April 14, 2015 at 1:17 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT ‘cultural competency’ bill introduced in D.C. Council

David Grosso, D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large) along with Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) have introduced a bill that would require LGBT ‘competency trainings’ for licensed medical providers in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council members David Grosso (I-At-Large) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require continuing education programs for licensed healthcare professionals to include LGBT related “cultural competency” training.

The LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act of 2015 would amend an existing health care licensing law to require healthcare professionals, including doctors and mental health practitioners, to receive two credits of instruction on LGBT subjects.

The bill says the two credits of instruction would pertain to “cultural competency or specialized clinical training focusing on patients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, queer or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression (LGBTQ).”

All nine of Grosso and Alexander’s Council colleagues signed on as co-sponsors of the bill at the Council’s regularly scheduled legislative meeting on Tuesday.

“Over 66,000 LGBTQ citizens reside in D.C., and they deserve access to medical professionals who are sensitive to and knowledgeable about the unique health needs of the LGBTQ community,” Grosso said in a statement.

Alexander, who chairs the Council’s Health Committee, said she plans to hold a hearing on the legislation as soon as possible and move the measure to a vote by the full Council following a markup on the bill. She said the legislation is especially needed for the trans community, which she said historically has experienced discrimination in seeking medical and mental health related services.

“LGBT people face substantial systemic discrimination in healthcare due to a lack of understanding of the unique needs and challenges faced by the community,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, which is coordinating a lobbying effort to help pass the bill.

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, Whitman-Walker Health, National Children’s Hospital, and the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community are working with HRC as part of a coalition pushing for the bill, according to a statement by HRC.

“Cultural competency is critical to reducing healthcare disparities for LGBT people and improving access to high quality healthcare, especially for transgender people,” Warbelow said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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