Developed by the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Gay-Straight Alliance, the annual LGBT health week will be held this year from March 14-19.
The event highlights health disparities in the LGBT community and strives to facilitate an increased sense of awareness of the unique health concerns facing the LGBT population.
"I find it very inspirational to attend an institution that values the LGBT community as much as Vanderbilt," says Klint Peebles, co-president of the School of Medicine’s Gay-Straight Alliance. "Each year, Vanderbilt builds upon its policies of acceptance and inclusion, increasing the awareness of LGBT health issues and support of key LGBT initiatives."
A prime activity during the week will be the screening of Trevor, a 1994 film about a suicidal teenage boy that inspired the creation of the Trevor Project. Other events will include interactive workshops and case study presentations all designed to draw attention to medical needs of the LGBT community.
The keynote address for this year’s health week, titled "Being Gay: Does It Really Get Better?,"will be offered by Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire. Bishop Robinson is the first openly gay bishop of any Christian denomination, and his presentation, “Healing the Whole Person,” is scheduled for Tuesday, March 15 at 12 p.m. in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Bishop Robinson will also give an address to the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities on Monday, March 14. The event (8 p.m., Medical Center’s Langford Auditorium) is open to the public.
"The opportunity to host a speaker as renowned as Bishop Robinson is truly a fantastic opportunity for Vanderbilt and for Nashville," Peebles says. "Bishop Robinson has made his mark as both one of the most controversial religious figures in recent years as well as a staunch advocate for the rights of the entire LGBT community. He is quite a dynamic, eloquent speaker, and his message is both timely and thought-provoking."
Another pinnacle piece of this year’s observance is the annual LGBT Health Fair, hosted by OutCentral on Saturday, March 19 from 1-5 p.m. The fair and all of its services are free and available to anyone. Services will include STD/STI testing, rapid HIV testing, and blood pressure screening.
"Offering health care to any individual is extremely rewarding, but the LGBT health fair is certainly one of our most prized activities," Peebles says. "When it comes to health care, it is of vital importance that an individual feel accepted by a provider and feel that it is easy to communicate major (or minor) concerns. The LGBT health fair is not only an opportunity for individuals without insurance or with tight budgets to receive quality screening services, but it is also a time for everyone to freely discuss any issues in a completely safe environment without fear of judgment or prejudice."
For more information on Vanderbilt’s LGBT Health Week, visit their website: https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/gsa.