LGBTQIA+ is the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and all sexual- and gender-minority people. There are 11.3 million people in the United States who identify as LGBTQIA+, which is around 4.5% of the population.
It is important for those working in health care to be inclusive in their practice, as well to be aware of health concerns for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Creating Inclusive Environments
There are several steps nursing professionals can take to ensure that members of the LGBTQIA+ community feel included:
- Display brochures and educational handouts about LBGTQIA+ health concerns.
- Visibly post a nondiscrimination statement.
- Create forms and paperwork that use terms such as partner, significant other, spouse, parent or guardian and always have an option to mark “not applicable.”
Inclusive Communication Tips
- Ask your patient their sexual orientation, gender identity, names, preferred name and pronouns.
- Document the information in the electronic health record (EHR).
- Use the patient’s chosen name and pronouns.
- Recheck and confirm the patient’s chosen name and pronouns at all visits.
- Mirror the language being used by your patient.
Health Concerns for the LGBTQIA+ Community
- Higher risk of substance abuse
- Higher rates of sexually transmitted infections
- Higher rates of breast and cervical cancers
- Higher risk of bullying and discrimination
- Higher risk of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and suicide
Definitions and Terms to Know
- Gender identity – a person’s inner sense of being male, female, another gender or having no gender
- Transgender – denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex
- Nonbinary – an umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female
- Gender fluid – describes a person whose gender identity is not fixed and may feel more aligned with a certain gender some of the time, another gender some of the time, and sometimes no gender at all
- Cisgender – a term used to describe people whose gender identity aligns with society’s expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth
- Pangender – noting or relating to a person whose gender identity is not limited to one gender and who may feel like a member of genders at the same time
- Sexual orientation – how a person characterizes their emotional or physical attraction to others. Also, how a person identifies (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual)
- Lesbian – a sexual orientation that describes a woman who is primarily emotionally and physically attracted to other women
- Gay – a sexual orientation that describes people who are primarily emotionally and physically attracted to people of the same sex or gender as themselves. Also, describes men who are primarily attracted to men, but can also describe women attracted to women
- Bisexual – a sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally or physically attracted to people of all genders
- Pansexual – a sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and physically attracted to people of all gender identities, or whose attractions are not related to other people’s gender.
- Ze/hir/hirs (gender-neutral pronouns can be used to refer to people who are non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, trans and/or don’t identify with the gender binary)
Things to Remember
- Learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community
- Be aware of LGBTIA+ definitions
- Create a welcoming environment for LGBTQIA+ patients, their families and support
- Use inclusive language
- Use gender-neutral language
- Ask open-ended questions
- Be respectful
Resources and Training to Learn More
There are a number of resources available for health care professionals to learn more including:
- National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center
- CDC – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health
- Human Rights Campaign Healthcare Equality Index
By: Denise Lindstrom, EKU Online DNP Student
Advance Your Nursing Career
Earn your degree online from a university that has been an online education leader for more than 15 years. Our online format provides students the ability to complete assignments according to their schedule. EKU offers online nursing degree and certificate options from RN-BSN to MSN and post-MSN certificates to DNP.
Complete the form to learn more about how EKU Online’s sport management program can help advance your career.