This past summer, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in partnership with Walgreens released a resource guide to help the company’s 70,000 pharmacists and pharmacy staff understand and attend to the unique needs of the LGBTQ community. HRC is the largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group in the U.S.
“LGBTQ people often experience barriers to care, and for many, their most frequent interaction with a healthcare professional occurs right in their own neighborhood pharmacy,” Tari Hanneman, director of the HRC Foundation’s Health Equality Project, said in a statement. “This guide will help ensure that they are treated with dignity, respected in their identities, and able to gain the necessary and inclusive healthcare we all need to live and thrive.”
The guide recommends steps pharmacies should take to ensure LGBTQ-inclusive care, including training staff on different identities, terminology, and health disparities. It also provides recommendations on how to avoid stereotypes and assumptions about patients’ sexual orientations and gender identities “to facilitate respectful communication.”
Furthermore, the guidelines suggest implementing inclusive restroom policies and emphasize the importance of LGBTQ community outreach, in addition to providing information regarding transition-related services for transgender people seeking hormone replacement therapy.
“With almost 8,200 drugstores nationwide, touching the lives of 8 million customers daily in stores and online, we have a tremendous opportunity to serve as a model of quality and individualized care for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities,” President of Pharmacy and Retail Operations for Walgreens Richard Ashworth
said in a statemwent. “By making training materials available to all of our pharmacists and healthcare service providers, we can do even more to create a welcoming environment and build LGBTQ patients’ confidence and trust that the healthcare advice we provide is sensitive to their unique needs and concerns.”
The creation of the resource guide follows the implementation of federal regulations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that ban healthcare programs and companies from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Walgreens is the first major pharmacy chain to engage in efforts to become more LGBTQ-inclusive.