AAP policy statement addresses care of LGBTQ youth

Image: PD

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges pediatricians to create offices welcoming to all youth, regardless of sexual orientation. 

2. Pediatricians should be available to address questions and correct misinformation about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ). 

3. The AAP recommends that pediatricians become familiar with the local and national organizations that serve sexual minority youth and families. 

Rundown: In a policy statement released today, the AAP addresses outpatient care of LGBTQ adolescents, recognizing that sexual minority youth are often stigmatized by heterosexualism and homophobic individuals. In addition, they may have different health-related issues than those in the sexual majority. The policy statement notes that there is a higher incidence of depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, sexually risky behavior, and sexually transmitted infections among LGBT adolescents. To that end, the AAP urges pediatricians to be mindful of the Bright Futures prevention and screening guidelines and the CDC STI/HIV testing recommendations for all patients. The AAP encourages outpatient pediatricians to create office spaces welcoming to LGBTQ youth by including paperwork that does not presuppose sexual orientation of patients or their guardians. The policy statement acknowledges that many adolescents may not identify themselves as a sexual minority, and reminds pediatricians to obtain comprehensive, confidential, developmentally appropriate adolescent psychosocial histories. Pediatricians should be able and available to address questions and correct misinformation about being LGBTQ. The AAP encourages pediatricians to enhance teenagers’ comfort in talking about their emerging sexual identities and to emphasize the confidentiality afforded by a physician/patient relationship. The AAP specifically addresses care for transgender youth, highlighting pediatricians’ responsibility to support and affirm transgender adolescents by providing education and referral about the process of transitioning, The AAP additionally suggests that pediatricians familiarize themselves with local and national organizations serving sexual minority youth and their families.

Click to read the policy statement in Pediatrics

Relevant reading: Standards of care for  the health of transsexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals

The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

By Emilia Hermann and Leah H. Carr
Reviewed by William V. Raszka, MD

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