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Community Standards of Practice for Provision of Quality Health Care Services for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Clients
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The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Health Access Project is a collaborative, community-based program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). The Project's mission is to foster the development and implementation of comprehensive, culturally appropriate, quality health promotion policies and health care services for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people and their families. Research has indicated that fear of discrimination and stigma cause many GLBT individuals to postpone or decline seeking medical care. Others, once in care, sometimes withhold from their providers personal information which may be critical to their wellbeing.

Working closely with consumers and clinicians across the state, the GLBT Health Access Project works to confront the insensitivity and ignorance that many GLBT people have experienced in accessing health care and related services. Additionally, the Project seeks to support GLBT individuals in understanding and acquiring the quality care they need. The Community Standards of Practice contained here provide a benchmark for both providers and consumers in the development of and search for welcoming, culturally competent and responsive care.

The need for Community Standards emerged from several sources, including a statewide provider survey and a 1997 GLBT Health Access Project report, Health Concerns of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community. Among other things these reports detailed a serious lack of GLBT awareness and understanding among health care providers in Massachusetts. Some believed they had no GLBT clients or staff in their facilities; many were unsure about what their role should be in identifying and addressing GLBT issues; few had policies in place to guide personnel or consumers.

To address these concerns, the GLBT Health Access Project convened a community Working Group of over 60 consumers, providers, public and private agency administrators and staff. Over the course of a year, the group worked to develop a framework to improve GLBT access to quality care and to assist clinicians and their facilities in creating responsive environments. The working group's efforts were guided by four principles: (1) the elimination of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; (2) the promotion and provision of full and equal access to services; (3) the elimination of stigmatization of GLBT people and their families; and (4) the creation of health service environments where it is safe for people to be "out" to their providers. (Authors)
Boston, MA
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services