Published: May 7, 2024

Chip with a pride flagCU Boulder Health and Wellness Services is a 2024 LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). The recognition highlights the university’s commitment to provide inclusive and equitable health care for all members of our community. 

“For LGBTQ+ students, the designation means structural change has been instituted to ensure their needs are met, health disparities are being lessened and they can feel comfortable knowing that the staff is highly adept and knowledgeable regarding the health issues that most impact our population,” said Sally Lowell, a clinical manager at Medical Services

This achievement comes at a crucial time when LGBTQ+ individuals face discrimination and barriers to accessing health care services. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ adults to experience mistreatment by health care providers. 

The recognition from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which aims to drive transformational change and advance LGBTQ+ rights across various sectors, shows CU Boulder is working to remove those barriers and offer medical care that is inclusive of the specific medical needs for LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff.  

“Cisgender, heterosexual people and LGBTQ+ have very different health needs,” explained Pride Office Director Morgan Seamont. “Whether that's related to sexual health, reproductive health or trans care." 

A commitment to improvement 

Health and Wellness Services received the designation by scoring 100 in the HEI survey, an increase from 95 in 2022.  

“We initially participated in the HEI survey to see where we were at, and we have improved our score over the years,” said Seamont. “The university has made a long-term, substantial commitment to better serve the LGBTQ+ population on campus.” 

Medical Services submitted the accreditation application in 2022 and expanded the 2024 application to include all of Health and Wellness Services to highlight its interdisciplinary work. 

To improve the score from 95 to 100, Health and Wellness Services collaborated with various groups across campus including the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Human Resources, the Pride Office and the Health and Wellness Services’ Transcare Team. Each of these departments invested in training and other programs to better support the LGBTQ+ community.  

These partnerships also ensure the university continuously develops and maintains campuswide policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ students and staff. Seamont added that the collaboration encourages each office to participate in LGBTQ+ programs and events on campus that are outside of their usual scope of work. For example, Seamont said campus partners came to the Pride Picnic last year to advertise the services they offer for transgender and nonbinary students. 

“We can use this to let students and parents know that, yes, your LGBTQ son, daughter, nonbinary student is coming to an inclusive university,” said Seamont. 

While 100 is the highest score in the index, Medical Services recognizes it does not mean campus is perfect. Health and Wellness Services is required to re-apply for that status every two years, which holds each department and program accountable for keeping high standards.  

“There is always more work to be done, and the accreditation affirms we are actively working to cultivate a safer and more affirming campus for all Buffs to achieve their highest potential,” said Lowell. “It inspires us to continue this vital work, knowing that substantive change is possible." 

An inclusive university 

The LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation shows Health and Wellness Services is also committed to advocating for LGBTQ+ staff on campus. One criteria of the index was that the “organization has a diversity and inclusion office, diversity council or working group focused on employee diversity that specifically includes LGBTQ+ diversity as part of its mission.” 

To meet that criteria, Health and Wellness Services shared the university’s Employee Affinity Groups bylaws to highlight its support of those communities, which includes LGBTQ+ staff. Lowell said that Health and Wellness Services is working to put those commitments into action with its internal hiring practices and support of staff. 

In addition to this new recognition, CU Boulder remains one of the top 40 universities for LGBTQ+ inclusion.  

Campus Pride ranks the university as a “Best of the Best” for LGBTQ+ students. The university has five out of five stars in the Campus Pride Index, an overall indicator of institutional commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive policy, program and practice. 

If you are a campus community member and need LGBTQ+ support, visit the Pride Office and learn how to access the inclusive and knowledgeable help you need within Health and Wellness Services.