HB0639 Cultural Competency Training for Health Care Professionals

Bill Title: Public Health – Health Care Professionals – Cultural Competency Coursework or Training

Bill Number(s): SB0639

Bill Sponsor(s): Delegate Pat Young (D-44B Baltimore County)

Position: Support

Legislative History: Referral to Health and Government Operations Committee in House

What will this bill do? 

This bill establishes cultural competency training and coursework to better serve and understand minority Marylanders, encompassing training on issues including ethnicity, religion, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Health care professionals who fail to complete the appropriate training or coursework will be denied renewal of their license to practice.

Why is this important? 

In the 2018 we published an assessment addressing the needs of LGBTQ Marylanders, with 36.1% of respondents identifying healthcare as a critical issue. Discrimination against LGBTQ people can take many forms in a healthcare setting: doctors may refuse to provide care for LGBTQ patients because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, may refuse to recognize the family of LGBTQ couples, and may use harsh or abusive language when treating them.

This discrimination disproportionately affects transgender patients. 29% of transgender respondents reported that doctors have denied care due to their gender identity, and 8% were denied care because of their sexual orientation. Respondents also reported experiences of unwanted physical contact, including sexual assault, fondling, or rape. Unsurprisingly, healthcare discrimination leads to significant health disparities within LGBTQ Marylanders.

Mental health is another major health concern for LGBTQ individuals, with LGBTQ youth being two to three times more likely to attempt suicide. In 2018 the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that 36.1% of LGB students planned on how to attempt suicide compared to the 12.8% of their heterosexual counterparts. The need for safe and inclusive counseling and therapy professionals is essential for the well-being of LGBTQ Marylanders.

Discrimination like this negatively impacts the wellbeing of LGBTQ Marylanders by decreasing their access to healthcare providers and to medical care, especially for those living in rural areas or seeking specialized treatments. HB0639 will ensure that medical and mental health needs for LGBTQ individuals are addressed by training all healthcare professionals to not discriminate, understand the barriers LGBTQ individuals face, and training on how to best support their needs. Ultimately, this would aid in decreasing discrimination faced by LGBTQ people in healthcare settings, increasing their access to inclusive care and improving their wellbeing.