A descriptive study of the experiences of lesbian, gay and transgender parents accessing health services for their children.

Published: January 31, 2012

Abstract

Aim.  To explore the experiences of lesbian, gay and transgender families accessing health care for their children. Background.  Although lesbian, gay and transgender families are becoming more common, little is known about their health-seeking experiences. These families may be fearful about disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity to health professionals. As a result, lesbian, gay and transgender parents may not be receiving optimal care for their children. Design.  Descriptive qualitative study. Method.  Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 11 lesbian, gay and transgender parents in Australia. Results.  Three themes were generated from the data: ‘managing health care experiences’, ‘attitudes’ and ‘transforming bureaucracies’. Negative experiences included encountering homophobia or transphobia and being required to educate health professionals. Positive experiences occurred when both parents were acknowledged as having an equal say in their child’s health care. Conclusion.  Many health professionals lack the skill or knowledge to meet the needs of lesbian, gay and transgender families. Health services are required to ensure that all policies and procedures are inclusive of all family constellations and that staff receive relevant and up-to-date sensitivity training and create an environment that is respectful of all family groups. Relevance to clinical practice.  Adopting a philosophy of family centred care can enable health providers and health professionals to provide lesbian, gay and transgender families with inclusive non-discriminatory care.

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