The January 23 Out for Health conference, hosted by Houston’s UT Health Science Center, will once again be held virtually, organizers say. Last year’s annual LGBTQIA+ health conference was about to be hosted by UTMB in Galveston when organizers had to pivot to make it a virtual event.
Aly Crain, this year’s Out for Health logistics co-chair, explains how it will work. “We are using Cisco Webex, a video conference service used by UTHealth Houston. We have speakers and attendees from all across the country joining us through the Webex platform.
“We have Out for Health delegates from every Texas medical school. Each year, delegates are able to pitch their school as the host for Out for Health. In May 2020, medical student Seena Ounsinegad pitched McGovern Medical School to be the next host.”
Out for Health was started at McGovern Medical School eight years ago by Dr. Dakota Carter to address issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community in healthcare settings. Every year, Out for Health is hosted by a different Texas medical school. The virtual event is open to anyone who wishes to register.
“We do not think that LGBTQIA+ healthcare topics are covered adequately in most [medical] school curriculums,” says Crain. “Out for Health provides a space for health professionals and students to learn about LGBTQIA+ health topics from experts in their fields and community advocates. Additionally, Out for Health provides a space for students to connect with each other and the professionals in their field.”
The conference is free for students, $20 for community members, $30 for social workers, and $50 for professional CME credit. You must first register at outforhealth.net. Organizers expect about 300 to 400 virtual attendees.
“This year we are focusing on topics related to intersectionality,” Crain says. “We want to recognize that individuals who are minorities in multiple ways (Black trans women, for example) face additional discrimination that we need to unpack. Additionally, we want to address the hardships that the LGBTQIA+ community has faced this year. Since our conference focuses on intersectionality, we want to compare the queer-liberation movement of the 1960s and the current Black Lives Matter movement to recognize the fact that many Black people are queer, and many queer people are Black. We are hoping to capture the idea that social unrest is not a one-time event and that we need to continue questioning the power structures in place to move toward equality for all. Additionally, by drawing parallels between the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and the current COVID-19 pandemic, we can highlight the ways in which LGBTQIA+ people have been disproportionately impacted by both.”
The goal of the conference is to provide a space for learning and discussion about LGBTQIA+ health care. Hopefully, medical professionals and students will feel more comfortable with, and considerate of, [patients with multiple minority] identities. We also want to give attendees more knowledge about the LGBTQIA+ community so that they may then educate friends and colleagues. Finally, the conference strives to give LGBTQIA+ community members and allies a space to connect with each other and feel encouraged and rejuvenated in their work. Or, as the conference motto says, “Revolutionizing Health Care with Pride.”
What: Out for Health
When: January 23, 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST
Video conference registration: outforhealth.net