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The big question: Could the sector do more to be LGBTQ+ friendly?

Following on from Pride month, we ask: “Could the sector do more to be LGBTQ+ friendly?”

Colin Mudd

Higher Specialist Biomedical Scientist

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Of course our sector could do more to be LGBTQ+ friendly, so what should we do? 

First, a little context: in the last few months people in the LGBTQ+ community were described as “insane or perverted” by a member of our profession. This is 2022 not 1982. The problem has not gone away and is still gravely concerning.

Such poor behaviour must be challenged. Those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ must be able to challenge this and feel confident that they will be supported. So the responsibility here is that senior management must embrace the LGBTQ+ community, support people and be aware of the prejudices that still exist. 

A very positive step is that the IBMS is setting up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. This involves volunteers from our membership together with Council members and is fully endorsed by our President Debra Padgett.

Those of us in the LGBTQ+ community should help to show everyone else what our contribution is to society and our profession. After all, our motto is “Learn and Improve”, so by education we can hope to improve the situation.

Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not always about being on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Often it is about being actually rather ordinary and part of the absolutely invaluable care team for the nation that we are.

Also, we don’t always have to understand everything; we can’t possibly do that, but how much effort does being accepting take?

Francis Yongblah

Laboratory Manager and HSST Clinical Scientist

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children

I feel that over the last 13 years, during my career as a healthcare scientist, I have witnessed significant changes and support in promoting equality and diversity in the workplace for the LGBTQ+ members of the IBMS. The work that hospital trusts have done to date to promote Pride month has been incredible. I feel that it has come a long way. As an IBMS Fellow, it has been nice to see how the institute has worked to promote its engagement and support for LGBTQ+ members, such as promoting Pride month and sharing members’ stories.

This will be the first year that the IBMS will be marching in Pride in London, and it is great to have this support from the Institute. I feel that the Institute is LGBTQ+ friendly for its members, however, I feel there are further things that can be done. Recently I went to an international conference where I was given the opportunity to attend an after-conference LGBTQIA reception. It was such a nice experience to meet fellow scientists from different backgrounds who were able to share their career stories and personal stories with other members of the conference, which included friends and allies of the LGBTQ+ community. Something else that I got to see at this conference was teaching sessions for promoting equality in the workplace and I feel this would be a future benefit, particularly by making this part of leadership and management training.

Abi Giles

Specialist Biomedical Scientist

Biochemistry Royal Bolton Hospital

A lot of progress has been made in recent years for the LGBTQ+ community in healthcare, but there is still more that is needed.

My own personal experience has highlighted to me areas such as how trans and non-binary patients are treated by the current systems in place. Reference ranges and gender markers can struggle to reflect a patient’s current physiological state, but also satisfy equality and data quality legislation.

Indeed, a lot of the research is lacking in this area, especially as this can have critical effects on how an individual patient is treated. This is especially so in cases of emergency, where what course of action is taken can make the difference between life and death.

Another area that could make vast improvements is awareness training. Current healthcare is very much oriented towards a norm based on cis-heterosexual society. The needs of the LGBTQ+ community differ greatly and knowledge is key to be able to improve the services we offer as laboratory professionals.

Incremental improvements from individuals can all add up to make a huge difference in the end, especially considering the current relentlessly hostile environment in the media.

In conclusion, I am proud to be a biomedical scientist as well as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I feel my experiences have been immensely positive as a worker in this sector. I look forward to a bright future.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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