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LGBTQI healthcare saves lives

Pinnacle MHN held a two hour LGBTQI (an umbrella term often used to describe all sexual and gender minorities including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and intersex) education session earlier this month, with support from the Waikato Queer Youth organisation and Waikato DHB Sexual Health Clinic.

Topics discussed ranged from homophobic bullying in schools and tragic incidents of hate crime, to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people facing outdated prejudice because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, during their lives.

"Discrimination is unacceptable in any form, but as health professionals do we understand the causes of inequality and use targeted health approaches in dealing with the consequences?" says Rawiri Blundell, Pinnacle MHN Māori health manager who organised the session alongside Micheal Brown, senior project manager. "We must change attitudes and challenge discrimination wherever it occurs and at whatever stage in health."

Some of the take home messages included the impact of negative stereotyping and conscious and unconscious bias on wellbeing, wellbeing privilege, barriers for gender and sexually diverse patients and the simple actions that can be taken to make practices friendlier and inclusive to LGBTQI patients.

"There are very few health providers and hospitals in the country reported as being supportive and sensitive health services for gender and sexually diverse people," says Shane Way from Waikato Queer Youth. "Gender and sexually diverse people are more likely to avoid care for preventative and urgent or life threatening conditions because of fear of how they will be treated or previous clinical experience..."

"Negative healthcare experiences are common for LGBTQI people," says Dr Jane Morgan, from Waikato DHB Sexual Health Clinic but "primary health care for LGBTQI patients is essentially the same as primary health care for anyone else." Be an advocate she says. "LGBTQI healthcare saves lives."

Some simple actions that can be taken to make practices friendlier and inclusive to LGBTQI patients.

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