Clinical Pearl: Student reflection on Pride Month & 2SLGBTQIA+ advocacy during pharmacy school
June 2, 2023
By: Holly Wingate
This article was written and researched by a CSHP student member for Interactions, our biweekly newsletter. Crafting these pieces not only helps students gain in-depth knowledge of specific conditions, treatments, and resources, it also helps them hone their skills in research, critical appraisal, evaluation, synthesis, and writing – all of which will serve them well in clinical practice. The Professional Practice Team works with the student to select topics that are of interest and utility to both the student and to you, the reader. We hope you enjoy this piece by one of our future colleagues! Let us know what you think: If you would like to provide any comments or constructive feedback for our students, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
With June being Pride Month, we have the opportunity to reflect on the history of Pride Month, and its importance in being celebrated each year. In reflecting, I hope to give my perspective as a student on Pride and share ideas on how pharmacy students can advocate for the 2SLGBTQIA+ population during school years, all year round.
Background: Pride month
Though not made official for another 30 years after, Pride Month in the USA originates with the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969.1 At this time, there was a law in New York City indicating a man or woman must be wearing a certain number of clothing items which matched the gender on their state-issued ID, allowing police to take advantage of the law, raid drinking establishments and arrest transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.1 On this night in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, like they had many times before, clearing the bar and moving the crowd outside. On this night; however, individuals fought back against police and a riot began for 2SLGBTQIA+ rights, throwing coins, bottles, or debris at police.2 This riot continued for roughly 5 days and sparked the 2SLGBTQIA+ rights movement in the USA.2 There are conflicting stories as to who threw the first ‘brick’ at the Stonewall that night, but as we reflect on Stonewall, I feel that the brick may be better served today as a metaphor: the 2SLGBTQIA+ population will always fight back and reclaim their power, no matter how powerless they may seem in the moment. The first Pride marches were held on June 28, 1970, across cities in the USA, with thousands of 2SLGBTQIA+ members marching in commemoration of Stonewall, and to demonstrate for equal rights.3
In Canada, the history of Pride begins one day before the events of Stonewall, when homosexual acts were decriminalized with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment act, and received royal assent June 27, 19694. The first Gay Rights Liberation Protest and March then occurred at Parliament Hill on August 28, 1971, where those in attendance presented a petition to the government with a list of ten demands for equal rights and protections.4 The many years following this are clouded by police raids, unjust arrests, and more, until June 1, 2016, where for the first time in Canadian history, a pride flag is raised on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, ON.4
Understanding the history of Pride Month is just as important today as it was in 1969. Not only is it signifying one of the first major times 2SLGBTQIA+ people fought back for their rights, but it also commemorates years of struggle for these rights, and the ongoing struggle to be seen as equal under law, and in society.2 In reflecting today, I feel we cannot go forward unless we understand the years of struggle that members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ population have undergone–struggles that still persist today all over the world, including Canada. Pride is a time for individuals to own their identity and be proud of who they are.
Why is Pride Month Important to Celebrate Each Year?
In a time where many individuals are incredibly vocal on their beliefs, regardless of which ‘side’ they stand on, I feel we can get caught up talking about issues such as homophobia or 2SLGBTQIA+ care discrepancies, but this is often where our learning ends. While Stonewall occurred more than 50 years ago, we still celebrate Pride Month each June, and for good reason. Firstly, Pride Month is a recurring opportunity for everyone to learn about the 2SLGBTQIA+ population and see the joy in finding a community that supports one and one’s happiness. This type of learning can change lives both as an observer and as the individual who is experiencing it. For other members of the community, Pride Month allows them to be visible to those who choose to deny the truth of their existence, and to commemorate those before them that were unable to celebrate, and live authentically.5 Finally, it can be a time for some 2SLGBTQIA+ members where extreme pride replaces the feelings of shame or fear, truly impacting self-confidence and self-worth. In this way, Pride Month can be life changing. As I reflect on my own experiences, I have always felt Pride Month to be extremely joyful. Each year, it reminds me that we’re still here, no matter how invisible some may want us to be. It gives me the confidence to be honest and open with those around me. It is also a time to showcase the issues 2SLGBTQIA+ members experience, such as conversion therapy, the right to marry, and health discrepancies. Though it may feel that these issues are far removed, I will remind readers that Bill C-4, which banned conversion therapy in Canada, was only passed in 2021 and took three attempts to be approved.6 It is incredibly important to keep one-self up to date with 2SLGBTQIA+ challenges, and Pride Month is a great time for such learning to occur. I feel Pride Month is incredibly important to celebrate, especially for those who do not identify as a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ population. In celebrating Pride Month as a heterosexual person, one is creating a space in the community of support for 2SLGBTQIA+ members for yourself and others. You are in a unique position where you can offer a safe space to members when they need it most.
As health care providers, I believe we have a duty to all our patients to ensure we are entering care without biases and ready to treat equitably, regardless of who is in front of us. While some individuals today may feel homophobia has ‘quieted’ in health care, I reflect that it may be quite contrary. In Jessica Sheard’s Clinical Pearl: Clinical considerations and creating safe spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ patients, we see care discrepancies that may occur from homophobia are still rampant in today’s health care system. I highly recommend readers refer to this Clinical Pearl to see the impact those discrepancies have on individuals accessing health care. I feel as a healthcare provider, it is important to stay active in educating oneself to provide culturally safe and up-to-date care. Celebrating Pride Month as a health care provider may allow one to confront unconscious biases, which is an important part of being able to provide equitable care. In my early days of pharmacy education, I learned that it is “okay” to have biases, but it is “not okay” to do nothing to change them. Health care providers are the people who individuals turn to address their health needs, and we must be able to care for them as best we can.
A Students Perspective: Pride and Advocacy during Pharmacy School
During my years in pharmacy school, I have been fortunate enough to learn about gender-inclusive care. Even though the medications used for transitioning were not new to me, I am grateful to have had a specific lecture on transitioning, as it gave me the ability to think about the big picture with transitioning. This includes costs from medications, insurance delays or personal costs if surgery is to be done privately, wait times for publicly funded surgeries, stigma and access to affirming health care. To supplement this health care focused lecture, we listened to a patient talk about their specific care experiences. A man who had previously transitioned spoke to us about the care he has received throughout his life, but more importantly, how transitioning had saved his life and changed his relationships for the better. Patient stories such as this one have been so impactful in the development of my own Pride, as it makes everything seen on paper real. This is why I feel celebrating Pride is so important for students. Having real world experience with patients can shape how we deliver care because we see the entire person, not just the prescription. This, in turn, can impact how we advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ patients to other health care providers and those in our personal lives.
As 2SLGBTQIA+ care becomes more engrained in the pharmacy curriculum, students are in a unique position to educate others and advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ care. Pharmacy students can advocate in many different areas for 2SLGBTQIA+ patients, however it is important that we put the onus on ourselves to close any knowledge gaps. I feel the history of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and staying current on 2SLGBTQIA+ news are my knowledge gaps. While school provides us with a good baseline of knowledge, it is not our patient’s responsibility to educate us in our knowledge gaps –we must be self-directed to learn about 2SLGBTQIA+ care discrepancies, gender-inclusive care, Pride Month history, and more. Once educated, we will be in a better position to advocate for the 2SLGBTQIA+ population in whatever professional environment we may practice (community, hospital, and other patient care positions such as industry or research).
Below are some examples on ways to stay up-to-date and advocate for our 2SLGBTQIA+ patients. For specific resources to use, please stay tuned for the Resource Spotlight coming soon.
- Check in with your internal biases, and self-direct to online materials to stay educated. This can include courses, readings, or webinars. I recommend looking into national associations such as the CPhA, as they often offer free resources to supplement learning and are trustworthy sources.
- Subscribe to online 2SLGBTQIA+ news outlets to stay up-to-date on 2SLGBTQIA+ issues. These online news outlets are great for providing bite-sized news on the go, or you can take the time to read through entire articles on their websites.
- Use social media to advocate for care discrepancies and gender-inclusive care, as it is highly impactful in accessing 2SLGBTQIA+ youth. Use your platform to promote local resources, such as pharmacies, 2SLGBTQIA+ community centers, and more.
- As you work in pharmacy, keep resources available for patients to take, such as brochures or information sheets of nearby community resources. Be aware of which local resources are near your pharmacy for your patients.
- Keep 2SLGBTQIA+ care discrepancies in the forefront of our minds at students, and respectfully offer to educate preceptors and managers on 2SLGBTQIA+ issues, and ways to continue delivering gender-inclusive, safe and equitable care in the workplace. Some ways to provide this care include asking about and using correct pronouns, avoiding dead-naming, and more.
- The First Pride Was a Riot: The Origins of Pride Month. American University, College of Arts & Sciences News; 2022 Jun 10 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from: https://www.american.edu/cas/news/the-first-pride-was-a-riot.cfm
- Why Is Pride Month Celebrate in June? Encyclopedia Britannica; 2022 May 27 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/story/why-is-pride-month-celebrated-in-june
- The History of Pride: How Activists Fought to Create LGBTQ+ Pride. The Library of Congress; n.d. [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from: https://www.loc.gov/ghe/cascade/index.html?appid=90dcc35abb714a24914c68c9654adb67
- History of Canadian Pride. Queer Events; 2021 [cited 2023 Jun 1]. Available from: https://www.queerevents.ca/canada/pride/history
- Celebrating Pride Month: We asked readers to define why celebrating Pride is important to them. Here is what they said. The Washington post; 2021 Jun 23 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/11/pride-month-2021-celebration/
- Proposed changes to Canada’s Criminal Code relating to conversion therapy. Government of Canada; 2021 Nov 29 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/pl/ct-tc/index.html