It goes without saying that cultural competence is immeasurably significant in nursing. Culturally competent nurses avoid stereotypes and are able to provide high-quality health care delivery to diverse patients, understanding and taking into consideration their cultural, religious, and individual values and beliefs. At the same time, diversity also includes gender identity and sexual orientation as they are frequently connected with specific aspects of care delivery. However, the representatives of the LGBTQ community who are particularly vulnerable to specific health disparities frequently face a lack of nurses’ knowledge and competence related to their needs. They may require additional support from nurses, rely on their “family of choice,” use different body language, or have specific fertility needs (Margolies & Brown, 2019). That is why nursing cultural competence in relation to the LGBTQ community should be introduced and maintained to make its members feel safe and welcomed.
As a matter of fact, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) is a complex term that covers two major facets of identity – sexual orientation and gender identity (Margolies & Brown, 2019). In general, all people have a sexual orientation – while heterosexuals are romantically and sexually attached to partners of the opposite sex, lesbian and gay individuals are attracted to other people of the same sex. In turn, bisexual or pansexual people do not connect sexual attraction with a partner’s gender.
At the same time, all people have gender identities as well. Cisgender people traditionally identify themselves with the sex assigned at birth. Transgenders identify themselves with the sex opposite to the one assigned at birth and include gender queer or nonbinary individuals whose gender identity is neither male nor female exclusively (Margolies & Brown, 2019). The groups of gender identity and sexual orientation are distinct, and they do not determine people’s sexual behavior.
Demonstrating Cultural Competency/ Sensitivity
The necessity of LGBTQ-related cultural competence in nursing is determined by the vulnerability of community members to particular health issues and disparities. According to multiple studies, due to discrimination, stigmatization, intended violence, and social stereotypes, sexual and gender minorities experience considerably higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and other mental health disorders in comparison with non-LGBTQ individuals (Margolies & Brown, 2019). Other health issues of LGBTQ people are sexually transmitted illnesses, smoking, substance abuse, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. At the same time, they tend to delay or even avoid treatment due to the absence of culturally competent providers and a lack of support.
At the same time, regardless of current trends that emphasize tolerance and equality, there is a lack of LGBTQ-related cultural competence in a considerable number of medical facilities. First of all, nursing education does not address the issues of the LGBTQ community properly and systematically (McEwing, 2020). As a result, in some clinics, LGBTQ patients are not even provided with an opportunity to identify themselves (Felsenstein, 2018). However, in the present day, more and more health care organizations realize the necessity of adequate training for nurses to provide quality treatment to LGBTQ people on the basis of equal human rights.
Providing Culturally Competent Care
Planning culturally competent health care in relation to LGBTQ patients, nurses should remember that they deserve a patient-oriented approach that presupposes not equal attitude and treatment but understanding and addressing every person’s unique social conditions. In addition, LGBTQ identities are multilayered and intersectional – thus, they should be considered along with patients’ age, race, religion, education, culture, and socioeconomic status. In addition, nurses should know that LGBTQ patients want to feel safe and supported, they want their identity to be discovered and respected
Recommendations for Developing Culturally Competent Practice
As previously mentioned, LGBTQ-related education is necessary both for nursing students and registered nurses. In addition, in clinical settings, health care providers need in-depth and intensive cultural competence training for gaining knowledge related to LGBTQ people’s health disparities and obtaining communication skills. In addition, every nurse should be involved in self-development in order to avoid stereotypical thinking and discriminatory attitude against the members of the LGBTQ community. In practice, patients should be provided with an opportunity to express their orientation and identity both verbally and in a written form. Finally, to value diversity and avoid discrimination, a culturally competent system of health care should be created (Margolies & Brown, 2019). It is characterized by organizational anti-discriminatory statements, inclusive workplaces, patient education, and the establishment of cooperation between patients and nurses on the basis of mutual trust and respect.
Felsenstein, D. R. (2018). Enhancing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender cultural competence in a Midwestern primary care clinic setting. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 34(3), 142-150. Web.
Margolies, L., & Brown, C. G. (2019). Increasing cultural competence with LGBTQ patients. Nursing, 49(6), 34-40. Web.
McEwing, E. (2020). Delivering culturally competent care to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population: Education for nursing students. Nurse Education Today, 94, 1-7. Web.