Public Health Event Focuses on LGBTQ Youth

Sep 5, 2017

Natalie Reyes, a fourth year medical student at the U of I College of Medicine at Peoria, shows her hospital badge. She says the rainbow ally sticker has been a conversation-starter with LGBTQ patients or their parents.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

An advocacy group that promotes equal rights for gay and transgender people in Peoria is hosting a public health event this weekend, centered on children and teens.

Peoria Proud is hosting the LGBTQ Youth Health Summit that will address the needs of the community and highlight local services available.

“We recognize that there’s obviously a lot of LGBT children in our community, and we feel that there needs to be increased support and increased educational resources, not only for the children, but for the parents,” Chance Cruz, Peoria Proud board member and fourth year UICOMP medical student, said.

Cruz says one of the primary concerns he hears from parents is the challenge they face finding providers who are accepting and compassionate toward LGBTQ patients.

“Doctors, therapists, dental providers, all of the above, that will treat their children with a gender and LGBT-affirming manner,” Cruz said. “As well as making sure their children within the schools have the resources that they need. They’re not being bullied in schools and their teachers understand their LGBT status.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth are disproportionately more likely to face harassment and bullying than their heterosexual peers. National figures show as much as 85-percent of LGBTQ kids and teens report being bullied at school, which puts them at a higher risk of depression and suicide. That’s one of the public health challenges that will be addressed during the health summit.

The informational gathering includes a panel discussion and breakout discussions highlighting ways to improve health services for gay and transgender youth. The free event is Sun., Sept. 10 at 3pm at 312 S. Merriman St., in downtown Peoria.