At Teen Health Mississippi, we believe that everyone deserves to feel safe, included, and respected when accessing healthcare services, regardless of their gender identity or expression.
However, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) continue to face a range of disparities in the healthcare system, which are often only magnified when it comes to LGBTQ+ teens and young adults.
The Need for Inclusive Healthcare
All people should be included and considered in healthcare practices and policies, including sexual and reproductive healthcare. Period.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many in the LGBTQ+ community. In an article on tailoring sexual and reproductive healthcare for LGBTQ+ people, the Guttmacher Institute identifies a series of barriers to comprehensive care for those who identify as LGBTQ+, including fragmentation of health services, discrimination from providers, and insurance issues.
For example, this study found that all sexual minority groups, except lesbians, were more likely to have a teen pregnancy and an abortion than their heterosexual peers. Another study found that queer women access preventive screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer at a much lower rate than their heterosexual peers.
All of this points to gaping holes in our healthcare system, including harmful obstacles to contraception, routine preventative care, and inclusive sex education.
Luckily, there are LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers filling the gaps, offering inclusive health services, and setting a good example for others in the field. Like our youth-friendly healthcare qualities, LGBTQ-friendly healthcare means established policies and practices exist to make every patient feel safe, included, and cared for when they visit.
- Accessible and Affordable Services: Services should be affordable and accessible for those who identify as LGBTQ+.
- Confidentiality: People who identify as LGBTQ+ deserve confidential access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including contraceptives.
- Reproductive and Sexual Health Care: LGBTQ-specific protocols exist for reproductive and sexual health services.
- Staff Development: Professional development ensures continued learning around inclusive healthcare practices.
For more clinical guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations on Providing Quality Family Planning Services were created to be inclusive for all patients, including those who identify as LGBTQ+, youth, racial and ethnic minorities, those with limited English proficiency, and people living with disabilities.
Finding LGBTQ-Friendly Healthcare
There are a variety of tools and resources to help you find LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers and facilities near you.
The Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) created a provider directory of LGBTQ-friendly providers in every state. In Mississippi, the results include provider options for those living in or near Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Tupelo.
Healthcare Equality Index
The Healthcare Equality Index is a tool that evaluates healthcare facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees. You can search their database of more than 1,700 healthcare facilities, many being hospitals, by your state, city, zip code, or the name of a specific facility. It includes qualities (present or absent) like “Non-discrimination & Staff Training”, “Patient Services & Support” and “Patient & Community Engagement”.
They also provide some helpful resources for LGBTQ patients.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shares a list of LGBT health clinics by state and city, which includes the Open Arms Healthcare Center in Jackson. There is also the Center for LGBTQ Health at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Many healthcare providers and facilities will also mention that they are LGBTQ-friendly on their website, meaning they’ll appear in search results for searches like “LGBTQ-friendly doctors in [your city], Mississippi”.
While we’re far from inclusive and equitable healthcare for everyone, there are organizations, providers, and facilities that are working to make a difference in the healthcare experiences of LGBTQ+ patients.