HSC student organization’s summer fundraiser focused on suicide prevention programs for LGBTQ+ youth

By Diane Smith-PinckneyTCOM Assistant Professor Dr. Bryn S. Esplin

Becoming caring doctors and health professionals who ensure LGBTQ+ patients get proper medical attention is a continuing dialog for students at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC). 

That health disparities discussion, along with support of increased pronoun use as personal identifiers, were among topics explored during Pride Month 2021 by HSC students.  

“Everybody on this campus will be taking care of patients in the future. There is a vast difference in all patient populations — it’s making sure every single person feels seen, feels heard and feels accepted and knows they can talk to their medical provider and have somebody who listens to them,” said Samantha Skipton, a second-year student at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) who serves as the president of Pride at UNTHSC. 

Skipton said understanding the LGBTQ+ community is an ongoing lesson for future doctors, physician assistants, pharmacists and health care providers who need to build trust between patient and doctor. 

Skipton said Pride at UNTHSC wants to keep these topics in discussion year round. 

On June 28, the organization hosted a discussion on health care policies that affect the LGBTQ+ with Dr. Bryn S. Esplin, an assistant professor at TCOM and expert in medical ethics.  

“The health disparities that the transgender community experience involves discrimination and lack of access to quality of care,” said Jonathan Rivera, a PharmD candidate at the College of Pharmacy. 

At the PRIDE at UNTHSC event, Dr. Esplin gave an overview of cases in which LGBTQ+ legislation effects the transgender community, Rivera said. Dr. Esplin also touched on how these cases could affect quality of service for future health care providers.

"Ask me about my pronouns" pins

“It was an engaging discussion that I was proud to be a part of, because it allowed us, students and future health professionals, insight on ways we can be an advocate for the transgender community,” Rivera said. 

The event also featured a table, set up by Pride at UNTHSC, that offered rainbow cookies and pronoun pins available for purchase. 

Pride at UNTHSC is raising awareness about the importance of pronoun use while also helping prevent suicide. The group is raising dollars for The Trevor Project by selling pins that read: “Ask me about ‘my’ Pronouns.” 

The Trevor Project is a national organization that offers suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ students who are younger than 25. 

“We are trying to have pronouns be more relevant and be more normal,” Skipton said, explaining that people are trying to better showcase their pronouns by adding them to email signatures. “It’s to make people feel more welcome and know they are in an environment where people will listen to them and accept them as is.”

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