Stonewall has launched a new poster campaign, funded by the Department of Health, to encourage lesbian and bisexual women to take better care of themselves. Love your inner lesbian is the slogan which accompanies the campaign, aimed at surgeries and healthcare centres.
The campaign is in response to Stonewall research with over 6,000 lesbian and bisexual women, released last year, which found deeply disturbing levels of self-harm, substance abuse and exclusion from routine testing for cervical cancer. The survey revealed that lesbian and bisexual women are reluctant to be honest about their sexual orientation when talking to doctors, and often don’t talk frankly about their health needs. Prescription for Change, the first major survey ever conducted into lesbian and bisexual women’s health in Britain, also revealed that half of Britain’s 1.8 million lesbians report a recent negative NHS experience. This deters women from visiting their GP, or coming out to them, making it less likely they’ll be treated early and appropriately with inevitably higher costs for the NHS when accurate diagnosis finally takes place.
Recommendations included in the research focused on increasing lesbian visibility so that women felt more comfortable discussing their specific health needs with a healthcare worker. One respondent, Tola, 40, said that ‘simple things like gay-friendly posters and leaflets in hospitals and GP surgeries and information on lesbian, gay and bisexual specific services’ would make her feel more comfortable. A series of posters is available for healthcare centres depicting the slogan, as well as key statistics from the report – including smear testing, lesbian parenting, mental health issues and drink and drug habits. The posters encourage lesbian and bisexual women to be open with their doctor about their healthcare needs in order to receive better care.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Head of Policy and Research, said: ‘At Stonewall we recognise that, even though our extensive programme of work benefits women as well as men, lesbians face unique challenges and encounter issues that men don’t – especially in terms of healthcare. This poster campaign continues Stonewall’s commitment to act upon our research to improve the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people – at home, at school and at work.’
To order copies of the Love your inner lesbian posters please call our free infoline on 08000 50 20 20
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