LGBT Health Graduate Certificate Program Holds First Annual Forum

Event will explore how DOMA repeal and Affordable Care Act affect health in the LGBT community.

LGBT Health Forum
The first annual LGBT Health Forum will be held July 17.
July 15, 2013


Coinciding with the Supreme Court’s recent same-sex marriage decisions, the George Washington University’s LGBT Health Graduate Certificate Program will host its first LGBT Health Forum, “The DOMA Decision and the Affordable Care Act: The Impact on LGBT Health.” The event will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Jack Morton Auditorium and it will be open the public. Guests can RSVP online.

The forum will promote and raise funds for GW’s interdisciplinary LGBT Health Graduate Certificate Program, established this year in response to global trends and national reports showing disparities in LGBT health care. The program is currently holding a summer residency with its inaugural class of 16 students.

Stephen Forssell, an adjunct psychology professor and director of the program, said the annual forum will tackle a different topic related to LGBT health every year. Its first theme was impelled by the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“We’re hoping the forum will start a public dialogue about how important it is that same-sex partnered individuals have access to health care,” Dr. Forssell said, explaining there are more than 1,100 federal benefits for married individuals that are not extended to people in same-sex marriages.

Keynote remarks will cover the evolution of health care, health law and other health-related issues LGBT individuals face in the United States. Walter Dellinger, a constitutional scholar and Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law at Duke University, and T.R. Reid, the best-selling author of “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care,” will offer their perspectives on how the Affordable Care Act will affect the LGBT population.

Charlotte Patterson, a professor of psychology and director of the Women, Gender and Sexuality program at the University of Virginia, will provide a broader examination of LGBT health care today.

A panel moderated by Dr. Forssell will feature Shane Snowdon, director of aging and health policy at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation; Cornelius Baker, technical advisor for AIDS and community health at FHI 360; and Chris Labonte, principal and director of external affairs at Sellers Dorsey.

Whitman-Walker Health, the Human Rights Campaign, the University of Rochester, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Ultimo Lounge, Abundance Management and LGBT Counseling are co-sponsoring the event with GW.

Dr. Forssell is excited that the forum will unite experts from a diverse range of fields.

“We’ve got people on the policy side, people whose careers are dedicated to improving health and people interested in LGBT activism. Bringing these communities together so they understand what they have in common and how they can work with one another is what we want to get out of this event,” he said.

He also looks forward to celebrating the newly established graduate certificate program, its successful enrollment figures and its crop of ambitious new students.

“[The students’] quality is over-the-top good,” Dr. Forssell said. “They are health professionals in every sense of the word, hoping to improve their skills and their ability to serve the population.”