Service providers are individuals or organizations that provide preventative, curative, promotional, or rehabilitative health care services in a systematic way to people, families and communities. For many, service providers are the first point of contact in addressing health concerns, and so it's important that they provide a safe and supportive environment so their clients feel comfortable to share personal information that could be helpful. Service providers have been exposed to all the same social messages about LGBTQ people and families as anyone else, so being educated and checking assumptions can have an enormous impact on quality and care. For more about bisexuality and how it is relevant to providing sexual and reproductive health care to women, please see our paper Bisexuality: The Invisible Sexual Orientation in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care.
As mentioned in our findings for LGBTQ Families, we see that ISM women have higher instances of negative reproductive health outcomes, such as miscarriage, pregnancy complications, and fertility issues in comparison to their VSM and HW counterparts. We also found that ISM women report the highest rates of depressive symptoms compared to their VSM and HW counter parts. We see similar patterns in other areas of reproductive and mental health, and so it is important for service providers to consider how sexual identity is experienced when giving care. By virtue of the diverse invisible identities and relationship configurations of our ISM, it is also important for providers to check their assumptions and know that they can't be sure without first asking. For a great resource for talking to clients about sexual orientation, see Asking The Right Questions. For more general guidelines related to care, see Guidelines for Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Patients.
Additionally, we also found a large proportion of our participants were actively thinking about or a part of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) practices. Providers can think about how CNM intersects with their service delivery, particularly for those who provide psychological services. For an interesting primer that explores this topic, see Therapeutic Bias Against Consensual Non-Monogamy.
There were other interesting findings around gendering practices among our ISM participants, who found that daycare centers and schools played a large role in gender socialization. While our participants' perspectives were varied on this topic, it does speak to the role of service providers in gender socialization. For those who support LGBTQ families and gender independent children, there are many resources and guidelines that may be helpful to you and your organization. For example, a great primer on thinking about approaches to gender non-conforming children can be found at Gender independent kids: A paradigm shift in approaches to gender non-conforming children. For guidelines specifically for administrators within the school system, see TDSB Guidelines for the Accommodation of Transgender and ....
If you're interested in more resources and guidelines for practitioners, check out our Community Resources!