Justice

Facebook Posts Shows Doctor Stigmatizing LGBT people

January 25th 2017

By:
Nicole Levin

Kristina Rodriguez was getting routine blood work at her local doctor's office in North Carolina when she noticed a shocking item on her "problem list" — "lesbianism."

Problem List

"I was shocked. A doctor is supposed to be someone you trust," Rodriguez told ATTN: of the doctor she'd been seeing since she was ten-years-old.

When Rodriguez initially called the doctor's office, she spoke to receptionist who apologized. Still not feeling better, she turned to Facebook to write a post that received over 170 shares and prompted local news coverage

Rodriquez tells ATTN: that her doctor at Lake Park Family Practice of Carolinas Healthcare System eventually apologized and explained that the word was placed on her chart to "protect her" from being offended, by ensuring that nobody would accidentally refer to her partner as her husband.

Carolinas Healthcare System told ATTN: that its physicians "seek information to help them understand as much as possible about patients, their families, and their lives to treat them holistically." In this case, the representative said the hospital included information that wasn't appropriate. "Sexual orientation is not a clinical diagnosis and we will be working closely with our physicians and providers to ensure that information included in medical records is appropriate, respectful and consistent with our belief in the importance of diversity."

Rodriguez said she didn't want it on her chart at all.

"We can’t go around with medical charts putting: widow, divorced, Jewish, lesbian just so that employees don’t screw up and accidentally offend someone." Rodriguez said.

"I'm pretty confident about who I am," Rodriguez said. "But not everybody is. For [lesbianism] to be on [a chart] for someone who is maybe an adolescent, and their parents find out that way, or their school, or their job... it could have been a really big deal. People are ending their lives over this every day."

After the incident, a representative for Carolinas Healthcare System reached out to Rodriguez and apologized. She also asked Rodriguez for help improving how they cater to the LGBTQ community. Rodriguez said she's not looking to sue anyone, she just wants to bring change and let people know that being a lesbian is not a problem.

"As a country we've come really far, I was able to legally marry my wife, but we've got some work to do." Rodriguez said.

According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, gay and bisexual youth who experience social stigma are eight times more likely to have tried to commit suicide and six times more likely to report levels of depression.

Historically, homosexuality was considered a medical condition until 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) after social pressure from activists and growing scientific evidence that homosexuality is normal. However, it was replaced with "sexual orientation disturbance," a condition used to describe for people who are "in conflict with their orientation." It wasn't until 1987 that homosexuality was completely removed from the DSM. Even then, the World Health Organization did not remove homosexuality from its International Classifications for Diseases until 1992. Furthermore, as ATTN: reported last month, the WHO still technically classifies being transgender as a mental illness.

Read Rodriguez's full Facebook post below.