The D.C. City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to give final approval of a bill that requires continuing education programs for licensed healthcare professionals that include LGBT-related “cultural competency” training.
Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she plans to sign the legislation, the LGBT Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act of 2016. The measure then goes to Capitol Hill where it must undergo a 30 legislative day review by Congress before becoming law.
Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large), author of the bill who co-introduced it with Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), said it was needed to correct a longstanding problem of mistreatment of and insensitivity toward LGBT patients by heath care providers, including doctors.
“We’re going to see it implemented fairly quickly because the mayor and her staff are on board,” Grosso told he Blade after the Council vote. “So I’m excited about it.”
The bill – believed to be the first of its kind in the nation – amends an existing city health care licensing law to require health care professionals, including doctors and mental health practitioners, to receive two credits of instruction on LGBT subjects as part of their continuing education programs.
Attorney and LGBT rights advocate Alison Gill told a public hearing on the bill in November that a 2009 nationwide survey found that more than half of LGBT respondents reported being refused needed care or being treated in a “discriminatory, disrespectful manner” by health care providers.
“There are also too many health care providers who, although they do not discriminate, lack sufficient understanding of the particular health care needs of LGBT individuals,” said Daniel Bruner, senior director of policy at Whitman-Walker Health. “We look forward to working with the Department of Health and the licensing boards to develop training curricula that will meet the needs of D.C. health care providers,” Bruner said.