Cornell Health earned a perfect score on the Healthcare Equality Index survey to receive "LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader" designation by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

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Cornell Health named LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader

Cornell Health earned a perfect score on the Healthcare Equality Index survey to receive "LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader" designation by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nation's largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. In its 16th edition, the 2024 Healthcare Equality Index is a national benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities, both inside and outside of higher education, on their LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion policies and practices. This year’s index assessed nearly 2,400 healthcare facilities nationwide, with only 384 facilities receiving the "LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader" designation.

“This important work aligns with Cornell Health’s broader diversity and inclusion initiatives aimed at addressing healthcare inequities and eliminating barriers to care,” said Dr. Jada Hamilton, interim chief of clinical operations and services at Cornell Health. “Ensuring all students have the opportunity to achieve their highest level of health and well-being is essential, and our staff at Cornell Health is dedicated to this mission—both personally and professionally.”

Cornell Health offers services and support for LGBTQ+ students, including affirming medical care, sexual health care, mental health care, and identity-related support. Gender-affirming care at Cornell Health includes hormone therapy, referrals for gender-affirming surgeries, free binding and tucking supplies, and assistance with legal documentation for name and gender marker changes. Patients can receive referrals to specialized providers and access ongoing care resources.

“For myself and other students utilizing Cornell Health’s gender-affirming supplies, hormone replacement therapy, and CAPS services, Cornell Health has become a cornerstone of support,” said Julian Iwasko ‘26, a program coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center. “This designation symbolizes Cornell’s tangible commitment to prioritizing LGBTQ+ health and well-being. Knowing that Cornell provides safe spaces and knowledgeable healthcare professionals instills a sense of trust and security.”

Cornell Health also closely collaborates with the LGBT Resource Center, part of the Dean of Students’ Center for Student Equity, Empowerment, and Belonging. Together, they provide outreach, education, and programming to address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ students. Joint initiatives include health and wellness programs, support groups, and educational workshops aimed at fostering an inclusive campus environment. This partnership also facilitates streamlined access to gender-affirming care and mental health services.

"The support that Cornell Health offers is head and shoulders above other higher education institutions,” said Cortney Johnson, director of the LGBT Resource Center. “Cornell Health’s commitment to LGBTQ+ students is evident in their continuous efforts to improve services. The Healthcare Equality Index leadership designation acknowledges that there are things we can do to make healthcare more accessible and affirming.” 

Kim VanNorman, community liaison for LGBTQ+ students and a counselor at Cornell Health, emphasized ongoing efforts to continue to improve support for the LGBTQ+ community on campus. Working closely with other Cornell Health staff and the LGBT Resource Center, VanNorman is currently working towards creating a Gender Services intake appointment to better meet the needs of gender expansive students at CAPS; improving communication and outreach by creating new programming with the LGBT Resource Center to meet the needs of the LGBTQ+ student body; and implementing campus-wide facility improvements, such as additional single-stall restrooms and inclusive changing rooms at fitness facilities. 

“Receiving this designation means Cornell Health is a leader in this important work, and I am proud to be a part of it,” VanNorman said. "When I engage with campus partners and students, I am confident in sharing the resources we have and our efforts to continually improve services for our students.”

Stephen D’Angelo is a communications lead for Student and Campus Life

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