Sound policy is essential for the best health care for LGBTQ communities.  This section provides guidelines for developing policy and links to resources that provide examples of “best policy” initiatives.

Healthcare Equality Index

The Healthcare Equality Index rates healthcare facilities on their policies related to LGBT healthcare equality. The web site provides a search for hospitals near your lgbt_flag2location that have been rated, and learn their score.

The criteria categories included in the Index are:

1. Patient Non-Discrimination

  • 1a Patient non-discrimination policy (or patients’ bill of rights) includes the term “sexual orientation”
  • 1b Patient non-discrimination policy (or patients’ bill of rights) includes the term “gender identity”
  • 1c Patient non-discrimination policy is communicated to patients and employees

2. Equal Visitation

  • 2a Visitation policy explicitly grants equal visitation to LGBT patients and their visitors
  • 2b Visitation policy is communicated to patients and employees

3. Employment Non-Discrimination

  • 3a Employment non-discrimination policy (or equal employment opportunity policy) includes the term “sexual orientation”
  • 3b Employment non-discrimination policy (or equal employment opportunity policy) includes the term “gender identity”

4. Training in LGBT Patient-Centered Care

  • Staff receive training in LGBT patient-centered care

Institute of Medicine 2011 Report on LGBT Health Research Priorities

In March 2011 the Institute of Medicine released a landmark report titled “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.”  This report provided an analysis of current knowledge of the health status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations, identified research gaps and opportunities and outlined a research agenda for LGBT health concerns.  The report is available for reading online, and for free download.


White House Memorandum 2010

This Memorandum, the 2010 WhiteHouse memo on hospital visitation issued on April 15, 2010 by President Barack Obama, directs hospitals and other agences to take important steps to ensure that all patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays.

LGBT Adoption and Foster Parenting

The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections issued a  report on LGBT and foster parenting. The report, LGBT Adoption InfoPacket, summarizes evidence for creating inclusive policies that provide access to adoption and foster parenting.

Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults

A report on LGBT Older Adults presents the results of a multi-organizational investigation into the needs of LGBT elders.  The policy recommendations include:

    • Designate LGBT elders as a vulnerable population in laws and agency missions
    • Pass local or statewide health or aging regulations/ laws supporting LGBT elders
    • Advocate to secure funding for LGBT elder services
    • Provide technical assistance to help LGBT providers secure public funds
    • Work to make general elder services and support programs inclusive of LGBT elders

Breaking Down Barriers: An Administrator’s Guide to State Law & Best Policy Practice for LGBT Healthcare Access

This report, Administrators Guide for LGBT Healthcare Access  issued by the Human Rights Campaign, provides background and guidelines for implementation of policy based on the following recommendations:

    • Incorporate an explicitly inclusive definition of “family” for visitation policy purposes.
    • Provide training modules to staff bearing specifically on the importance of advance healthcare directives for LGBT families.
    • Offer educational information specifically tailored towards LGBT individuals and families on advanced healthcare directives at the point of patient intake.
    • Update any policies to reflect the most current advances in medical decision-making, relationship recognition, and parenting law for LGBT individuals and families.

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