What is the LGBTQ+ Task Force?
The LGBTQ+ task force is a committee of healthcare professionals building capacity for inclusion. The task forces aim is to raise awareness about healthcare practices and processes that impact the LGBTQ+ community at Hamilton Health Sciences.
Why is there a committee for LGBTQ+ issues; what about other marginalized communties?
At HHS we have seen homophobia and transphobia in action. Examples include: LGBTQ+ posters being defaced, 'jokes' and dispariging comments being made about individuals are some of the discriminatory acts we have been made aware of. We have been made aware of cases where employees have harassed their own colleagues. We are aware of health care professionals who have refused to treat patients due to the sexual orientation of the individual or that of the patient's parents.
Patients, staff and visitors have all brought forward concerns about improper treatment in regards to LGBTQ+ issues in our workplace; ones that they felt could compromise their health care and/or their human rights. This committee was developed to address the isolation and marginalization of this group within our hospital community.
In addition, we are aware that other forms of discrimination occur, but experience shows that many people feel less comfortable addressing LGBTQ+ harassment. HHS has chosen to proactively address this more hidden aspect of discrimination as this community crosses all boundaries of race, ethnicity and gender.
What does the LGBTQ+ Steering Committee seek to do?
The LGBTQ+ steering committee seeks to raise awareness and provide education on LGBTQ+ issues. The committee has created an introductory Awareness Workshop, which aims to increase attentiveness among HHS staff and physicians to this issue. It further provides a Positive Space Workshop to assist HHS in becoming a hospital where the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters are comfortable receiving care.
How does this relate to the work that I do at HHS?
It is everyone's role to enhance the patient care experience. Educating yourself about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community helps our patients. It is also in line with our corporate code of conduct and reflects the hospital's values.
This may not seem important, especially if they're presented with a problem seemingly unrelated to their sexuality, but we know that gay and lesbian persons are less likely to seek medical intervention due to fears of discrimination, misunderstandings or poor prior experiences with healthcare professionals.
We also need to educate ourselves that the LGBTQ+ community has specific health-care needs. As an example, an unidentified transgender individual may inadvertently receive medications that are contraindicated to their hormone treatments. At the very least, it is up to us as HHS staff, physicians and volunteers to help create an environment that is not oppressive to our colleagues, patients, families and visitors.
How will the education session work? Is this mandatory?
Education sessions are based on adult learning principles with theoretical and practical components. All leaders and staff at HHS will want to participate to keep themselves current with this education to ensure excellence in their chosen field of work.
I treat everybody the same. What's the big deal?
We want to recognize the uniqueness in everybody and meet their individual needs. If we don't, we risk endangering our patient's health, lives and well-being.
This really isn't an issue for my generation. We accept diversity.
We've found the general experience at the hospital has not been as inviting. Even within our social circles we can get lured into thinking we're all the same enlightened page. For example, we've been told about open, aware parents who were shocked to hear their own children saying, "You're gay!" in the playground.