Missouri Case Study 12 – Sparking Interest from Rural Missouri Hospitals on LGBT Health

andrew shaughnessyBy: Andrew Shaughnessy
Manager of Public Policy, PROMO Missouri
@AndrewShag

Upon concluding the review process for our Mid-Missouri and Southeast Missouri hospitals, health advocates were faced with the challenge of sparking interest among rural hospital officials on a review of their LGBT welcoming policies. Knowing the formula for sparking interest among urban hospitals, we knew that rural outreach would be considerably different. Putting on our strategy caps, advocates came up with a road map to engage these hospitals.

One issue that we felt needed to be overcome was the assumption that LGBT health is not an issue in rural Missouri – quite the contrary. We know that LGBT folks exist and live in every county in Missouri and across the Nation and we know that they utilize health and social service facilities – just like any citizen. But, disproportionately sexual minorities experience poorer health outcomes than our heterosexual peers according to the Missouri Foundation for Health.  Often times this is because of the invisibility LGBT rural folks feel within health and social service policies – it was our task to break our invisibility.

With this, advocates set out by utilizing the community, and the tools we learned from our outreach with urban hospitals. Through a series of strategic mailers that included a report of the hospitals LGBT welcoming policies as well as copies of local news articles that focused on LGBT health, advocates began to engage these officials.

In our outreach to rural hospital officials, advocates developed four points:

1. Create a sense of urgency – by highlighting local news articles that focus on LGBT health we were able to break our invisibility and create a sense of urgency. In developing these pieces, we also helped to start a community dialogue on LGBT health and the issues associated, including the lack of regional LGBT welcoming policies.

2. Highlight successes to create credibility– knowing this was the first time that these hospital officials would have likely been engaged by LGBT advocates, we wanted to create credibility from the begin by highlighting our past successes with urban hospitals.

3. Report along with methodology – to let officials know how we came to our conclusion on their LGBT welcoming policies, further establishing credibility.

4. Clear ask from the officials.

To review the packet of information sent to rural hospitals, please click here.

In the next case study, we will outline the work of the LGBT health advocates in outreaching to these officials along with lessons learned in moving forward with rural outreach on LGBT health.

Missouri Case Study 11 – Reviewing LGBT Welcoming Policies in Rural Missouri Hospitals

andrew shaughnessyBy: Andrew Shaughnessy
Manager of Public Policy, PROMO Missouri
@AndrewShag

At the beginning of February 2015, LGBT advocates in Missouri began reviewing our second list of hospitals on their LGBT welcoming policies. Having successfully accomplished several LGBT policy victories during our first round of outreach, we began to tackle a new beast — rural Missouri.

Choosing 10 hospitals throughout the Mid-Missouri and Southeast Missouri region, we began our review. Reviewing rural hospital policies as an outsider can be difficult. Our researchers, however, presented themselves as regular patients that really only had one connection publicly* with these hospitals — their website. Herein lies several challenges to this research. Difficulties in the regular maintenance of a hospital’s website, problems with the lack of hospital organizational structure to allow for maintenance, and the years of slowly decreasing revenue adding to the lack of structure; could lead to possible inaccuracies from the data collected during the reviewing process. We, however, have not experienced any hospitals who have challenged our review.

How did we begin to review a rural hospital’s website?

  1. Identify hospital’s main website – for most rural hospitals this could be the website that their System had set-up, make sure to check both. If the hospital’s website links to the System network, then make sure to check the System website for their LGBT welcoming policies.
  2. Use search engine to identify key terms used by LGBT patients – this includes searching for terms such as “discrimination”, “sexual orientation”, “gender identity”, “visitation”, “patient rights”.
  3. Document and log policy research – in order to create the individualized reports, while also maintaining for your records whether policies do or do not exist before beginning our outreach.

Upon reviewing each hospital website, we concluded our findings and began to work on outreaching to those hospitals in hopes of sparking their interest in reviewing their policies. Next Missouri case study, find out the strategy used in outreaching to rural hospitals to spark their interest in LGBT welcoming policies.

“It’s Your Time To Shine!” 2014 LGBTQ Youth Regional Retreats Recap

Motivational-Inspirational-Life-Quotes-2243National Youth Pride Services recently hosted it’s 2014 “It’s Your Time To Shine” Regional Retreat series in Detroit, Michigan (Midwest), Columbia, South Carolina (South) and Washington D.C. (East) thanks to sponsors CenterLink, Lambda Legal, 3LW TV, South Carolina Black Pride, Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services and Al Sura. The retreat was designed to uplift, inspire and motivate the black LGBTQ youth communities in a way that had never been done before. Below, the retreat facilitator and participants recap the events of the three retreats.

In 2014 NYPS changed it mission and vision to be MORE uplifting, positive and empowering; to focus on the positive and less of the negative. We believe that people who are self-confident are more willing to help lift others. After All, winners help others win. Many people are looking for hope, and may just not know where to find it or how to get there. “One Shinning Moment” is our nationwide effort to uplift and inspire our target population. There is much to be said about all the negativity in our communities. This video, shown to all attendees, highlights some of the negative opinions about our community, but we feel this is our #OneShinningMoment to come up with solutions and move to the next level.

The goals of the retreats were to make sure each participant would leave the weekend knowing how to:

Live your life on purpose.

Not on “default.” Be Proactive. Make conscious and deliberate choices. When you don’t choose, circumstances choose for you and you are never leading: you are following or catching up—or worse, living in “default” mode.

Utilize your full potential.

Give what you’re doing your best and fullest attention. Be here now. Even if you’re not where you want to be, giving it half of your effort doesn’t move you forward. Master what you have at hand, for the sake of mastering it, and something will shift.

Live in the question.

There is nothing you cannot be, do, or have, so do not impose limitations on yourself. Instead of saying you can’t get there, ask “How can I get there?” Live in the affirmation of possibility rather than the declaration of negativity.

There is always a way, and it is being presented consistently, but you have to live in the question to be on the lookout for the answer.

Learn to say “No.”

To live your best possible life, you need to learn how to say no to the things that aren’t serving you. The best barometer to measure this by is: if it isn’t a “hell yeah” (Yippee, so fun, can’t wait!), then it is most probably a no. If you have to talk yourself into it, it’s a no.

Once you get comfortable saying no, everything becomes a matter of choice. Living a life of choice is a living a life of freedom.

Know your own value.

Others may be more educated, skilled, or talented in one or another area, but there is something magnificent and valuable about what you have to offer this world that, in comparison, is equal.

Do not allow yourself or anyone else to diminish it. You have a learning disability? So did Dr.King, and that’s what makes him the most powerful speakers. Joe Vitale came from homelessness. Look at him now. Stop idolizing anyone else’s gifts and dismissing your own.

The Midwest version (June), the largest of the three, was held in conjunction with FIERCE, a national program working towards LGBTQ youth of color liberation and located at the Allied Media Conference at Wayne State University. Andrew Rahme, attended the Midwest Regional and based on his experiences and interactions during the weekend, actually became a member of NYPS. Here are some of his thoughts on the Detroit even which had a greater focus on community building and activism:

10383485_10203476696491931_6806017940715506034_nCreation, connection, and transformation are the words that come to mind when thinking about the Midwest Regional at the Allied Media Conference (AMC). Being a queer or trans person of color, it is reality that you have to constantly create solutions for yourself in order to live happily, and successfully. We create walls, stories, identities, spaces, and sometimes we even create realities different from the ones that we are confined to. At the AMC networking gathering, we had a chance to come together as QTPOC and identify the current issues to implement change in our community. Through games, laughter, relationship building, and amazing food, we discovered things about ourselves and about each other that allowed us to grow in ways we didn’t expect.

A very large focus of the network gathering at AMC was surrounded around connection. Connection to each other, to the world around us, and to our personal selves. We mapped out where our interests of change are and brainstormed what steps we can take to implement that change. We connected in ways we didn’t expect through common interests, experiences and the sharing of our wants, needs, hopes, and realities. Many of us began combining different realities and solutions in order to produce ideas for the most effective change.

The end result was inspiring and truly transforming. We got to be first hand witnesses of the beauty that comes out of organizing with QTPOC youth. Ideas as well as lasting relationships were created and strengthened, and to see what change these new alliances will create is exciting to watch for.

The South version (August) was held in Loft’s at The Claussen’s Inn. On Friday night all participants watched the video on the State of The Black LGBTQ Community. Some in the room agreed with some of the statements made, but the majority felt that there were some things that could be done to change the perception of what it is like to be black and LGBTQ.

On Saturday, the first session focused on a common theme in the video: “Status Anxiety”. This is the constant comparing of yourself to others. We looked at how the people you surround yourself with can be stressful and a few ways to get rid of status anxiety. Other issues touched on were: “Later Never Comes” (procrastination), Self Respect, Self Esteem, How Not To Care What Others Think About You as well as our other Life Development Series for Black LGBTQ young adults: “Dollars and Good Sense” and “Born To Win”.

Brandon Berry, of Orlando, FL gives his thoughts on the south retreat:

Brandon Dykes served as a facilitator for the South Region Retreat, as did Brandon Berry.

Brandon Dykes served as a facilitator for the South Region Retreat, as did Brandon Berry.

It was the epitome of comfort, which was a pleasant surprise to me. Imagine walking into a beautiful inn, rich with its area’s history and augmented tall ceiling including a large glass window clearly displaying the beautiful sky. Imagine a two-story loft for a room with all of the space necessary for yourself as well as any of your guests and fellow attendees. One would think no real productive work would be done. Contrary to that thought, we spent a majority of our days with each other having deep, lengthy and intelligent conversations. One of the highlights of this weekend is that great work took place in the comfort of our own rooms. It was a great experience.

I not only met strong and intelligent Black men of distinction, but I got to get personal with them and discuss life and goals and our journeys to our respective unfolding greatness. We held discussions on how to be an effective leader, things to remember when inheriting a leadership position from someone else, and other miscellaneous subjects like the Quality of Education from HBCUs vs PWIs.

Overall the conference was great, and the experience was even greater.

The East version (September) was held at the Akwaaba, a luxury, African inspired house in LGBTQ friendly DuPont Circle. Like the south version, on Friday night, participant’s gathered to watch the video and discuss it. They were more aggressive in their defense of the black LGBTQ community and pointed out how no one in the video took any personal responsibility.

The East Region participants, not only went over all of the same Life Development series topics covered in the South Region, they were able to

Jabbar Lewis facilitated the "Selfies" series in DC.

Jabbar Lewis facilitated the “Selfies” series in DC.

preview parts of our new series: “Choices”: Whether you believe it or not, everything up to this point in your life that has or has not happened to you is because of the choices you have made. Every aspect or our life when examined a little closer can be traced back to a series of choices we have made.

In addition, each participant was given a section of each series to study and then present to the group.

The East Region allowed participants to live together for 3 full days in a fully furnished house, similar to a reality show. This dynamic might have made the East Region one of the best experiences out of the three, so much so, we are looking to hosts future retreats in a luxury house setting. The South and East Regions are also where we tested out having each participant follow each presentation on their tablet/laptop or mobile devices instead of the traditional power points and projectors. They now will be able to relive each session on their mobile device at any time.

Here is a  complete list of all Life Development topics, related videos and handouts from the retreats.

Missouri Coalition Pushes State to National Leadership on LGBT Health

Missouri might not top many LGBT people’s lists of great places to live, but after today you might want to rethink the charms of the Show Me State. For the last year a local coalition has been pushing adoption of LGBT-welcoming policies at hospitals. In this week’s release of HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index, Missouri zoomed from 37th in the country to sixth in the number of local LGBT leader hospitals.

We don’t see policy changes this quickly very often, especially when they require many companies to adopt new policies. What’s the secret to this unlikely success? A few years ago Missouri Foundation for Health funded a partnership with the local Equality Federation partner, PROMO, and SAGE Metro St. Louis. My project, LGBT HealthLink, was also brought on board to provide them with technical assistance. With funding and staff and policy expertise all in place, the Missouri team got down to business to see what they could change to affect LGBT health disparities in their state.

If you just look at the situation today, you’d think they immediately stumbled on the equivalent of oil and a match for policy change, but, like many good projects, they started slowly. First they mapped the policy environment; then they tried a few different strategies for change. One of the things they identified was a big gap: While most hospitals were required to have LGBT-nondiscrimination policies by the agency that accredits them, they could find little evidence of those policies by searching. And if we can’t find them, then patients couldn’t either.

For a while the PROMO staff played nice with the hospitals, trying to build relations and seeing how to move the changes gradually. Some hospitals did respond, but the work was crawling forward. Eventually, we switched to a different tactic, blanketing many hospitals with letters pointing out that these policies were required. Then, of course, the PROMO staff person, Andrew Shaughnessey, was there following up with multiple phone calls offering to help them with policy resources. The new strategy, which we’ve taken to calling the “terrier approach,” worked. Eventually even the hospitals that said they weren’t interested started to call Andrew back. And if they needed LGBT-cultural-competency training as part of the new policy changes, Sherrill Wayland from SAGE was ready to step in to set up in-person trainings at a moment’s notice.

The upshot of all of this work was that, while in 2013 seven hospitals had LGBT-nondiscrimination policies in place, now 31 do. While seven hospitals protected LGBT status in employment, now 30 do. While two had achieved Healthcare Equality Index leader status in 2013, now 19 have. Today several of those hospitals are putting out their own press releases lauding their LGBT-welcoming policies. It’s a far cry from 2013, and that means much better access to health for thousands of LGBT people in Missouri.

What I want to see now is this amazing level of success replicated. I’ve worked in policy change for a very long time, and trust me, a model to change policies this fast comes extremely rarely. While they had a funder in Missouri giving them the time to experiment with different strategies, any other community center or equality organization in another state can take advantage of that work and just do what worked for them. Nicely, the PROMO team has documented their steps really clearly in the LGBT HealthLink blog. See the first post about it here.

Kudos to everyone in Missouri. From the amazing staff team at PROMO and at SAGE to Missouri Foundation for Health, who cared enough to invest, and the many hospital systems who jumped on board, this is an amazing job by all, and it’ll really affect the health of the LGBT communities in your state.

Now who else wants to do it for their states?

Missouri Case Study 10 – Making LGBT Health Matter in Missouri Hospitals

Andrew Shaughnessy, Manager of Public Policy for PROMO

Andrew Shaughnessy
Manager of Public Policy, PROMO Missouri
@andrewshag

This year has proven to be a monumental year for LGBT Missourians. Those monumental steps have been the recognition of out-of-state marriages by the State of Missouri, and the leadership of nearly 47 Missouri hospitals, who have included 105 new LGBT welcoming policies to their core values. As an LGBT Missourian it certainly gives me relief to know that I can access health care facilities and be me: my authentic self.

In 2013, only two Missouri Hospitals, Children’s Mercy in Kansas City and the VA in St. Louis, qualified as leaders in the Human Rights Campaign Care Equality Index (HEI). In the coming days the health sector will see the launch of the 2014 HEI, where several of Missouri’s top hospitals have been reviewed on their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) welcoming policies.  This year, Missouri will see several hospitals both in rural and urban areas that have been working to ensure their facilities are welcoming to all.

To learn more about the policies of Missouri Hospitals, click here for a map detailing their LGBT welcoming policies.

We have truly made LGBT health matter among Missouri’s top hospitals, but the work of the LGBT health policy project does not stop there. Through the technical assistance of Dr. Scout, Director of LGBT HealthLink, we will continue to work with health and social services organizations in Missouri to ensure that we are creating spaces free from discrimination. Through our collaboration with Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director of SAGE Metro St. Louis, we will be training Missouri’s health and social service professionals to understand the unique needs of LGBT patients.  And we will continue to advocate for the health of LGBT families and our families of choice.

As we begin to look at the legal future for the LGBT community, we must be concerned with the growing disparities we find in LGBT health. Our next frontier is on the borders of health and making sure that we are a strong and healthy community. I’m humbled to be a part of this work. Having experienced discrimination in a health care setting myself, I assure you your voice is not going unheard.

 

LGBT Wellness Roundup: October 5

As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at: http://ow.ly/DhVNO

Each week HuffPost Gay Voices, in a partnership with bloggers Liz Margolies and Scout, brings you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit our page dedicated to the topic here. The weekly LGBT Wellness Roundup can also now be experienced as a video — check it out above.

Bisexual Naming at National Black Justice Coalition Out on the Hill Conference

One of the great things we discussed at length during last week’s Bisexual Awareness Week (#biweek) was the bisexual identity, the many labels bi people consider using to describe their experiences and why. Awhile back the Patheos.com “Camels with Hammers” blog published a great piece that detailed the vital function that both labels and the development of labels serve. I’ve bolded some of the more stunning statements here for the “tl;dr” crowd.

“Naming the gender types, the sexual orientation types, the sexual interest types even, in all their beautiful diversity helps us think better. It helps us acknowledge more realities and account for them with better social practices so that the people who don’t fit into one or two current everyday categories are now taken into account. Having words for these differing people at the tip of our tongue, reminds us they exist at all. Refusing the words for them. Refusing the conceptualizations of their experience they offer us is an attempt to erase their existence. It’s an attempt to make it harder for us to remember them or think about them. It will make it harder for us to take any interest in their thriving. The conditions of their thriving may be different than ours. Denying them labels to describe themselves or their experiences will make it harder for us to meet their needs.”- “Why Do We Need Labels Like “Gay”, “Bi”, “Trans”, and “Cis”?

With this in mind we should welcome new conceptualizations of sexuality, gender, race, culture and every aspect of our humanity. For black bisexual people this conversation has been an on-going cultural experience. As a child I remember my West-Indian grandfather bristling as popular culture began to exclusively use African-American to describe black experiences in America. For him and other members of my family, the term African-American did not fully describe their experiences, political history and culture of their Black America.

cheltenham_clinton

Meeting former president Bill Clinton one night at dinner was a highlight for my grandparents (left)

Every so often it seems that words will change to reflect our better understanding of each others experiences. Nowhere is that truer than for bisexual folks who have re-claimed terms like bisexual, pansexual, fluid and queer to describe our lives as sexually fluid individuals. It’s also necessary for there to be some examples and role models for black and bisexual people, whether it be youth, elders or working professionals.

ooth-label-ocean

From The Out on the Hill Black Bisexual Experience Presentation, click here to download it.

Being able to positively identify yourself within a group of people is also extremely important for bisexual people striving to find a safe haven from the micro aggressions bisexual people regularly report experiencing. For as a recent report on bisexual women and micro aggressions said:

“We hypothesize that microaggressions that render bisexual women’s identity claims faulty or, worse, false and inauthentic, burden bisexual women with additional ‘identity work’. This burden, or stressor, is both cognitively and emotionally taxing, and in turn, likely has negative consequences for mental health and well-being.” – Wendy Bostwick on bisexual specific micro aggressions

ooth-bisexual

Faith Cheltenham, ABilly S. Jones-Hennin, and Shervon Laurice at Senate Hart building #OOTH2014

One of the more important things we did at our Out on the Hill black bisexual panel was exist as our total selves and in doing so continue to cement the importance of affirming black people, bisexual people, LGBTQIA people and every person working towards a world where we’re all equally valid.