Basic Rights Oregon’s Racial Justice & Alliance Building program has actively been supporting our coalition partners in the capitol to advance key racial justice policies in Oregon.
The most recent victory is House Bill 2611 which passed on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 and will be signed into law. This bill allows tracking and reporting of cultural competency continuing education for health care professionals. A growing body of research recognizes that disparities in health care quality are a result of long-term barriers between the health care system and communities being served, especially between providers and potential patients. This is especially true for communities of color, LGB and trans communities (50 % of transgender people reported having to teach their own medical providers about transgender care**) and especially LGBT people of color. Community member Nancy Haque shares her personal story:
“I think there are a lot of tricky things about navigating the world as a queer person. People don’t look at me and say, “Wow, she looks gay or lesbian!” We definitely live in a world of assumed heterosexuality. Where that has been a major problem for me has been at the doctor. I’ve had a challenging few years of having multiple issues going on with my reproductive health and that’s where it’s been the hardest. There seems to be a supreme lack of cultural competency around sexual orientation. Doctors really don’t know what to do or say when you’re a very different person than who they assume you are.
A few years ago I had a sudden health crisis and I was in a lot of pain and I had no idea what was wrong with me. Neither did the doctor when he first saw me. The doctor was trying to talk to me about some of my sexual history. I explained that my partner was a female and he said, “You mean you’re a –“ . And he stopped himself. I don’t know what he was going to say but it was just this really awful moment of, “Oh my god.” I didn’t know what was happening to my body, the doctor is telling me that I probably should go straight to the hospital, my partner is out of town and on top of it, the person who is supposed to be helping me, who I am half naked in front of, is fumbling and uncomfortable and looking at me with a look that said “ugh.” It was heartbreaking.
Just this week I got asked by a nurse about my husband. This nurse has seen my partner several times when she’s accompanied me to appointments. It’s not such a big deal but when you’ve seen the same doctor for the same issue over the course of a few years, you hope that they have at least a small sense of who you are. Overall, I just wish medical professionals were more knowledgeable and educated about dealing with LGBTQ patients. Some of us are people of color who don’t fit into any stereotype they have about LGBTQ folks. I don’t think it would be so hard, to not make assumptions about people and to do simple things like update intake forms, so that people can list their partner without having to cross out husband. It is simply a matter of respect.”
HB 2611 will help facilitate system-wide high-quality cultural competency training, which in turn will improve the standard of care for our communities.
The bill passed out of the Senate with a vote count of 26-2 with bipartisan support.
Basic Rights Oregon supports the HB 2611 because it will better serves LGBT communities of color in healthcare, is the right thing to do and at the core of our racial justice values.
Basic Rights Oregon staff and volunteers with HB 2611 coalition members Urban League of Portland, Oregon Action, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Oregon Student Association and Representative Keny-Guyer.
[JHJ1]KPB: Is she willing to share her full name?
AH: Does this conflict with her role as a board member in any way?