Why does lesbian visibility matter in healthcare?

All women have specific healthcare needs, but lesbians are at higher risk for certain health conditions. As a population group lesbians have also been ignored in studies into healthcare needs. In general, the priorities for lesbian health research identified by Public Health England include depression, quality of life, resilience, ageing, alcohol abuse, weight management, intimate partner violence, smoking cessation, parenting and cancer. A general lack of healthcare access and utilisation among lesbians has reduced patient education. For example, lesbians are less likely to get routine screenings for cervical cancer and less likely to get mammograms because of a range of reasons including negative experiences with healthcare providers in the past. These experiences include providers continuing to recommend birth control to patients even though their sexual activity does not require it, or exhibiting bias toward lesbian patients. There is also a common myth among lesbians that sexually transmitted infections are not easily passed between women, which leads to lesbians not advocating for their own screenings.

Healthcare providers have a duty of care to all patients and Lesbian Visibility Day provides an opportunity to review services and planning for this section of the population.

7 reasons why lesbian visibility matters in the workplace

  1. Temporarily disrupts the heteronormative lens through which the female form and labour is  viewed.
  2. Creates a space for discussion about lesbian representation across workplace spaces. Gives PR and Communications departments the opportunity to feature lesbians in the workplace, if they don’t routinely depict diversity.
  3. Highlights diversity of lesbian identities; encourages debate about multiple discrimination.
  4. Provides an opportunity to challenge social stereotypes that can feed into discrimination in the workplace.
  5. Cultural visibility prepares the ground for wider recognition, support and protection in the workplace. It can contribute to the development of an allies programme for example.
  6. An opportunity for empowerment for those who spend most of their working lives without validation from dominant culture.
  7. Hostility towards different sexual identities can derail workplace programmes, processes and initiatives. When employers recognise lesbian visibility they help people think about diversity in the workplace and how to be inclusive.

Resource

A short presentation (with links to videos) that can be used to raise awareness and encourage debate. Lesbian Visibility Day 2018

Stonewall report on lesbians in the workplace written in 2008 but still relevant today