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Health Policy Considerations for Our Sexual Minority Patients

O'Hanlan, Katherine A. MD

doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000201980.74542.6e
Current Commentary

Homosexuality and transsexuality are still widely viewed by lay individuals as morally negative and deserving of legal proscription. Peer-reviewed data confirm that experiences of legal discrimination are associated with stress-related health problems, reduced utilization of health care, and financial and legal challenges for individuals and families, especially those with children. In the last 3 years, the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Psychoanalytic Association have each reviewed the research on sexual orientation and identity, and each has confirmed that sexual orientation and gender identity do not correlate with mental illness or immorality. They have each endorsed laws that confer equality to sexual minorities, including nondiscrimination in employment, medical insurance coverage, adoption, and access to civil marriage. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), by virtue of its history of advocacy for women's health, is in a position to promote policy and make similar recommendations, recognizing that sexual minority women's health and their family issues are an integral component of taking care of all women. The College should review the policies of America's premier mental health associations and consider including sexual orientation and gender identity in its own nondiscrimination policy, and ACOG should issue a policy statement in support of laws to provide safety from violence and discrimination, equal employment opportunities, equal health insurance coverage, and equal access to civil marriage.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists should add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination statement and issue policy statements supporting laws that protect our lesbian and transsexual patients and their families.

From Gynecologic Oncology Associates, Portola Valley, California.

See related editorial on page 549.

Corresponding author: Katherine A. O'Hanlan, MD, FACOG, SGO, FACS, Gynecologic Oncology Associates, 4370 Alpine Road, Suite 104, Portola Valley, CA 94028-9727; e-mail:

© 2006 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists