The Registered Nurses'Association of Ontario (RNAO) is committed to speaking out against discrimination and social exclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ontario is home to between 400,000 and 1.25 million people who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, intersex, queer, or questioning (LGBTTTIQQ). Making up five to ten per cent of Ontario's population, those who are members of sexual or gender minority communities routinely experience threats to their health and well-being because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Sexual orientation refers to how we think of ourselves in terms of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of the same gender (gay, lesbian), the other gender (heterosexual), or either gender (bisexual). Gender identity is one's internal and psychological sense of oneself as female, male, both, or neither.
Discrimination against LGBTTTIQQ people may take the form of homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia. Heterosexism is the assumption that everyone is, or should be, heterosexual. Genderism is the belief that the binary construction of gender as either male or female is the most natural, normal, and preferred gender identity. These beliefs and assumptions create conditions that can result in human rights violations and health inequities.
Discrimination Threatens Health Through Violence and Social Exclusion
The health of LGBTTTIQQ people is compromised by direct assaults such as hate crimes, physical violence, and verbal assaults as well as chronic stress caused by stigmatization.
Discrimination Threatens Access to Health Care
LGBTTTIQQ clients too often experience barriers to inclusive and appropriate care because of practices by health care institutions and health professionals that are heterosexist and discriminatory.
Discrimination Threatens Quality Work Environments
Practice environments for LGBTTTIQQ nurses and other health-care professionals can be difficult due to heterosexism and discrimination from colleagues and clients.
RNAO recommendations include:
Human Rights and Health Equity
Client-Centred, Inclusive, and Appropriate Health Care
Quality Work Environments
Please see the PDF version of this document  for footnotes and references.