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Viewpoint
February 23, 2022

The Equality Act—Protecting LGBTQ+ Patients and Our Workforce

Author Affiliations
  • 1Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 2Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 3Biomedical Informatics and Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
JAMA Surg. 2022;157(5):367-368. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.7571

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ+) individuals face disparities across key areas of life, such as employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces, federally funded programs, and health care.1 LGBTQ+ communities share experiences of marginalization and stigmatization as a result of both structural and interpersonal discrimination. Importantly, discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals is a critical public health issue that concerns the surgical profession because it affects the lives and well-being of our patients as well as our colleagues and trainees. Legislative protections for LGBTQ+ people exist in 29 states, but federal policy is lacking. The Equality Act (HR 5) would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (titles II, III, IV, VI, VII, and IX) to broadly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity across the United States. This Viewpoint reviews disparities in surgical care for LGBTQ+ individuals and argues that surgeons must advocate for legislative and systemic changes to combat health inequities and support the surgical workforce.

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