Chicago…..Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago recently adopted a policy and program initiative that protects the civil rights of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. In 1994, Lurie Children's established the Public Policy Committee of the Board to recommend institutional positions on legislation and regulation that enable the hospital to enhance the health and well-being of all children. This policy promotes appropriate and inclusive healthcare services to transgender and gender nonconforming youth and families.
"Gender nonconforming and transgender children are at an increased risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse," said Robert Garofalo, MD, Division Head of Adolescent Medicine and Medical Director of Lurie Children's Gender Program. "By adopting this policy, the Board is backing our program and gender diverse youth 100 percent — from the medical care that we provide to the advocacy we do in schools and in the community. Without that — we would not be as effective."
Lurie Children's Gender specialists became aware of a civil rights issue involving a transgender student in Palatine who was granted access to the girl's locker room. A first for the school district — they called upon Lurie Children's Program Manager Jennifer Leininger to train staff and administrators on how to deal with gender non-conforming students. Leininger focuses on helping schools create an environment where the student feels accepted and not marginalized.
"We know that schools can be one of the most unsafe environments for transgender children and adolescents because of the high frequency of violence, harassment, and bullying that occurs," said Leininger. "Our job is to educate staff and students to around how to support everyone, including gender diverse individuals. "
Lurie Children's Gender and Sex Development Program is one of only 25 in the country and the first to open in the Midwest. Clinicians see over 300 patients, Up to age 25. Garofalo, who is a leader in the field of adolescent transgender health, serves as a primary investigator on a National Institutes of Health research grant focusing on transgender people.
Lurie Children's is ranked as one of the nation's top children's hospitals in theU.S.News & World Report 2015-16 Honor Roll rankings. Founded in 1882, Lurie Children's is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and one of only a handful of U.S. children's hospitals with a dedicated pediatric research center, Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute. Last year, clinicians treated more than 174,000 patients.