By Conference Minister Diane Weible
In Response to the “Lets Talk” article last week detailing our small group conversations initiative, I have received an email about the urgency of action. I interpreted the author to be saying that we are beyond conversation and it’s time to act. While I do not agree with that statement, I would argue that the urgency of our world today compels us to do both. We need to talk AND we need to act.
As for talking, it’s not too late to sign up for our small group conversations (see article below). We will begin this online opportunity for conversations on issues of privilege and race. We need to talk about these issues if we want to change ourselves and if we want to be agents of transformative change. Please consider signing up.
As for action, there are two opportunities for you to act this week. Both of these initiatives are invitations for all of us to understand and support people in situations that no human should ever have to face.
The first opportunity is to support a campaign led by nine of our East Bay churches to erase almost $5 million of medical debt for people living in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Every donation of $100 can erase $10,000 worth of debt. Click HERE for information about this campaign with details how you can support this important work.
The second opportunity comes from several doctors affiliated with the University of California Medical Centers. The University of California (UC) released a report with request for public comments that considers whether UC should affiliate with religious hospitals that prohibit basic reproductive health services for women and LGBT people.
These doctors are asking for faith members to share their stories and thoughts during this public phase to prevent the University of California from affiliating with health systems that use religious directives to prohibit essential medical care for women and LGBT people.
According to the Human Rights Campaign website (www.hrc.org), fear of discrimination causes many LGBTQ people to avoid seeking health care, and when they do enter care, studies indicate that LGBTQ people are not consistently treated with the respect that all patients deserve. Studies show that 56% of LGBT people and 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming people reported experiencing discrimination by health care providers — including refusal of care, harsh language and physical roughness because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 23% of transgender respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person and a startling 55% of transgender respondents who sought coverage for transition-related surgery were denied. Delay and avoidance of care due to fear of discrimination compounds the significant health disparities experienced by LGBTQ people.
You can help by voicing your support and the doctors asking for your help have provided a sample text: “I support OPTION 2 in this report because UC patients should not receive care that is restricted based on Catholic religious doctrine. UC doctors, nurses, and students should not be asked to work in hospitals where religious policies prevent them from providing scientifically based standard of care services. While other states are working to decrease access to women’s reproductive services and lack protections for LGBT people, California’s public university system must be strong and unequivocal it its support of contraception, abortion and gender affirming care.”