Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health

Our Focus

Institutional Climate and Visibility

LGBT individuals face many challenges to an equitable healthcare environment. It is estimated that 73% of transgender patients and 29% of LGB patients believed medical personnel would treat them differently if they disclosed their LGBT status.

LGBT students, staff, and employees in health professional schools may also be fearful of biased treatment. Approximately 17% of LGBT medical students have reported hostile environments and 15% reported being aware of the mistreatment of LGBT students.

Fear and stress caused by a hostile environment negatively impacts patient care and the quality of work and education. Penn respects the need of LGBT individuals and embraces work, training, and healthcare environments free from abuse, harassment, and discrimination.

The Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health supports LGBT individuals in the workplace, classroom, and healthcare settings by promoting an LGBT-inclusive climate and culture. Fostering institutional climate and visibility will ensure that LGBT faculty, students, staff, and patients feel fully welcomed and accepted at Penn.

Health Education

Major health organizations have reported large gaps in LGBT health education. On average, medical students receive less than 5 hours of training on LGBT issues during medical school. Similarly, these organizations recognize the challenges faced by LGBT health professional students and the need to broaden education in the field of LGBT health. A 2013 Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) report recommended that health professional schools provide professional development workshops for LGBT students, raise awareness about LGBT discrimination, and give presentations on LGBT health disparities.

The Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health promotes LGBT health education and provides mentorship and professional development for LGBT students, trainees, and faculty.


Challenges to conducting LGBT research include defining sexual orientation and gender identity, the fear of LGBT individuals disclosing their sexuality, and encouraging research participation among the LGBT community. In response to these challenges, the Institute of Medicine has called for more extensive research to promote further understanding of LGBT health.

The Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health engages in research on the optimal ways to improve the care of LGBT patients and their families and to educate the healthcare workforce. The program aims to increase LGBT participation in Penn research initiatives and support new areas of research in LGBT health.

Patient Care

LGBT individuals, and in particular transgender people, face provider and health system barriers to care. Provider level barriers include negative beliefs and actions toward LGBT patients and gaps in knowledge about the health concerns facing the LGBT population. Health system barriers include inequitable health insurance plans and hospital/clinic policies and practices. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Healthy People 2020 have identified specific objectives to addressing health inequity and barriers to care for the LGBT community.

Penn believes that LGBT patients have the right to high quality care, free from abuse, harassment, and discrimination. In addition, Penn provides domestic partnership benefits and health insurance to ensure that the families of LGBT staff have access to healthcare. The Penn Medicine Program for LGBT health continues to improve patient and family-centered care for LGBT individuals by connecting LGBT individuals with caring, compassionate, and skilled providers.

Community Outreach

The City of Philadelphia is home to a vibrant LGBT community. Numerous organizations work to promote LGBT health and wellness in Philadelphia, including the Mazzoni Center, William Way LGBT Community Center, the Attic Youth Center, and the LGBT Elder Initiative. The Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health partners with community organizations to improve access to high quality care, address LGBT health disparities, and better meet the needs of the community.