LGBTQ+ Missourians are more than twice as likely to not receive medical care

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 9:17 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - June is Pride Month. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department reports that LGBTQ+ Missourians are more than twice as likely to not receive needed medical care or surgery compared to the general population.

June is #PrideMonth and we are celebrating the LGBTQ+ community as well as raising awareness about the health disparities impacting this community here in Springfield and Missouri.

Posted by Springfield-Greene County Health Department on Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Aaron Schekorra with the Springfield- Greene County Health Department says people in the LGBTQ+ community may not seek medical care out of fear of discrimination or a history of discrimination.

”The assumption that you could leave out your sexual orientation or gender identity when you walk into a doctor’s office is one that’s often misunderstood,” Schekorra says. “From the moment you walk in the door, you fill out paperwork where you put down family information, spouse information, and you do check a box about your gender.”

As a gay man, Schekorra says he’s experienced discrimination firsthand.

“About the chance, I might have an STI or HIV when that was not the source of my health concerns and not something I’ve personally experienced or contracted and to be denied other tests and other forms of healthcare until I go through tests to prove to that doctor that that’s not something that’s causing the health concerns that I’ve walked in there to address is delayed care and required me to live with pain even longer,” Schekorra says.

Kyler Sherman-Wilkins is on the board of the Glo Center in Springfield. He is also an assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State University, focusing on research in LGBTQ+ populations.

Sherman-Wilkins says if members of the LGBTQ+ community face discrimination, there isn’t much in place to prevent it.

“The Missouri non-discrimination act seeks to do, but it has not passed even though it’s been introduced several times,” Sherman-Wilkins says. “We really don’t have strong legal protections to ensure that LGBTQ populations are protected when it comes to healthcare.”

Sherman-Wilkins says education is crucial.

“This thought that physicians and healthcare professionals just need to be adept in biology or chemistry or physics or whatever the natural sciences,” Sherman-Wilkins says. “There’s increasing evidence that shows that cultural competency and understanding of social determinants of health, the understanding of health disparities are really important for healthcare practitioners to know so that they’re not perpetuating harm.”

Schekorra says a national registry of doctors supports LGBTQ+ patients and provides care.

“Out of the thousands in Missouri, there’s only 15 that are a part of that registry, so it would be great to see more providers take a step to make it known publicly that they are a safe and affirming place,” Schekorra says.

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