10 ways doctors and providers can measure up on LGBTQ healthcare

Things to look for before choosing a medical, dental or healthcare provider, from top down, waiting room to exam room, staff policies to community engagement.

Board, Management & Senior Staff Engaged

Proactive efforts to build an LGBTQ-inclusive environment in provider offices start at the top. Regularly engage and survey, casually and formally, queer staff and clients.

Practices & Policies Reflect LGBTQ Needs

Families are inclusively defined in official language. Non-discrimination policies spell out support and consequences for infractions. Support services and visitation should be inclusive of LGBTQ family members.

Outreach & Engagement

This can include co- sponsoring or hosting community events, recognizing LGBTQ awareness “holidays” such as LGBT Health Week, National Coming Out Day or Transgender Day of Remembrance, organizing a Pride parade contingency, soliciting LGBTQ board members and advisors, and advocating when appropriate on local issues of importance to LGBTQ patience. 

Cultural-Affirming Training

For all staff and clinicians, whether or not their official capacity is to interact with clients and patients.

Processes & Forms 

Registration forms ask patients about sexual orientation and gender identity to ensure closeted patients feel recognized and affirmed. Asks preferred as well as “official” names and identifications. Asks gender neutral relationship questions, and identity-inclusive family planning and gynecology questions.

Opt-in Data Collection

Because LGBTQ people face health disparities, the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity information can help provide screening and preventive care that can address those disparities. Anonymous reporting to national commissions can help nationally if patient consents.

Routine Sexual Histories

Collects updates for all adult and adolescent patients, and solicits discussions broader than just behavior and associated risks for HIV and STDs. Should include sexual function, satisfaction, desires, trauma or abuse, and LGBTQ family planning.

LGBTQ-specific Clinical Services

This includes hormone therapy for transgender patients, family planning for same-sex couples, PrEP availability for gay and bisexual men, cervical and cancer screenings for lesbians, trans men and bisexual women. Can also include things like smoking cessation assistance for all of the above due to probability statistics.

Welcoming Environment

Do depictions include LGBTQ people and families? Are there non-traditional representations of gender? Are waiting area reading materials queer inclusive? Are restrooms all-gender or single-user?

LGBTQ Staffing

Can ask if they recruit and retain queer members on staff, as well as offer employee benefits packages inclusive of same-sex partners and transition-related expenses.

Source: lgbthealtheducation.org

If you have other questions or need referrals, Georgia is lucky to have a local LGBTQ resource in queer Atlanta's own The Health Initiative.

This feature originally ran in Q magazine. Read the full issue online here:

Pick up a new edition of Q each week at LGBTQ and queer-friendly venues around town, and read more of our 10 Queer Things listicles here.