As a dental provider, you have an opportunity to become an ally and advocate for LGBTQ health equity. Showing your practice supports LBGTQ patients is about more than making changes to your office. It's about getting involved in the LGBTQ community.
What Drives Inequity in LGBTQ Dental Care?
LGBTQ health inequity has been a topic of discussion for some time. These individuals face more barriers to healthcare in general than their heterosexual cisgender counterparts.
None of these issues are something that any single provider can fix alone. If you want to build LGBTQ health equity for your patients, you should collaborate with other providers to change the system.
Becoming an Ally for LGBTQ Health Equity
There are things that you can do to boost health equity in your office. Training your staff on LGBTQ issues, using gender-neutral language, and symbolism that shows you are an ally are all effective ways to reassure your patients. But these steps only address LGBTQ health equity at a practice level. Dentists who want to be part of the overall solution need to work for systemic change. There are a few different ways that you can do that.
Volunteer at LGBTQ Health Clinics
The industry has already recognized the lack of care focused on LGBTQ patients who don't have resources. There are LGBTQ health clinics focused specifically on this community and they need dental experts as part of their teams. Dentists can volunteer at these clinics or offer slots at their practice to provide services free of charge.
Participate in LGBTQ Outreach Events
June’s status as Pride Month should give you opportunities to participate in LGBTQ outreach events like festivals, parades, and other activities. Dentists can get involved by offering free consultations or screenings, providing resources and information, and sponsoring events.
Advocate for LGBTQ Patients
Some LGBTQ patients report they have to educate their medical providers on LGBTQ issues. To advocate for them, you must understand the problems they face and the health disparities that affect them. Be knowledgeable and take steps to address them. Speak out against discrimination and support policies designed to improve health equity for these individuals.
Join LGBTQ-focused Organizations
LGBTQ organizations offer a directory of allied medical providers for patients in need of care. By working with these organizations, you can be included on these lists to overcome the fear of discrimination that often acts as a barrier to treatment.
Here are some organizations to consider becoming a part of;
- The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA): This is a collaborative group of healthcare professionals dedicated to driving LGBTQ health equity. They provide resources to patients and health care providers.
- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Healthcare Equality Index (HEI): This annual survey, in its 15th year, works with healthcare facilities to gather data and information on policies and practices relating to LGBTQ patients. Participation can help provide insight into how care can be improved.
- The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC): This is an organization that focuses on LGBTQ businesses. Joining the NGLCC can help providers work with others throughout different industries to support a wider range of community needs.
- Resources from the American Dental Association’s D&I Initiatives: The American Dental Association has developed a five-year diversity and inclusion plan built around driving LGBTQ health equity, among other issues. Dental providers can access a wide range of resources and suggestions including panel discussions, blogs, and networking opportunities.
- Out & Equal Workplace Advocates: This global nonprofit is specifically focused on helping to promote LGBTQ equality in the workplace. It offers educational resources, training, and networking events.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE): The NCTE is a non-profit organization that advocates for transgender rights and works to eliminate discrimination against transgender people in all areas of life.
Aside from these national and global opportunities, there may also be local LBGTQ causes you can get involved with. Research the organizations in your community to see if your support may help to drive health equity.
LBGTQ health equity is not something that can be tackled by a single practice alone. By joining organizations, advocating for your patients, volunteering your time, and immersing yourself in the community, you can help build a future where everyone feels comfortable seeking out and getting the care they need.