As paediatricians and health care workers, we have a vital role to play in supporting and empowering LGBTQ+ young people, many of whom still face discrimination and experience poorer health outcomes.
In consultation with LGBTQ+ young people, we have set out our roles and responsibilities as paediatricians and child health workers in the UK:
- Act at all times in an accepting, non-discriminatory way towards LGBTQ+ children and young people, and demand the same from your colleagues.
- Understand that gender questioning and gender diversity are common, not pathological and frequently begin in early childhood.
- Help parents, schools and other agencies to adopt a supportive, flexible and responsive attitude to affirm a child’s expressed sexuality and gender, whilst being sensitive to change over time. This will involve making appropriate adjustments.
- Be able to enquire about the mental health of LGBTQ+ children and young people and know when they may need specialist referral.
- Be aware that LGBTQ+ children and young people are likely to have higher rates of low mood, anxiety and thoughts of wanting to die.
- Remain mindful that sometimes mental health needs do not relate to LGBTQ+ identities. Many young people require support for issues relating to academic pressures or family relationship difficulties. LGBTQ+ children and young people should be able to access all available mental health services.
A 2018 Stonewall survey estimates that one in five LGBTQ+ people are not out about their sexual orientation to any healthcare professional when seeking general medical care, and that one in seven LGBTQ+ people have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination. In the last year alone, 20 per cent of trans people have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBTQ+ people by healthcare staff.
Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement at RCPCH said:
We’ve come a long way but there is a lot more to do, especially for transgender young people. As doctors we have a responsibility to be there for young people and to make sure we’re informed about the challenges and concerns they face. As a College we stand shoulder to shoulder with LGBTQ+ young people and we will do everything we can to support and protect them.
Dr Michael Brady, National Advisor for LGBT Health said:
Across the NHS we must be explicit in our intolerance of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia wherever it exists, and take positive steps to reduce the health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary and gender diverse children and young people, and improve access to services which are sensitive and responsive to their needs.
Professor Simon Kenny, NHS National Clinical Director Children and Young People said:
The NHS is here for everyone, and health and care professionals will continue to stand up for and respect equality and diversity among our patients and colleagues.
Working with young people, the RCPCH makes the following commitments:
- We will continue to foster, within our organisations and in our work, an LGBTQ+ inclusive attitude.
- We will advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusive services in health and other sectors.
- We will include attention to LGBTQ+ issues within training curricula.
- We will co-operate with other bodies in the delivery of LGBTQ+ training content.
- We will contribute positively to evidence-based media reporting of LGBTQ+ issues in the health arena.
- We will maintain awareness of the developing evidence base, and do so in collaboration with LGBTQ+ people and their families.
The statement is endorsed by the following organisations
- Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
- Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine
- NHS England
- Royal College of Anaesthetists
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Royal College of Surgeons (England)
- Royal College of Surgeons (Dental Faculty)