about their experiences, ensure that it is necessary for you to provide them with the best care possible, rather than just out of curiosity.
Offer appropriate services and advocate for inclusive programs. Health care services should meet the specific needs of LGBTQ2 patients. Their needs span both mental and physical health conditions and go way beyond HIV and STI screening and prevention. Attention should be put to allow for the diversification of services toward these populations (i.e., support groups, screening for mental health problems, interventions for problematic substance use).
Collect relevant data on LGBTQ2 health. When appropriate, collect patient data on sexual orientation and gender identity to include on their electronic health records, in an attempt to further understand and study local LGBTQ2 people’s health needs. This process should be, of course, in line with regulations regarding the collection of personal health information (i.e., PHIPA) and according to ethical considerations (i.e., informed consent).
Strive to be up to date on best practices with LGBTQ2 folks. Seek regular training to update your knowledge on best practices in the provision of healthcare services to LGBTQ2 individuals. There are numerous ongoing research projects that provide relevant, recent information about how to care appropriately for sexual and gender minorities.