Healthcare providers

Lobby and reception area

What happens at reception is hugely, hugely, hugely important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had trans people tell me, “I went for this really important medical thing and they called out the wrong name for me and I just sat very quietly until a few more people had gone in and then I just left.” Fred

Here are some tips for helping to create a welcoming lobby and reception area:

Create and adopt a comprehensive policy that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ employees and clients and their families:

  • Ensure that all staff throughout the clinic are trained in and have signed off on the policy.
  • Create comprehensive and easily accessible procedures in place for staff and clients to file and resolve complaints regarding relative violations of the nondiscrimination policy.
  • Following successful completion of comprehensive training in cultural competency and nondiscrimination, communicate this policy to all clients.
    • post a sign in the waiting room that says “We do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, language or disability.” LGBTQ people notice when sexual orientation and gender identity are included in non-discrimination policies, because often they are not.

Respect transgender clients by making sure all office staff is trained to ask about and use preferred pronouns and names:

  • Clearly indicate these preferences on transgender clients’ medical records in a manner that allows office staff to easily reference them for future visits.
  • Trans woman may have low-pitched voices on the telephone and trans men may have higher-pitched voices (or lower-pitched, if taking testosterone). Ensure that all staff are trained not to assume a client’s gender by the pitch of his or her voice.

Offer and display waiting-room reading materials of interest to the LGBTQ community:

  • Display brochures about LGBTQ health concerns, such as breast cancer, safer sex, hormone therapy, mental health, substance use and STIs, in the lobby or waiting room.
  • Have subscriptions to LGBTQ news, social affairs or entertainment magazines in your waiting room.
  • Posters and wall art can include public-health displays and posters that feature LGBTQ people and their families, rainbow flags, Pride materials and other indicators that the offices welcoming to LGBTQ clients.

Have gender-neutral or gender-inclusive restroom. Many transgender and other people who don’t conform to physical gender stereotypes have been harassed for entering the “wrong” bathroom. Providing at least one restroom without “Men” or “Women” labels helps to create a safer and more comfortable atmosphere.

Where possible, have openly LGBTQ people as staff. They can provide valuable knowledge and perspectives about serving clients and their communities, as well as help clients feel represented and comfortable. It helps to:

  • ensure job postings have a statement encouraging LGBTQ individuals to apply
  • establish, promote and effectively communicate an inclusive, non-discriminatory workplace environment for LGBTQ employees 
  • support and encourage visibility of LGBTQ employees

include interview questions regarding the applicants experience working with LGBTQ clients and ask how they would contribute to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ clients