Celebrating LGBTQI+ History Month
Creating a culture of belonging
To begin addressing the issues in healthcare, an increase in visibility and representation is crucial. Being seen and heard is vital, not just for ourselves, but for others around us in order to make meaningful connections.
The LGBT+ Pharmacists' Network
Launched by the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) in April 2020, the LGBT+ Pharmacists' Network provides a structure that allows members to work together to proactively address and campaign around sexual orientation discrimination and its causes and consequences.
Open to all UK pharmacists (including former pharmacists and pharmacy graduates), LGBT+ network members are able to share their advice and experiences and are taking action that will contribute towards an equal world.
Identifying the issues in pharmacy
In addition to negatively affecting pharmacy professionals, the health inequality issues present in the industry can trickle down, also impacting the members of society it serves. For example, while some LGBTQI+ people may be open about their identities with healthcare professionals, others may fear discrimination or experience barriers to accessing services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The shocking statistics
A 2018 report from Stonewall found 23% of patients had witnessed negative remarks about LGBTQI+ people from healthcare staff while accessing services. One in seven members of the LGBTQI+ community reported avoiding treatment altogether for the fear of the discrimination they may face, and a quarter of LGBTQI+ people face a lack of understanding of their specific health needs, which increases to 62% for trans patients.
In working to increase the visibility, history and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community around the world, there's much to celebrate, but there's still more to do to raise awareness – a sentiment echoed by Daniela Rusalim, LGBT+ Network member and National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP) Vice-President:
“As a society and profession, we have come a long way, but let's not stop here, because there is so much more to do to fight bias and discrimination. We need to continue to raise awareness, so let us all take this opportunity to increase the visibility of the LGBT+ community, celebrate their lives and experiences, and fight for equality and inclusion in the workplace and in everyday life.”
And while some pharmacy professionals may already have inclusive practices, smaller things can get overlooked – like the use of terminology. There are many terms people might not understand – such as bisexual, pansexual or genderfluid, that need to be brought to the forefront.
Harnessing the power of support
For those who wish to show support or need it themselves – the organisation Pride in Practice provides a range of support services for LGBTQI+ people, and also works with healthcare professionals to make public services more accessible and inclusive for LGBTQI+ communities.
You don't need to be a member of the community to show your support, and a small gesture can have a hugely positive impact. By being an active ally, not only will you give LGBTQI+ pharmacy professionals the freedom to realise their full potential, but also LGBTQI+ patients the confidence to seek the healthcare treatment they need – and deserve.