LGBT+Allies Organization for the Cultural Understanding in the Health Sciences (LOCUS)

Brandon Jones (L2) and Louis Monnig (L2), Co-Presidents 

LGBTQ health is a topic that has garnered increasing attention in recent years as providers are realizing their gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer patients face unique health challenges. LGBTQ individuals encounter social inequities that affect them psychologically and predispose them to poorer health outcomes. For instance, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more likely to be current smokers, approximately 1 in 4, compared to 1 in 6 heterosexual adults currently smoking, according to the CDC.

Many providers agree that taking a sexual history can be awkward for them, even more so if the provider is unfamiliar with the health and wellness concerns of LGBTQ patients. In an effort to promote LGBTQ cultural competency at LSUHSC, the LGBTQ + Allies Organization for Cultural Understanding in the Health Sciences (LOCUS) has been working hard to become a more visible and active organization on campus. LOCUS is a community for LSUHSC students, faculty, and staff with the goals of taking action in our school to create a more inclusive space and to become the most open-minded providers.

Because healthcare is delivered in teams of many types of providers, we pride ourselves on having membership from all six LSUHSC schools. Although we are an LGBTQ organization, all are invited to join and learn what we can do to meet the health needs of the LGBTQ communities. We strive to create a space where students feel safe, can meet their colleagues in other schools, and foster an environment where progress can be made to better our school and community.

We have made great strides in increasing the visibility of our organization in the past few weeks with the launch of our new website (https://www.medschool.lsuhsc.edu/cmhe/locus/), which can be found on the LSUHSC Office of Diversity and Community Engagement main page. We created this platform to communicate upcoming school and local events, offer health resources, and provide scholarship information so that prospective students may know they will be welcomed at LSU.

We are happy to say that we have a very diverse, forward-thinking and passionate group of students in LOCUS that are here to enact change for the better and strive to make LSUHSC inclusive of all. As future healthcare providers and researchers, it is our duty to be accepting of all walks of life and to show compassion and empathy for all.

We hosted an LGBTQ health symposium this past April in conjunction with ETHIKOS, the School of Medicine interest group for medical ethics, bringing together transgender patients and doctors, as well as experts in LGBTQ health law issues. (See the upcoming July issue of The Pulse for a more detailed story of this symposium.)

We are also excited to be exploring partnerships with New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders (NOAGE) and the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans so that our members will be out in the community sharing their knowledge and expertise with the greater New Orleans area.

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