Given the high number of LGBTQ+ people who avoid medical care for fear of discrimination, making sure your child feels safe and comfortable with their healthcare provider is a crucial part of advocating for their wellbeing. Today we’ll talk about why LGBTQ-friendly care is so important and how you can best help your child.
For LGBTQ+ people, getting access to quality healthcare in the U.S. is complicated. In addition to the barriers that most people experience related to insurance, cost, geography, etc., more than half of LGBTQ+ people have experienced some kind of discrimination from healthcare professionals. Because of those experiences, about 1 in 6 LGBTQ+ people say they avoid medical care for fear of discrimination4.
Finding an Accepting Provider
As parents of LGBTQ+ children and teens, one crucial way to support them on their journey is to make sure they know their healthcare rights and know how to find an accepting provider. If your child came out to you recently and you’re still having trouble processing that information, this may seem overwhelming. The good news is that finding a provider that your child feels comfortable talking to means that you’ll have another supportive adult on your child’s team.
The other good news is that it’s now easier than ever to find an LGBTQ-affirming provider in your area thanks to the plethora of directories available for free online. OutCare is one of the largest directories and they have a variety of additional resources for patients and providers available on their site. The LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory is another great search engine where you can search by the type of provider you’re looking for and/or your zip code.
If you’re in a more rural or remote area and you can’t find an affirming pediatrician for your child in these directories, sometimes the best way to find out if a provider is LGBTQ+ friendly is to just ask1. If that’s not an option either, try looking for an affirming therapist who will be someone your child can talk to openly about their lives.
Your LGBTQ+ Child’s Healthcare Rights
Hospitals that are accredited by The Joint Commission (which is most hospitals) aren’t allowed to discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation, but many don’t have written policies or staff with the proper training on treating LGBTQ+ patients5. Fortunately, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) put together this Health Care Bill of Rights that you can download and refer to when you’re unsure.
We recommend downloading this document and reading it through with your LGBTQ+ child. Not only will it empower them to stand up for their rights, but it’s also a great opportunity to show your child love and support. If you’ve been having trouble talking about their identity, these kinds of more structured conversations can help both of you open up.
Lack of Education about LGBTQ+ Health Issues
We still have a long way to go in terms of training and education about LGBTQ+ issues for healthcare providers. It’s important to understand that it’s not just about being “friendly” towards LGBTQ+ people. It’s about understanding how sexual orientation and gender identity affect health and well-being, and knowing what questions to ask and how to talk to an LGBTQ+ patient so they feel comfortable enough to tell the truth about their lives6.
Positive early experiences in healthcare set our LGBTQ+ kids up for success as they get older and start to navigate these systems on their own. Knowing that they have rights and that there are affirming, supportive doctors out there will go a long way to keeping your child healthy and happy.
- How to Look for an LGBTQ-friendly Pediatrician, HuffPost
- For LGBTQ people, finding a family doctor can be tough, The Star
- For LGBTQ people friendly health care is important but can be hard to find, American Heart Association
- Know Your Healthcare Rights, HRC
- Tips for Finding a Healthcare Professional Who’s an LGBTQIA+ Ally, Healthline