Health discrepancies in LGBTQ+ community

NEBRASKA -- As the nation wraps up another Pride Month,  there's an issue the LGBTQ community will continue to face: the fight for healthcare.

"In Nebraska, there is no law that requires private insurance to cover LGBTQ healthcare," said Abbi Swatsworth, executive director of Out Nebraska. She works on LGBTQ advocacy and connects people with medical professionals who will care for them.

But Swatsworth said finding a provider can be tough.

Jay Irwin is researching the topic at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

"My research shows people are fearful of the doctor because they don't know how coming out will look to them [...] they might be worried about a doctor telling someone which of course does not happen and is illegal [...] but a lot of people don't know [about HIPPA]," he said.

To encourage the LGBTQ community to feel safe with doctors, Irwin suggests clinics offer non-binary bathrooms; put pronouns on their nametags, and are careful with gender wording on intake forms.

"Those forms are often the first thing folks will look at as -- do you know? Are you clued into this community and how it works?"

On a larger scale, he says more training on sexual orientation and even policy changes -- would be the most efficient way to change things.

As a last resort - organizations like the ACLU are ready to step in with legal action.

"Lots of folks are afraid of being part of a court case but sometimes it takes a case like that to make a change," Swatsworth said.  "No matter what our sexual orientation is, we should want all our community members to live long and healthy lives."

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