Thursday, 5 March 2009

LGBT Staff and Patients

So how many open LGBT staff do you know? How many patients are open about themselves? How many have introduced their partner?

A new report released by the University of Leeds about LGBT issues and support. A quick breakdown of the students and staff they asked showed that universities are not as open as they seem. Especially for staff. Actually, today on a similar thread CB was talking about lecturers not being open and accepting of students with mental health issues.

So why are universities, where you would think that you could be any person you wanted to be, are so closed off to the most vulnerable of students?

My last uni had a large supportive network for their LGBT students. The current one has nothing on this campus. Well nothing visible. The flip side of this is that old uni had no obvious provision for students requiring special help. Most of the learning disabled students seemed to get their provision direct from the school they studied within. Current uni has on-site counsellor and dedicated department for special needs students.

There is no standard. Aside from discrimination policies. And we've all seen how well that worked for me.

But back to relating this to health care.... How many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual staff do you work with? How many are out?

The NHS is still institutionally homophobic. Only 2 NHS trusts made it onto the Stonewall top 100 this year. That's pretty poor considering the numbers of police squads and councils. The BBC reported that there is an extremely low level of screenings done on Lesbians for cervical cancer. Once upon a time I was told that I didn't need one... cos you're gay, you don't sleep with men (That by the way is total BS). Time to change that! It shouldn't be this way but perhaps it's not at the top where the problems lie.

While you are thinking about the staff, how many have made openly homophobic comments? How many have referred to something as 'gay'?

Is this were our problems lie? I think so. Let's take my last placement as an example. At the top the Sister and one of the Deputies knew and were supportive. 2 nurses and a CSW knew and didn't bat an eyelid. But there were at least 4 homophobic comments in my presence (none directed at me but I try to keep a low profile). How can LGBT staff feel comfortable about themselves when they know they can't really talk about it?
Don't give me that "you don't have to talk about yourself like that" nonsense. I sat through a break where 3 people talked constantly about their up coming weddings. How would they have taken it if I had talked about a civil partnership? (Not that I have anything to talk about in that respect though.)

There 15 mins of thinking and I found the root of the problem. People.

Bugger can't fix that by myself.


cb said...

It's a really interesting point.One thing that jumps out in the Stonewall list is that there are a fair few local councils and the differences in attitude between the local authority and NHS is one that I hadn't really picked up on. I suppose too, because in the Trust I work in we have quite a fairly visible open gay and lesbian members of staff and there is no question that any different or discriminatory treatment would be called out, perhaps because they include one of the consultants - which has DEFINITELY made the atmosphere better for others working in the same setting - because who is going to make snide remarks about the sexuality of the ward staff, if the consultant is out and openly so?
It sounds really unpleasant for you but I think it's more than people - it is how the culture (and by that I mean the working culture) tolerates them.

WardBunny said...

We're back full circle at the institutional homophobia again. If the situation doesn't change the same cycle of abuse, tolerance of abuse and fear of change will continue.
One strong person to break the cycle and it will stop.
You're right about the culture but it will take the people within it to change anything.

cellar_door said...

Our place is getting better, slowly. We had an openly gay nursing assistant start recently and suddenly everyone was coming out of the closet...think it just took that one brave soul to start it off. I think it's made people think more about what they're saying now that it's out in the open more. It's still far from perfect, but it's a start...

Anonymous said...

In my first nursing job, my preceptor was commenting on a policy and said "it's so gay..." as I looked at her with a smirk on my face. She said "Oh, you're not gay, are you?" Well, you should have seen the look on her face when I said I was. While I thought it was funny at the time, it wasn't funny a few months down the road when she and another, apparently homophobic nurse, filed a sexual harrassment claim against me. It seems that when you show care or compassion to a female co-worker, when you are heterosexual, that's not considered harrassment. However, if you are a lesbian, showing the same care and compassion is. Luckily, I've only experienced this with homophobic co-workers and now that I'm at a different hospital, everyone is open, accepting and supportive of me, my partner and my family. It's just sad that there are still uninformed, nieve, judgemental people out there.

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