LGBTQ+ Family Support Guide for Birth Injuries

Navigating the complexities of caring for a child with a birth injury or other disability can be overwhelming. For LGBTQ+ families, it may also mean facing healthcare barriers and finding inclusive providers who may not always be close by. Get practical information to help LGBTQ+ parents overcome unique challenges, find essential medical, financial, and emotional support, and deal with discrimination.

Gaining Insight Into Your Child’s Condition

Accepting your child’s disability can bring a mix of emotions, but understanding it is one of the best things you can do to advocate for their health care needs.

By seeking information specifically related to your child’s birth injury or disability, you can be better prepared to make informed decisions regarding their care, ensuring they receive the most appropriate interventions and support.

Creating a Plan for Your Child

Raising a child with special needs can be emotionally challenging for families. Knowing where to turn for support and guidance is essential. The best way to do this is to create a customized care plan for your child.

Here are some steps you can take to get started.

1. Get a Diagnosis

The first thing you should do for your child is ensure they have an accurate diagnosis. You can ask your child’s doctor what diagnostic testing is available as part of their medical treatment.

With a specific diagnosis, you can better understand what happened to your child and how it will affect them throughout their lifetime.

2. Develop a Treatment Plan

Once you are aware of and familiar with your child’s condition, you can work with their health care providers to create a customized treatment plan.

Some conditions are highly treatable, and mild conditions may even heal on their own. However, more severe injuries could affect a child for the rest of their life and require daily care or assistance.

3. Assemble a Care Team

Work with a team of medical professionals, therapists, and educators experienced in your child’s specific condition.

Depending on their condition, your child’s care team could include:

  1. Neurologist: Specializes in the brain and nervous system, addressing conditions such as cerebral palsy and seizure disorders.
  2. Orthopedic surgeon: Focuses on musculoskeletal issues, including fractures, deformities, and mobility problems, that might require surgical intervention.
  3. Physical therapist: Works on improving mobility, strength, and balance through exercises and other interventions.
  4. Occupational therapist: Helps in developing fine motor skills and improving the ability to perform daily activities like eating, dressing, and writing.
  5. Speech-language pathologist: Addresses communication and swallowing difficulties, helping children develop better speech and language skills.
  6. Special education teacher: Designs and implements educational programs tailored to the child’s unique learning needs and developmental levels.
  7. Dietitian: Offers nutritional guidance and creates diet plans to address specific health needs and ensure proper growth and development.
  8. Social worker: Helps families navigate and access services, resources, and support and assists in dealing with the psychosocial aspects of disability.
  9. Recreational therapist: Uses recreational activities to improve well-being and enhance socialization, cognitive function, and physical ability.
  10. Audiologist: Specializes in identifying and managing hearing impairments, ensuring optimal development of speech and communication skills.
  11. Vision specialist/optometrist: Monitors and addresses vision-related issues, which is essential for overall development and learning.
  12. Home care nurse: Provides specialized care at home, assisting with medical needs and monitoring the child’s health.

Regularly communicate with your child’s care team to ensure coordinated and appropriate care.

Importance of Finding LGBTQ-Friendly Health Care Providers

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents experience bias and discrimination in many health care settings. However, facing discrimination while trying to provide the best care for your child is not something any parent should tolerate.

Finding an inclusive and knowledgeable health care provider can make all the difference.

Here are ways LGBTQ-friendly health care providers can help families:

  • Comfort and safety: Ensuring everyone in the family feels safe and at ease.
  • Emotional and physical awareness: Recognizing the unique emotional and physical challenges of childbearing within the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Gender-affirming language: Using inclusive language and respecting the correct use of pronouns.
  • LGBTQ-specific knowledge: Comprehending issues relevant to the LGBTQ+ community.

How to Find an LGBTQ-Friendly Health Care Provider

Finding a health care provider who is LGBTQ-friendly is often preferable for many families.

These health care professionals are informed on the issues and challenges the community faces and may have special training and certification.

Here are some tips for finding a medical provider that is welcoming to LGBTQ+ parents.

Choose Providers with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Programs

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are frameworks for organizations that promote fair treatment for all and inclusivity in the workplace or another environment.

These initiatives are not just for gender identity and sexual orientation but also for age, race, religion, ethnicity, and more.

Look for Signs of Advocacy and Support

Signs of advocacy for and support of the LGBTQ+ community at your health care provider’s office can help put your mind at ease and let you know that you are in a safe place.

Signs of advocacy and support can include:

  • Anti-discrimination policy posted publicly
  • Name tags that display pronouns
  • Rainbow insignia on uniforms or displayed in the facility

Seek Providers Using the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) Tool

The Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) is a tool maintained by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) that evaluates health care facilities based on how inclusive they are to members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The HEI applies to patients and employees of any facility it evaluates, and a high HEI rating can be a good sign of quality care for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Resources for LGBTQ+ Families

Learn about some of the resources available to families for accessing inclusive health care, dealing with discrimination, and finding financial and emotional support.

LGBTQ-Friendly Health Care Resources

For LGBTQ-informed health care, it’s important to know where to look. These resources can help guide LGBTQ+ individuals to the right care.

LGBTQ-friendly health care resources include:

  • LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory: A directory of LGBTQ-friendly health care providers sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA).
  • OutCare: Besides many helpful resources for patients, communities, and providers, this organization offers an LGBTQ-affirming provider directory.
  • Planned Parenthood: A comprehensive resource for all topics related to sexuality and reproduction, including help for the LGBTQ+ population. They also offer a directory to help you find their services.
  • Quality Check from The Joint Commission: This site allows people to search for health care providers based on whether they have been accredited and received the title of “Gold Seal Health Care Organization.”

Discrimination Resources

Understanding the appropriate actions to take is crucial if your family faces discrimination in a health care setting due to LGBTQ+ identity.

Should you choose to pursue a complaint against the offending health care provider, several organizations can assist in the process.

Resources available for LGBTQ+ families facing discrimination include:

  • Healthcare Bill of Rights: A document published by the HRC that outlines all of a person’s rights in health care settings.
  • The Joint Commission: This organization allows you to file a complaint if you experience any type of patient safety concern or other issue within a health care organization.
  • Lambda Legal: A legal team that represents people from the LGBTQ+ community and advocates for equal rights.
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights: This organization provides resources and multiple avenues to ensure LGBTQ+ rights are protected.
  • State Health Department: This directory by the federal government allows you to find your state’s health department to submit a complaint.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: This federal organization allows people to file civil rights complaints by mail, email, fax, or through their online complaint portal.

Financial Resources

LGBTQ+ families sometimes struggle financially, partly due to workplace discrimination or employment barriers.

Additionally, the financial impact of caring for a child with special needs is significant, sometimes involving a lifetime of medical bills, therapy, special education, home adjustments, and assistive equipment.

Thankfully, various financial resources are available to support families with limited incomes as they seek care for their child.

Financial resources for families include:

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): This insurance is available to the children of parents who need assistance but who have income that is too high to qualify for Medicaid.
  • Medicaid: Free or low-cost state-funded health insurance available to minors under 18, pregnant women, people 65 and over, disabled or blind individuals, and people who make below a certain income.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Qualifying families can receive monthly cash assistance through this state program.
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): This program provides federal grants and food assistance to pregnant and new mothers and assists children up to 5 years of age who qualify.

In addition, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit to seek financial compensation if your child was harmed during childbirth.

Support Groups for LGBTQ+ Families

Support groups can be an excellent way for LGBTQ+ parents to connect with others who share similar experiences and seek advice or guidance from people who can relate.

LGBTQ+ childbirth and parent support groups include:

  • Family Equality: Unites LGBTQ family groups nationwide through support, education, and coordination, leveraging online platforms.
  • PEPS: A nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting LGBTQ+ parents with resources and offers in-person, virtual, and hybrid support groups.
  • Queer Birth Project: Offers both in-person support groups for LGBTQ+ parents and families and online support groups via Zoom.

Importance of Support for LGBTQ+ Families

The LGBTQ+ community faces unique challenges in health care settings, and recognizing this is the first step toward overcoming barriers to getting high quality care.

By accessing the resources available, LGBTQ+ families can find both the support and solutions they need to ensure the best care for their child.

Remember, every family deserves respect, care, and the right resources to thrive. Icon

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