Cleveland Clinic: Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community During Pride Month and Beyond

Pride flag

With a mission to provide comprehensive and compassionate care for all patients regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Cleveland Clinic is dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community both inside and outside of clinical practice.

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“Inclusion is one of our core values at Cleveland Clinic,” notes Michelle Del Toro, MPH, MALS, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “We want to ensure that the unique needs of every individual are met. To do so, we are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment while addressing health disparities and improving patient outcomes.”

During Pride Month—and beyond— Cleveland Clinic’s ClinicPride Employee Resource Group (ERG) has spearheaded a number of events and initiatives to help raise awareness and make a difference within the community.

T-shirt Fundraiser: One-hundred percent of the proceeds from this initiative will go to Cleveland Clinic’s Center for LGBTQ+ Care at the Lakewood Family Health Center, which includes providers with an understanding of the health needs of LGBTQ+ patients. The first batch of T-shirts, which sold out in two days, raised more than $8,000 within three weeks, according to Del Toro. As of publishing, the items are out of stock after three reprints; we are thankful to all for the support.

Pride in the CLE March and Festival: Held in Downtown Cleveland, this event drew 30,000 attendees. More than 75 caregivers participated in the parade. Throughout the event, an additional 50 volunteers connected with the community to help raise awareness about primary and specialty care services. In addition, providers with expertise in LGBTQ+ care were on hand to educate attendees about the importance of inclusion, according to Del Toro. Our booth convened leaders from ClinicPride ERG, the Center for LGBTQ+ Care, Taussig Cancer Center and the Women’s Health Institute.

Thrive with Pride Health and Wellness Day: This health screening event held in conjunction with theLGBTQ+ Community Center offered a variety of services, including primary care visits, cancer screenings and medical testing. Free, walk-in health screenings were provided to 75 new patients last year, notes Del Toro, emphasizing that such initiatives have proven effective to address healthcare disparities.

Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride in Florida: This is the first time Cleveland Clinic was involved in this event, which is part of the ongoing expansion of the ClinicPride ERG, which launched a Florida region chapter in 2021. Caregivers from Cleveland Clinic Weston, Martin Health and Indian River Hospital will participate in the parade and celebration.

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ClinicPride’s Interactive Discussion on Activism and Empowerment: The ClinicPride ERG is holding an interactive “lunch and learn” about advocacy and activism. The keynote speaker is Ken Schneck, an author, radio host and editor of the Buckeye Flame—an online publication that amplifies LGBTQ+ voices. “Our goal is to further empower the LGBTQ+ community and their allies to advocate by providing tips and tools to increase engagement and support,” notes Del Toro. “As an organization, we are monitoring proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation to determine how we can increase our support.”

Akron Pride: Planning is underway for this event, which will take place in August. Akron General’s ClinicPride ERG chapter will collaborate with Kent State University to disseminate results from the first comprehensive Greater Akron five-county LGBTQ+ community needs assessment, which was sponsored in part by Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

Through these events and more, Cleveland Clinic remains dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. In 2022, 10 of Cleveland Clinic’s facilities achieved Leader status in the Human Rights Campaign’s LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities for their dedication to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees. Additionally, recognizing the organization’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, publisher DiversityInc named Cleveland Clinic to its Top Hospitals & Health Systems list for the 13th consecutive year, ranking #2 (up from #5 the previous year).

“These recognitions demonstrate how our organization has continued to move the needle through inclusion and a commitment to the hiring, retention, promotion and engagement of caregivers from diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives,” notes Del Toro.

“It is our responsibility to support the communities we serve,” she says. “Historically, the LGBTQ+ community has been underserved; as an organization, we aim to address these disparities and provide care that meets the unique health needs of this population. They are our patients, our caregivers, and our community, and we are committed to creating a safe, inclusive space and sense belonging for everyone.”

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