Connecticut Children’s is committed to making our patient care environment as welcoming and inclusive as possible for our patients and their families. As part of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion journey, our organization celebrates the steps we are taking to ensure our patients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) feel a sense of belonging every time they walk through our doors. Keep reading for more…

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1. We’re developing programs at Connecticut Children’s for LGBTQIA youth.

Connecticut Children’s Division of Pediatric Psychology is in the process of developing and implementing a number of research-based programs of work to improve care for LGBTQIA youth. Those include:

  • Melissa Santos, PhD, is working to develop national guidelines for the effective and compassionate management of transgender youth with obesity, as obesity is often cited as one of the most common reasons why gender affirming care does not continue.
  • Emily Wakefield, PsyD, is researching pain-related stigma in adolescents who have chronic pain. As part of this research, she is exploring the impact stigma has on the health outcomes of adolescents with chronic pain who identify as LGBTQIA.
  • Melissa Santos, PhD, and Kevin Borrup, DrPH, JD, MPA, are in the process of developing a research home to improve the medical and psychosocial outcomes of LGBTQIA youth by engaging them as equal partners in research projects. This work seeks to achieve health equity for LGBTQIA youth by ensuring that their voices are involved in all aspects of research.

>Related: Is My Child Experiencing Weight Stigma? 

2. Connecticut Children’s has a gender program.

Connecticut Children’s Gender Program, led by pediatric endocrinologist Priya Phulwani, MD, provides compassionate care to children and adolescents who express a strong desire to be a gender other than the gender they were assigned at birth. 

Connecticut Children’s is currently updating policies and procedures related to the care of patients who identify as LGBTQIA. We are proud to have LGBTQIA-inclusive patient and employee non-discrimination policies. We also have an equal visitation policy.

A group of friends hold a pride flag

3. Connecticut Children’s offers training courses and programs for LGBTQIA-supportive patient-centered care

Such training programs for team members include:

  • A video presentation by Priya Phulwani, MD, that highlights best practices for providing gender respectful care to patients.
  • Access to more than 60 training modules that focus on providing patient-centered care to patients who identify as LGBTQIA, which are produced by the Human Rights Campaign.

4. We encourage our employees to be allies for LGBTQIA patients and colleagues, too.

Connecticut Children’s also makes a variety of resources available to team members to help them build allyship for LGBTQIA colleagues and patients. Those resources include the LGBTQ Youth: How to Help Yourself or a Friend guide, which addresses the importance of mental health promotion for youth who identify as LGBTQIA. The guide also offers guidance on how to help someone who is struggling with mental health issues. It was developed by the Human Rights Campaign and the Child Mind Institute. 

5. We work with the community to ensure LGBTQIA patients and families at Connecticut Children’s are cared for, supported and heard every single day. 

We are grateful for support from the community. Most recently, Connecticut Children’s received funding from the Tow Foundation.

Through support from the Tow Foundation, Connecticut Children’s will work with community partners and the LGBTQIA community to develop a secure web portal featuring comprehensive, evidence-based educational materials, peer mentoring, and counseling services. The portal will initially serve youth ages 8 to 24 in Connecticut, with special emphasis on transgender and gender diverse youth. During future phases, Connecticut Children’s plans to open the portal to youth throughout New England and then expand it nationwide. Beyond the benefit to the LGBTQIA population, the portal will make resources available to those who want to learn more and become allies for LGBTQIA youth. 

Connecticut Children’s has also received funding from the American Diabetes Association and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) to support LGBTQIA patient populations. 

>Related: 7 Important DEI Conversation Topics for Families 

This article provides an overview of just some of the work Connecticut Children’s divisions and programs are doing to support LGBTQIA patients. We pledge to take even more steps to ensure a continued welcoming and inclusive environment.