May 15, 2024, 9:45:11 AM CDT May 15, 2024, 11:09:38 AM CDT

How to find a LGBTQ+-friendly pediatrician

4 tips for families seeking an affirming and inclusive provider

Two young ladies posing for a photo sitting at a desk. Two young ladies posing for a photo sitting at a desk.

During his time as an urgent care doctor, Adolfo Flores, M.D., Pediatrician at Children's Health℠, noticed a pattern in teens who identified as LGBTQ+ or gender diverse: They preferred to go to urgent care instead of a pediatrician's office, where they often felt judged or uncomfortable. This also means teens were only seeking medical care when they desperately needed it, rather than receiving ongoing and preventive care that sets them up for healthy futures.

"To me, that was heartbreaking," Dr. Flores says. "I'm part of the LGBTQ+ community and I know what it feels like to hide who you are because of fear. Growing up, I never felt like I could fully be myself."

Dr. Flores ultimately shifted his career from urgent care to pediatric primary care with the vision of creating a practice where patients and families felt comfortable and could receive ongoing pediatric health care from a doctor they know and trust.

"I feel that now, more than ever, kids and families really need a medical practice that is welcoming, accepting, informative and non-judgmental — for LGBTQ+ kids, for same-gender couples and for anyone who doesn't want to be treated differently," Dr. Flores says.

Now, Dr. Flores provides primary care for kids, teens and young adults at Children's Health Primary Care Plano - Parker Road. He shares advice for families seeking primary care for their LGBTQ+ or gender diverse child, and tips on how to find an affirming and inclusive pediatrician.

Tips to find an LGBTQ+-friendly pediatrician

Dr. Flores recommends several ways to find a provider who is supportive and accepting of your child:

1. Word of mouth recommendations
If you know other LGBTQ+ families in your area, they can be a great resource. Gather information from people in your community about how they've found providers who are welcoming and accepting. If you don't know anyone or don't feel comfortable asking, you can also find groups on social media where families share their experience and provide recommendations.

2. Use online or community resources
There are organizations who understand that there are difficulties in accessing quality and inclusive care for LGBTQ+ families. Here are a few resources that can help with your search:

  • Check out PFLAG, a nationwide organization that provides resources for the LGBTQ+ community and their families. Your local chapter can help you find resources in your community.
  • Your local LGBTQ+ Resource Center may have recommendations for health care providers in your area.
  • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) offers a resource to find health care facilities that have been measured for LGBTQ+ inclusion practices.

3. Look for inclusive language, policies and practices
Before making an appointment with a new doctor, visit their website. Look for inclusive language on forms such as preferred pronouns and chosen name, any information about their team having LGBTQ+ competency training and any mentions of gender-neutral restrooms.

4. Call and ask questions
If you can't find information online, don't be afraid to call doctor's offices to ask questions before you make an appointment. These questions could include:

  • Have your office staff and providers taken LGBTQ+ competency training?
  • Do you regularly work with LGBTQ+ patients and families?
  • Do you regularly work with transgender patients?
  • What are your nondiscrimination policies?
  • Does your office have gender-neutral restrooms?
  • Do you have office staff who identify as LGBTQ+?

"Finding a health care provider where your family feels welcome — and one who will assure your child that there is nothing wrong with them because they are gender diverse or LGBTQ+ — makes all the difference in the world," Dr. Flores says.

Finding a health care provider where your family feels welcome — and one who will assure your child that there is nothing wrong with them because they are gender diverse or LGBTQ+ — makes all the difference in the world.
Dr. Adolfo Flores, M.D.

Why is it important to have an LGBTQ+-friendly pediatrician?

Studies show that people who identify as LGBTQ+ are at greater risk for mental and physical health problems. It's important to have a pediatrician who understands that and who your child can trust. When a child trusts their doctor, it helps the doctor provide better care for their physical and mental health. Building trust with a health care provider is especially important for teenagers.

"When it comes to teenagers – LGBTQ+, gender diverse, or not – often times they come to the clinic for one thing, but they really want to talk about something else," Dr. Flores says. "When we build trust, it brings teens out of their shell and makes them feel comfortable bringing up the hard and heavy stuff. And when they open up, I learn more about what they're experiencing and can provide better care."

Did you know? LGBTQ+ youth who were out to their providers were also more knowledgeable about STDs and HIV prevention (according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

What else can I do to support my LGBTQ+ child?

Studies show that there's one thing that can have a huge impact on the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth: An adult in their corner who loves and accepts them for who they are. Having just one accepting adult reduced the risk of suicide in this population by 40%. Being your child's number one advocate can make all the difference.

"Acceptance is the most beneficial thing," Dr. Flores says. "When parents come to me with questions about their child's sexuality or gender identity, I tell them that the number one most important thing you can do is tell your child that you love them and accept them for who they are."

Lastly, follow your instincts. If you or your child aren't comfortable with a doctor, don't dismiss that feeling. Talk with the doctor about what you're looking for. Communication can often fill many gaps.

Find a provider for your child

At Children's Health, we are committed to creating an accepting environment where all families feel supported and have access to the care they need. Learn more about Primary Care at Children's Health or find a provider.

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