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Student Health Center a Leader in LGBTQ Equality

By Melissa Soto Chavez on September 17, 2019 in University

Student Health and Counseling Services is one of only three student health centers in the nation to be designated an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader for 2019.

The designation arises from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Healthcare Equality Index, which this year had 680 participants, including student health centers and full-fledged medical centers.

Out of these, the foundation awarded the “leader” designation to 406 facilities, including UC Davis Medical Center. Among student health centers, besides UC Davis, the foundation awarded the “leader” designation to the University of Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania.

For UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services, the designation capped off more than two years of developing resources and programs in line with the benchmarking criteria of the Healthcare Equality Index. It assesses health care facilities in the areas of nondiscrimination and staff training, patient services and support, employee benefits and policies, and patient and community engagement.

“Inclusivity of care has always been our goal, and this process has helped us move further toward that by solidifying LGBTQIA+ policies and practices,” said Margaret Walter, executive director of Student Health and Wellness.

Blake Flaugher, health promotion specialist, said: “I feel very lucky as a queer person to work in an organization that values the health and well-being of its LGBTQIA+ students and employees. Remembering my own experiences as a college student in the South trying to make sense of my body and the world, it would have been great to have had more visible support.”

Flaugher said students and staff developed and implemented more than a dozen new initiatives in support of health care equality, including the queer and trans health campaign, “We Thrive: Elevating Queer and Trans Community Health.”

The “We Thrive” website lists resources to help LGBTQ+ students feel comfortable and respected when seeking services. Topics range from privacy and confidentiality rights to the location of gender-inclusive restrooms.

“Inclusivity of care has always been our goal, and this process has helped us move further toward that by solidifying LGBTQIA+ policies and practices.” — Margaret Walter, executive director, Student Health and Wellness

Although Student Health and Counseling Services has many resources for LGBTQ+ students, making sure they know about them continues to be a focus. “We’re trying to do a lot more outreach, not just have things on our website … but actually trying to be on the ground with students,” Flaugher said.

In March, Student Health and Counseling Services launched Queer and Trans Health Week, which included tabling events in partnership with the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center, Counseling Services and others. Flaugher said that the SHCS hopes to make this an annual event.  

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation created the Healthcare Equality Index in 2007 to meet the needs of healthcare organizations seeking to provide optimal care to LGBTQ patients.

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About the author(s)

Melissa Soto Chavez Melissa Soto Chavez '19 recently completed an internship in Strategic Communications.

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