LGBTQ Health

General Information

Welcome to the LGBTQ section of the Health Education web site. The web site is designed to be sensitive to LGBTQ students on every page and to address the health information needs of LGBTQ students throughout the site, not just on this page. For example, we use gender neutral language in the Sexual Health section (unless we're talking about things like pregnancy), and our dating violence pages include information on same-sex dating violence and resources for LGBTQ students. This section is designed as an introduction to some health issues for LGBTQ students and as an easy way to find information, links, student groups and campus resources.

What are the major health issues facing LGBTQ people?

When we talk about health issues for LGBTQ people, these are usually based on statistical information on what people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender report in studies. Therefore, it may be that some of the health issues identified as gay men's or lesbian's health issues in the lists below do not pertain to you just because you identify that way. For instance, while there is a higher rate of HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM), that does not mean that all MSM are at the same risk for HIV infection. MSM who abstain from sex, are in mutually monogamous relationships, only practice oral sex, or always use condoms, all have lower risks for HIV. Generalizations about LGBTQ health necessarily rely on generalizations about LGBTQ identity and behavior. The lists of health concerns in this section are, therefore, not prescriptive, but for your information. It is most important for LGBTQ students, as with other students, to find a medical provider you trust and who is aware of these issues.

For a list and discussion of top health issues impacting LGBTQ community members, click on the links.

Gay Men and MSM Health Concerns

Lesbian and WSW Health Concerns

Bisexual Health Concerns

Trans Health

How do I prepare for a visit to Health Services as an LGBTQ student?

Sometimes you might feel uncomfortable seeking health care because of a fear of homophobia. This can make it harder to seek health care when you need it. This problem may be compounded if you are a person of color and fear racial prejudice. Health Services works hard to be a safe space for LGBTQ students to seek appropriate, sensitive, non-discriminatory health care.

What you can expect
On a visit to Health Services you can expect to receive comprehensive care that is sensitive to you as an LGBTQ person and knowledgeable about health care concerns you might have. This includes, but is not limited to, concerns you might have about sexual health and sexuality. Questions about sexual activity are not intended to stereotype you and are not based on assumptions about how you behave. Rather, they're a standard part of care at Health Services. A good medical provider will ask questions about your health behavior in a sensitive way, not making any assumptions, but assessing your level of risk. However, if you ever don't feel comfortable answering a question, just say so. Remember that your visits to Health Services are covered by medical confidentiality laws.

Patient-provider communication
You play an integral part in the health care you receive. Communicating openly and honestly with your medical provider is an important way to receive comprehensive and sensitive medical care. This includes talking about issues like sex and gender identity. It's also important that you feel like you can ask questions of your provider. We suggest that you find a provider at Health Services that you feel comfortable with to take the lead on your medical care. While all providers are available to you, this provider can come to know your history well, and, by building a relationship with this provider, you will optimize your health care and feel safer discussing your concerns and issues. You can ask around about which providers your friends use or make a point of meeting different providers when you schedule appointments. You can always request a specific Health Services provider by name or request a provider by gender.

Prepare for your visit
One way to approach a trip to Health Services if you're nervous is to do some research before you come in. Check out our pages on health issues and concerns for women who have sex with women, men who have sex with men, bisexuals, and trans* students. If you have questions for your provider, write them down and bring them in -- sometimes it's hard to remember all of your questions once you're in the exam room. Remember that you can tell your provider that you are nervous and they can help you through the questions.

Give us feedback
Finally, patient comments are very important to us. If you have any feedback about our services, good or bad, please fill out a patient comment form and put it in the boxes that are in the waiting rooms. We address all complaints, and the more specific you are, the better we will be able to fix the problem. If you choose to leave your name, we will follow up with you.

Health Services is located at 13 Brown Street on the corner of Brown and Charlesfield Streets. Call 401.863-3953 to make an appointment.

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How do I respond to homophobic, biphobic or transphobic harassment?

It's a shame that we have to deal with this sort of thing, but sometimes we do. Homophobic, biphobic or transphobic words, threats, or even violence can be very damaging to your sense of safety. It's good to be prepared with a response before it happens.

Each person's response will be unique and may be different from situation to situation. Obviously addressing homophobia, biphobia or transphobia and responding to it without escalating the situation is the best option, but that's not always possible if you feel intimidated, threatened, or if you're not out of the closet. Fortunately at Brown you have allies in students and student groups, in the administration, in Public Safety, and in the faculty. Here are some ideas for ways to handle these situations:

  • Assess your situation. Are you alone? Are you in any physical danger? Do you feel comfortable addressing the homophobia/biphobia/transphobia or do you have a more immediate need to see to your safety?
  • If you feel that you're in any danger, try to leave the situation and get to a blue phone to call Public Safety (401.863-4111). If that's not possible look around and see if there's anyone else's help you can enlist. Don't be afraid to be loud and draw attention to yourself.
  • If you feel you can respond safely, try to respond in a way that does not escalate the situation. Insulting your harasser or casting aspersions on his/her own humanity isn't a good method either. A response to homophobic language might go something like this: "Excuse me. As a lesbian, I'm offended by what you said. No one likes to be put down because of who they are."
  • You can also report homophobic, biphobic or transphobic harassment to Brown through the Office of Student Life (401.863-3800 Dean Carla Hansen) or the Special Victims Unit of the Department of Public Safety (863-2542).
  • Get support from the LGBTQ Center (863-3062, temporarily housed in Hillel for 2009-2010) or the student group Queer Alliance.
  • Remember that if you've been harassed it's normal to feel upset, angry, or sad. Talk to someone you trust to help you work through your feelings and decide if there's something more you want to do. There is help on campus for getting through this including Psychological Services, and the Office of Student Life.

Resources at Brown

Brown LGBTQ Center   401.863-6062          
The LGBTQ Center is a safe space for all students, staff, and faculty dealing with questions of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Center offers confidential support, information, and referrals for LGBTQ individuals and the people in their lives. Additionally, it offers fellowship advising and assistance with academic projects, as well as educational workshops.

Health Promotion 401.863-2794
Health Promotion is available for individual appointments and group education on a variety of health issues, including LGBT health, alcohol, other drugs, nutrition and safer sex. We have condoms, lube, and dental dams available at rock-bottom prices. Come visit us, we are located on the 3rd floor of Health Services.

Health Services 401.863-3593 
Health Services provides a range of services including general health care, STI testing, inpatient services and emergency medical care. You can request a medical provider by gender or you can request a specific provider by name. We are located at 13 Brown Street on the corner of Brown and Charlesfield Streets. Call 401.863-3953 to make an appointment.

Counseling and Psychological Services 401.863-3476
Counseling and Psychological Services provides individual appointments, referrals, and crisis counseling.

Sarah Doyle Women's Center 401.863-2189 
The Center welcomes all students interested in gender issues and offers a variety of services and programs, as well as meeting space for university and community groups. The SDWC houses an art gallery, a darkroom, an extensive library and resource center, and a student lounge.

Chaplain's Office 401.863-2344
The Chaplains are available for personal counseling about religious and social issues, parental and peer difficulties, career choices, interpersonal relationships and sexuality. A number of programs are offered during the year that include ecumenical discussion groups, innovative worship experience, ecumenical services, and dramatic and artistic events.

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Student Groups

Queer Alliance
The Queer Alliance serves as an umbrella organization for a number of student groups on campus. Its mission is to be a multifaceted service to the LGBT community by offering resources through subgroups, community discussions, and events. The LGBTQ Resource Center (Faunce House, Room 321) has a wide array of queer-related books, movies, literature and resources. E-mail for more information.

Alliance for Queer Understanding & Awareness. An educational activism group that develops and facilitates training and programming on a range of LGBTQ issues for first-year units, student organizations, and other off-campus groups/schools to combat homophobia.

Inter-College Group
Working to bring together queer and allied students from Brown, RISD, URI, Johnson & Wales, and elsewhere.

TNT (The Next Thing)
The Next Thing is a confidential support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning students of color.

BiTE (Bisexuals Talk and Eat)
Bisexuals talk and eat. Discussion and social group for ever-redefining boundaries with food.

Girls Night Out
A woman's social group for "girls who kiss girls, or want to" and allies.

A study break/social for queer students at Brown and RISD. The group meets for an unstructured period to eat, meet other LGBT students and allies, and relax. Its primary goal is to provide a safe space for queer students to socialize. Straight allies are always welcome and so are guests from other schools.

A discussion/action group of radical queers dedicated to anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-war, pro-feminist, pro-environmental justice, pro-trans, pro-queer organizing and politics.

A group of students interested in LGBTQ politics both in RI and around the country to discuss the issues and plan educational events and political action.

Queer Community Committee
The Queer Community committee plans services and events for the benefit of the Brown queer community. Past events have included free, anonymous, oral swab HIV testing and a lecture and screening from a prominent LGBTQ filmmaker; future projects include a survey of queer history at Brown.

Queer Hillel
Provides a relaxed atmosphere and a forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students from a variety of Jewish backgrounds.

Children of LGBT parents and allies that come together to speak about their experiences and educate others about the subject.

A confidential support group for questioning and coming out students.

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Providence Resources

AIDS Project Rhode Island 401.831-5522  
AIDS Project Rhode Island provides client services, prevention and education programs, volunteer opportunities and community events.

RI Gay & Lesbian Helpline 401.751-3322
Available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 7pm-10pm

Options (Gay and Lesbian Newspaper) 401.781-1193
Rhode Island's gay and lesbian newspaper provides local news, health information, arts information and lists local resources and support groups. You can request free copies online or view recent issues online.

RI Pride 401.467-2130          
RI Pride promotes and celebrates the diversity and successes of the LGBT community. The web site includes a calendar of events and volunteer opportunities.

Youth Pride, Inc. 401.421-5626  
Youth Pride, Inc. has a drop-in center, support group and outreach activities for LGBT youth ages 13-23.

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Links you can use

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association 
This site provides LGBTQ-friendly health care referrals, medical information, publications, news and links.

PFLAG Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays
National group helping parents understand their children's sexuality and advocating for LGBT civil rights.

Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth has developed programs to help decrease the isolation felt by many LGBTQ youth. It offers a variety of research based approaches, designed to decrease health disparities in LGBTQ communities, which can be used by both LGBTQ community members and allies.

FTM International 
FTM International provides information about female to male transgendered people, through their newsletter and other publications, through support from volunteers who are willing to help if you need someone to talk to, or through our list of online mailing lists and links, and also through their monthly meetings, calendar and special events.

The GLBT Health Access Project
The GLBT Health Access Project works with GLBT populations, and those who serve them, to respond to needs in a timely and targeted manner. They provide training, technical assistance and materials to help service providers learn more about the health care needs of GLBT populations and create welcoming environments for staff and clients.

The National Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health
The National Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health is committed to improving the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and communities through public education, coalition building and advocacy that focuses on research, policy, education and training.

Gender Education and Advocacy 
Gender Education and Advocacy is a national organization focused on the needs, issues and concerns of gender variant people in society. They seek to educate and advocate for all individuals who suffer from gender-based oppression in all of its many forms.

Fenway Community Health 
Fenway Community Health is a Boston based clinic that serves LGBTQ patients. Their webpage offers a variety of health information needs, as well as research and resources outside of FCH.

CDC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Heatlth Pages
A variety of information on important health issues, including safer sex and STI information

Go Ask Alice 
This is an LGBTQ-friendly question-and-answer web site where you can anonymously email any health questions you have. This site has a huge archive that you can read through or search before posing your own question. Alice has answered a range of questions from "Is shoe size a predictor of penis length?" to "Does masturbation inhibit my growth?" Check out this in-depth web site for information about relationships, sexuality, emotional health, alcohol and other drugs, and nutrition. This site is provided by Columbia University's Health Education Program.

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Disclaimer: BWell Health Promotion is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Promotion maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Promotion offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.