Expanding LGBTQ+ Responsiveness at CofC Student Health Services

Student: Althea Denver

Major: Biology

Mentors: Dr. Kris De Welde

Department: Women and Gender Studies

Expanding LGBTQ+ Responsiveness at CofC Student Health Services

According to Riley Center For Livable Communities' Charleston YOUth Count data (2017), nearly one in five College of Charleston students identifies as LGBTQ+. CofC's Student Health Services (SHS) currently engages in LGBTQ+ friendly and accepting practices to make students on that spectrum feel comfortable and accepted. Despite efforts made at SHS, LGBTQ+ students still sometimes report feeling unwelcome or unsafe to express their identities to the staff, and thus receive appropriate care. This project aims to expand SHS's responsiveness to LGBTQ+ students in the clinical environment. The approach involves multiple, yet complimentary, components. Our project objectives will be accomplished through communicating with staff about resources offered, examining SHS's messaging towards members of the LGBTQ+ community, determining the levels of support they offer, and familiarity and comfort with LGBTQ+ issues. In addition and with approval from SHS already obtained, an analysis will be conducted of data being collected this semester by SHS through post-appointment surveys to find areas in which SHS is achieving their goals of supporting and treating LGBTQ+ students/patients equitably and responsively. These data will be compared to findings from research into other higher education institutions' health services and through websites, peer-reviewed literature and advocacy organizations. We will determine best practices for being inclusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community and present those to CofC's SHS. Overall, the findings of this research will enable CofC's Student Health Services to expand LGBTQ+ responsiveness and present a more inclusive, welcoming environment to our LGBTQ+ population on campus.