By Wendy Sarubbi | August 19, 2019 1:33 pm

“If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa.

With these words, Dr. Deborah German, College of Medicine dean, welcomed more than 100 people to the third annual Knights Practicing with Pride Barbecue, an event focused on health disparities in the LGBTQ community.

The Aug. 16 event, organized by the medical school’s LGBTQ Student Group, brought together students, faculty, staff, advocates and community partners to celebrate and encourage LGBTQ inclusiveness in healthcare.

This year’s keynote speaker was state Rep. Anna Eskamani, a UCF alumna and staunch advocate for the LGBTQ community.

“As incoming providers in medicine, you’re going to be leading the charge with a vision for a future that is reflective of who we are as human beings — compassionate, empathetic people,” she said. “And I can’t stress enough how at this moment in your academic career, you should be engaging as advocates, you should be coming to Tallahassee, or making appointments with your local elected officials at the city or county level right here.”

“And no matter what field of medicine you go into, delivering culturally-sensitive care, and being competent with that, should be everyone’s goal,” she added.

Also speaking was Dr. Eric Schrimshaw, chair of the medical school’s new Population Health Sciences Department. He encouraged students to not only be The Good Doctor to all patients, but to advocate for policies that end health disparities.

“In population health, we understand that health is not just the result of the clinical encounter with a good doctor,” he said. “Health also requires a healthy society. Many of the health crises in the LGBTQ community — HIV, violence, suicide, lack of access — are symptoms of a society that allows discriminatory policies to persist and ignores the problems experienced by those who are different from ourselves.”

“Having good doctors who work to create a healthy society is the way to truly eliminate LGBTQ health disparities, and achieve a truly healthy population,” Dr. Schrimshaw noted.

Local organizations, including the OnePulse Foundation, Miracle of Love, The LGBT+ Center Orlando and UCF’s LGBTQ+ Services joined the event and distributed information on their services.

Second-year medical student Matthew Abrams, president of the LGBTQ Student Group, said the event educated future healthcare providers on respecting the diversity of human expression and becoming advocates for all of their patients.

“I think having events like this that motivate us to reflect and use the privileges that come with our medical training to create a better society is super important,” he said.

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