On March 8th, Kelli did a workshop called When the Rainbow Meets The White Coat: Advocating for Better Health Care for LGBT Students on College Campuses at the Five College Gender and Sexuality Conference at Hampshire College.
Students, alumni, staff, and health care providers all showed up for the conversation. Here are some of the talking points and tactics the group came up with. If you have any additional suggestions, please add them to the comments so this can be an ongoing conversation.
WHY BOTHER ADVOCATING FOR A CHANGE?
Remember: as a student you have a lot of consumer power, because you are not only buying insurance, you are paying TUITION. In capitalism money talks. But you know that.
Also remember: YOU DESERVE HEALTH CARE
Got that? Say it with us: I DESERVE HEALTH CARE.
Research supports that healthcare patterns we start when we’re younger continue when we’re older. If culturally competent healthcare isn’t available at the college level, many LGBT people will delay care for a long time.
“HOW TO” POINTS
Identify the problem (is it a single provider? System-wide?). This includes defining what is NOT the problem.
Identify a clear solution. It should be something concrete. You might want to start with something easy to change. Forms are a great idea. Ask other colleges what they’re using, or check out the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association website for suggested changes to intake forms. Intake forms are a great place to start because they are self perpetuating. Providers might think “there are no LGBT patients in our practice” until they start asking more sensitive questions. Then, people start to identify as LGBT and providers realize “oh hey, I do have LGBT patients!”
Find research, research in a peer reviewed journal that that supports what you want (if you can’t find what you want, email firstname.lastname@example.org, she’ll try and help you look)
Research what other schools that your administration sees at competition for yours Make the comparisons with other similar schools.
Prepare an elevator speech: a 45 second pitch about why LGBT students on campus need this action you are requesting.
Make it seem easy to change,
-Other student groups
-Faculty (especially TENURED faculty who have less to lose)
-Alumni, especially MONEYED alumni. (who are the buildings named after? Is that person or family likely to side with you? Contact them!)
Schools are afraid of liability (it’s why they send students that they seem as potentially sucidal home on medical leave) so introduce that concept early and often. Find cases where schools have been sued for similar incidents.
If your school is blocking you on ideological grounds, keep going back to what it will cost them financially. Often what seems like an ideological problem can mysteriously be dissolved by fear of a lawsuit.
More thoughts? Comment and share!