An essay about health professionals' attitudes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents seeking healthcare for their children

Rose Chapman, Tessie Zappia, Linda Shields
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences 2012, 26 (2): 333-9

BACKGROUND: This paper is a polemic essay about an important but sometimes controversial subject. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) clients can be reluctant to reveal their sexual orientation to health professionals from whom they may be seeking health care for their children. Family-centred care (FCC), where care is planned around the whole family not just the individual child, is widely used across the world, but unless all aspects of the families who present for care are respected, care delivery is compromised. This is particularly important for minority groups and potentially vulnerable families such as LGBT.

AIM: This descriptive essay discusses the use of health services by LGBT parents, how seeking health care is influenced by perceived perceptions of LGBT people held by health professionals, and examines factors affecting such seeking of health care.

DISCUSSION: We show that LGBT people may be unwilling to disclose sexual identity to health professionals when seeking health care for their children. Health professional's attitudes can be affected by factors such as gender, age, religious and political affiliations, education level and previous interactions with LGBT people.

CONCLUSION: We conclude our argument with the assertion that all parents, including those from minority groups such as LGBT, who bring their children for health care need supportive family-centred care, and only by ensuring that the health professionals delivering care are well educated about all aspects of sexuality will care be family-centred.

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