The AFT has signed on as a proud partner of the LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights, joining more than 80 LGBT and progressive organizations that support the initiative to raise awareness of LGBT rights and empower patients to demand high-quality care. Many LGBT people are unaware of the laws that protect them and guarantee equality in healthcare.
As the second-largest nurses union in the country, the AFT believes that all people deserve access to good healthcare. Queer people often experience discrimination and denial of equal access to healthcare, and the AFT is committed to helping turn this around. Our work on LGBT issues spans all AFT constituencies and includes innovative work from our affiliates.
The LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights site includes downloadable wallet-sized cards and a fact sheet explaining LGBT healthcare rights, which include privacy, protections from discrimination, and affirmation of identity and respect, among others. The full site and bill of rights go into detail about where these rights come from and how to take action.
For many years, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been denied hospital visitation for their partners and families. But because of action from the Obama administration, hospitals now are required to allow visits from anyone a patient chooses. The rules were written to be specifically inclusive of LGBT patients.
Over the past few years, LGBT healthcare rights have expanded, but public understanding and often hospitals' understanding of these protections and rights lag behind. For instance, under the Affordable Care Act, discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited. If a medical provider refuses to recognize a person's gender identity, the patient can file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services.
The AFT's many efforts to support equality include the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals' efforts to achieve inclusive healthcare for transgender people in the state. The AFT has recently become a member of a coalition fighting for an employment nondiscrimination act; and AFT President Randi Weingarten has spoken out about counseling for LGBT youth.