LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The “Q” was added and stands for questioning or queer. Questioning refers to when an individual is uncertain of his or her orientation. Queer has a complicated history as it was often used as a derogatory term. Now it serves as an umbrella term that encompasses many people as it intersects with sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ people face a common set of challenges in accessing culturally competent services.
The LGBTQ community is diverse, and includes people of all races and ethnicities, all ages and all socioeconomic statuses. LGBTQ individuals face discrimination in school, at work, at home and within their community. Those perceived as having a different sexual orientation or gender identity are twice as likely to be bullied. Stigma-based bullying may cause stress and have long-term physical and mental health consequences.
The impact of family rejection, bullying and the messages they hear about being LGBTQ weigh heavily on our youth. Many LGBTQ youth can thrive when their school and parents create a safe and supportive environment. Sexual orientation and gender identity should never lead to discrimination or abuse.
As the US sees an explosion in those 65 years of age and older, the aging LGBTQ community is expected to grow in leaps and bounds as well. In just 10 years, the number of older LGBTQ adults will more than double. LGBTQ older adults often do not access aging services out of fear of harassment or discrimination which prevents many from seeking out the care they need.
There is a need for culturally competent medical care and prevention services that are specific to the LGBTQ population. Social inequality is often associated with poorer health status, and sexual orientation has been associated with multiple health threats.
Understanding more about cultural differences will help promote health and wellbeing for all. Resources such as the federally funded National Resource Center on LGBT Aging have been created to provide training and tools to aging providers, LGBTQ organizations and LGBTQ older people themselves, ensuring that the LGBTQ community will be able to age with dignity and respect.
Cultural competence is an awareness of the differences in our society and being sensitive to these differences. To help us gain awareness, we must first become aware of our own cultural views, attitudes, and values. Cultural awareness allows us to respect and value other cultures and to reduce cultural barriers. OCES aspires to welcome everyone without exception. All individuals should be treated with respect regardless of their differences. Here are some helpful links.