1st July 2022
Caption: Jimmy Lawless (Dublin Fire Brigade), Dr Ike Okafor (Children's Hospital Ireland) and Naoise Collins (National Ambulance Service)
The HSE National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade recently joined the Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) Hospital Group to embrace the Rainbow Badge as a way to show that their services offer open, non-judgemental and inclusive care for people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Various organisations have implemented this badge since 2019 including Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and CHI. Despite improving social attitudes in general towards LGBTQ+ people in Ireland, negative attitudes (such as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia) still remain.
The badge is intended to be a simple visual symbol identifying its wearer as someone an LGBTQ+ person can feel comfortable talking to about issues relating to sexuality or gender identity. It shows the wearer is there to listen without judgement and signpost to further support if needed.
The initiative was launched during the Dublin Pride Festival to bring about increased awareness among staff of the issues surrounding LGBTQ+ people when accessing healthcare. Such awareness can make significant differences to LGBTQ+ people’s experience, and, in turn on their physical and mental health.
Welcoming the initiative Robert Morton, Director of the HSE National Ambulance Service, said:
“Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are significantly more common in people who identify as LGBTQ+. Research has shown that negative attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people still remain; as a result, LGBTQ+ people can be reluctant to disclose their sexual and / or gender identity to healthcare workers, affecting the quality of the care they receive. We hope this initiative will make a difference for them.”
Also welcoming the initiative Dennis Keeley, Chief Fire Officer of Dublin Fire Brigade said: “Dublin Fire Brigade is delighted to support this initiative to promote a positive message of inclusion for LGBTQ+ people, families and colleagues. Simple symbols, such as the rainbow, are an effective way to signal to LGBTQ+ people that they are in a positive, inclusive, safe environment, and encourage them to talk about things they may otherwise have felt unsure or uncomfortable disclosing. They also encourage conversations amongst staff themselves about the importance of being aware of issues of equality, diversity and inclusion, and help to reinforce the shared responsibility we all have in this regard.”
Eilish Hardiman Chief Executive, Children's Health Ireland added: “We are delighted that both the HSE National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade are planning on rolling out this badge across their organisations. 12 months after implementing the badge across CHI, we see the value this small symbol can bring in terms of positivity and inclusivity for our services and patients. Wearing a badge is only one step towards overcoming healthcare inequalities but with increasing awareness and education we can start to overcome barriers to healthcare for LGBTQ+ young people in Ireland.”
Those staff who elect to wear the badge are given an overview of the challenges that LGBTQ+ people can face in relation to accessing healthcare and negative attitudes which can sometimes still exist. When an individual signs up to wear a badge, they acknowledge why the project is needed and what their responsibility entails.
Those committing to the project are emphasising that they will promote an environment that is open, tolerant and inclusive. The aim of this initiative is to actively break down barriers which LGBTQ+ people may still face.