Recently I wrote a blog about LGBTQ Pride celebrations describing how upset I was that LGBTQ young people were still suffering high levels of abuse, discrimination and mental health issues as a result of their identity. I promised to reflect on what more the RPS could do to support pharmacists to help young LGBTQ people and we are exploring how our future RPS campaigns can deliver this.
What I didn’t reckon on was the response I got from my fellow pharmacists about their experiences coming out as LGBTQ or, indeed, their reasons for not coming out. It has made me realise that my experience has been privileged (or maybe it’s just pure luck). Some LGBTQ pharmacy staff have described to me overt discrimination in the workplace ranging from homophobic or transphobic ‘jokes’ to bullying and harassment. At the recent RPS Conference a number of colleagues told me about their experiences or the experiences of people they knew, and how the isolation they felt had impacted on their own mental health.
The fact that people working in my profession, a profession I immensely proud to play an active part in, still suffer discrimination because of their sexuality, race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, gender, disability, or for any reason is not acceptable.
So, as well as working to ensure the communities and people we serve as pharmacists are supported by pharmacy services we also need to look at the experiences of people within our profession. The popularity of our RPS Conference session on developing professional and personal wellbeing and resilience, and my experience as a trustee of Pharmacist Support, shows me that we all have more to do to support our colleagues. I commit to doing more. I’m not going to pretend I know what that is yet but I hope you will take the opportunity, as those I’ve spoken to already have done, to give me your ideas about how the RPS can help to create a profession where you all feel comfortable to be yourselves.