Wednesday, June 27, 2012
News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians
AIDS groups launch Fifty Shades of Gay HIV testing campaign
A new interactive Web strategy aims to encourage gay men to seek more regular testing for HIV. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, in collaboration with brand designer ATTIK and other health organizations, has introduced a website that enables users to create their own unique avatar by selecting everything from eyes, anatomy and nose to accessories and head wear.
The groups unveiled the website in advance of National HIV Testing Day, which is today. In addition to the avatar generator, the website provides information about HIV and lets users set personal HIV testing reminders.
Senate committee examines GLBT discrimination in the workplace
Federal legislation that would protect employees from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity filled the spotlight during a recent hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions.
If passed, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would provide a federal ban on discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) workers. The panel was diverse, including two law professors, a vice president from General Mills, the founder of Trans People of Color, and the general counsel of the National Religious Broadcasters Association.
Ken Charles, vice president of diversity and inclusion at General Mills, testified to the benefits of increased talent, focus and productivity his company has experienced from allowing employees to "bring their whole selves to work."
The main concerns voiced were infringements on employers' religious freedom and an increase in the costs of litigation. However, the law professors on the panel and Senate committee members from states that already ban discrimination based on sexual orientation rebutted that they've seen no significant increase in litigation, and that the bill adequately protects bona fide religious institutions.
Likewise, M.V. Lee Badgett, of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA, testified that the expenses associated with loss of talent and employee turn-over is far more costly to a company than implementing a nondiscriminatory workplace. As an example, he said, the Government Accountability Office estimated the military's recently repealed "don't ask, don't tell" policy cost the Pentagon $53,000 per dismissal, which numbered more than 14,000 during the 18 years the policy was in place.
Senators expressed optimism and ardent support for the measure, but the bill's fate is far from clear. Despite bipartisan support, ENDA has languished since it was originally introduced in 1994.
Its protection for religious institutions has helped assuage some detractors, though the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops dropped support for the bill in 2010 citing a concern that the law would be used as a justification to legalize gay marriage.
Currently, 21 states ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have their own nondiscrimination policies.
AMA policy encourages physician practices, medical schools, hospitals and clinics to broaden any nondiscriminatory statement made to patients, health care workers or employees to include "sexual orientation, sex or gender identity" in any nondiscrimination statement.