A national advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals named the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center a 2018 leader for its services to LGBTQ students on campus.
The Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index has previously listed UCLA as a top performer in LGBTQ healthcare, but on April 2, the survey found UCLA reached a higher level of providing healthcare to LGBTQ students and engaging in outreach and education programs. A school must meet certain benchmarks to reach this level, including holding staff training and having strong nondiscrimination policies.
The HRC is the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights foundation, with more than three million members. It has published the Healthcare Equality Index for 11 years to survey how healthcare facilities provide services specifically for LGBTQ patients, and surveyed more than 600 facilities this year.
David Baron, executive director of the Ashe Center, said the center provides a variety of services for LGBTQ students, including hormonal treatment for transgender students. He added that forms now ask for students’ gender as well as their preferred pronouns so healthcare professionals can address transgender students correctly. The center advertises its services on campus through the LGBT Campus Resource Center and other media resources, he said.
“We are trying to bring as many services as possible under one roof,” he said. “This drives a lot of what we do.”
Geno Mehalik, the outreach and programs manager of the Ashe Center, said the center aims to create a welcoming environment for all students so they do not feel excluded while trying to obtain medical care.
The Ashe Center has also worked closely with the LGBTQ center at UCLA to improve its healthcare services, Baron said. Over the past three years, the two centers have collaborated to ensure that the Ashe Center met the Healthcare Equality Index’s criteria. As a result of this partnership, the Ashe Center started advertising services geared toward transgender individuals. For example, the Ashe Center helps advertise gender neutral restrooms on campus so students know where they can access this service, Mehalik said.
He also said the center aims to open up a conversation about LGBTQ health services by encouraging students to speak up about their healthcare needs and to be honest with their healthcare providers.
He added the center also relies on feedback, including from the Student Health Advisory Committee, the LGBTQ center, surveys sent out to students and the dean of students.
Baron said the Ashe Center studied the criteria necessary to achieve the award and made changes it hoped would benefit the UCLA community.
“We’re much more interested in the underlying principles behind the certification and how students benefit from our services,” he said.