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Thursday, April 18
The Indiana Daily Student

LGBTQ experts to educate the IU community on health care, advocacy in virtual conference


The IU School of Medicine will offer its fourth annual LGBTQ Virtual Health Care Conference online Thursday and Friday. Attendees will learn about providing health care to LGBTQ patients and advocacy.

State Senator J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, author Kate Bornstein and Drs. Kali Denise Cyrus and Alex Keuroghlian will serve as keynote speakers, according to the conference schedule.

Ford, the first openly gay serving member of the Indiana General Assembly, said his keynote speech “INclusive: The In's and Out's of Being Out at the Statehouse'' will cover the struggles of the LGBTQ community in Indiana, his experiences as the only out LGBTQ member of the Indiana General Assembly and his efforts to advocate for the LGBTQ community.

“Indiana is one of 14 states that's pushing anti-LGBTQ policies,” he said. “Now, thankfully, some of those that were introduced are not currently moving, but it doesn't take us off that list, right?”

[Related: OPINION: Indiana might finally ban conversion therapy. That’s too little, too late.]

Alvaro Tori, associate dean for diversity affairs at the IU School of Medicine and member of the LGBTQ community, said he conference was first offered in 2017 because he and other members of the IU School of Medicine saw a desire for additional training for health care providers and physicians on LGBTQ health issues.

[Related: IU students conduct LGBTQIA+ health care needs survey to establish free student-run clinic]

The 2020 conference was canceled because of the pandemic but was changed to a virtual format for 2021, Tori said. The change, Tori said, has led to an increase in registration, with more than 700 people registered for this year’s conference compared to around 300 people in past in-person conferences.

He said allies who are not members of the LGBTQ community can learn from the conference by attending and educating themselves on the existing inequalities LGBTQ people face in health care systems and policies.

“So as Dr. Venis said, regardless of what your field is or will be, if you believe in equity, if you believe in inclusion, if you believe in justice for all, this is a conference that is going to be good for you,” Tori said.

Nonbinary author Kate Bornstein will also deliver a keynote titled “If Gender Isn’t a Binary, What Is It?” according to the conference schedule. It will cover how to provide care to nonbinary patients.

“You want a cooperation between patient and caregiver, and part of that is acknowledging who the person is that you're treating,” Bornstein said.

Alex Keuroghlian, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, will present “Trans and Gender Diverse Mental Health” on Thursday. The presentation will cover ways to care for the mental health of gender minorities in health centers. 

Kali Cyrus, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will present “Running out of Gas: How to Advocate for LGBTQ identities When your Tank is on E?” on Friday. 

Dr. Juan Carlos Venis, a member of the LGBTQ community, said LGBTQ patients face stigma and discrimination within health care, and patients look for providers who understand LGBTQ health care needs. Venis is an IU assistant professor of Clinical Family Medicine at the IU School of Medicine.

Venis said students interested in social justice should also attend to learn about the various health care issues the LGBTQ community faces.

Registered students will have access to recordings of the virtual conference for around six months after the event, he said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Alvaro Tori's title.

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