I covered a unit at a hospital this weekend and I came across the above flyer. I was like wow. I looked at a few nurses sitting at the computer desk and said “Are any of you taking this? You know to learn how to work with me?” They were all startled because they’ve all worked with me for about four years. And they didn’t have to learn how to work with me based on my sexual orientation, more like how to work with my personality.
I texted this to a bunch of my friends who were appaulled. Then I’m thinking insert “African Americans” or “Mexicans” for LGBTQ and seriously you’d have a shit storm on your hands. The second line- create an inclusive environment for patients and staff reads appropriately to me. The first line in bold freaking horrifies me. Because seriously. We are just like any other minority and especially in regards to working with staff; co-worker to co-worker my sexual orientation or gender identification should make no difference in my ability to perform my job.
While my first inclination is to be insulted as a staff member my second was to think that this is a good thing for staff to learn about working with LGBT patients. Then I’m like, why do I think that’s an okay training but not staff to staff? Then my brain hurt a little and I realized I needed to write a blog post about it.
Two issues- working with LGBT staff and working with LGBT patients.
Learning to work and “create an inclusive environment” for LGBT patients is a good thing. Here’s why. A lesbian couple I know were pregnant. It was early in the pregnancy and the partner carrying started bleeding. They called the on call doctor and were told to go to the emergency department. At the emergency department they were seen by a physician. The physician asked how she got pregnant. They explained that they did IVF, but the egg she was carrying was actually her wife’s egg. He didn’t get it. She’s bleeding and terrified that she is miscarrying and he’s trying to figure out how they got the egg out of one woman and into the other. He literally scratched his head and was not even asking about the bleeding. She wanted to scream at him it really doesn’t matter who’s egg it is or how it got in there, but could you just tell me if I’m losing my baby or not? But she had to answer questions about fertility. The physician was generally unpleasant and made a terrifying night worse than it had to be because of his own ignorance. They did not lose the baby. But they lost the feeling of security and safety within that hospital system. I know countless stories like this. Where people’s ignorance is a barrier to medical care. So yes. Train staff how not to be an asshole basically. That’s always a positive step to take.
Creating an inclusive environment for staff is also a good thing. Wording it in a way that makes it seem like you have to work with us differently than any one else is not a good thing. Singling us out as a minority that requires extra training when there are so many other minorities that also face micro aggression and marginalization seems demeaning to all other minorities. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe don’t say Learn to work with LGBT staff. Maybe say, learn how to create an inclusive and diversity embracing work environment. Maybe just tell everyone not to be assholes to their co-workers in addition to patients. Obviously this is why I didn’t go into management. I’d probably get fired immediately because I’d tell my employees that they are being bigoted assholes and they should stop. There’s probably a politically correct way to say that and I wouldn’t have the patience for it.
At the end of the day the lessons we learn in kindergarten really should see us through our entire careers. Play nice with others. Be kind. Share. Apologize. Don’t touch what doesn’t belong to you. Don’t bully. If you see someone bullying someone else tell them to stop. Don’t ask dumbass questions. (I added that last one in because I feel like kindergarten teachers want to say it but never do.) If we all followed these rules work environments would probably be okay.
I don’t know what the answer is. I preach acceptance and I know the hospital means well offering this training to promote cultural diversity and acceptance. But sometimes I just want to be like every one else. Story of every minority individual’s life ever I guess though. It’s tiring fighting for equality. Then when some one or something tries to give us special treatment I’m not happy about that either. Then I sound whiney. So here’s my ending. I really don’t mean to whine.
I appreciate every effort made by workplaces to support LGBT staff and clients. Just be thoughtful in the approach. Does this training single individuals out who didn’t feel anything was wrong in the first place? Will my co-workers think I complained about intolerance and now they are forced to do a training? Think these issues through before posting flyers. Perhaps even speak with LGBT employees about their experiences working for the company. So then maybe you would have a sense about what the issues are if there are any. Because in the four years I’ve worked there I’ve never felt discrimination by my co-workers based off my lesbian status. Based off my female status yes. But that’s a different issue.
Shout out to all my co-workers ever in the last ten years of my healthcare career. Thank-you. I’ve never felt the sting of intolerance at a workplace for being a part of the LGBT community. I express my deepest appreciation for that.
I also acknowledge that I am extremely blessed and lucky for this to have been my experience. Because I do know lesbians and gay men who have been turned down for promotions, not hired, or fired due to their sexual or gender identity. To everyone else who has felt that sting- keep fighting. It’s tiring. And then sometimes they do the extreme opposite of what you want and have trainings about how to work with you. It feels awkward and bad. Keep going.
To all you assholes out there. Just stop. I’d appreciate it. So would your co-workers because then they could stop doing extra trainings on being nice.