It's Pride month! After a two-year hiatus, Seattle is planning its biggest Pride celebration ever. A contingent of some 200 caregivers will be marching in the Seattle Pride parade on June 26.
During Pride month and every month, Swedish is committed to ensuring safe, high-quality care to every patient, regardless of gender identity or expression or sexual orientation. To learn more about how the Swedish community is celebrating Pride this year, we spoke with Peter Mann-King (he/him/they/them), manager of the Swedish LGBTQI+ program about what's in the works for June and how we can all support our LGBTQIA+ community.
So how is Swedish preparing for Pride month this year and what can we expect to see from Swedish at our local Pride celebrations?
Swedish has a long history or participating in Pride and the Seattle Pride parade for many years. And so, we're excited now after two years of doing virtual pride events to now be able to walk in person at the Seattle Pride parade on June 26 with about 200 caregivers. And this year, we're including our Providence and PacMed affiliated groups, which is really exciting. We’ll have a larger group of caregivers, and that broader community of Swedish will move that history forward.
Swedish is excited about the next phase of our Pride work. The five Swedish hospital campuses Edmonds, Cherry Hill, First Hill, Issaquah, Ballard will all be raising the Progress Pride flag this year, which is new. In the past, we raised our traditional eight colored Pride flag. This year we're moving to a more inclusive pride flag which has black and brown and light blue, pink and white colors in addition to the traditional rainbow pride flag, which symbolizes the addition of calling out our Black and Brown LGBTQIA+ members of the Community and then also our trans and gender diverse community as well. It's significant because this is the next step for how Swedish is recognizing our entire LGBTQIA+ community and also you know calling out that our community and recognizing the expansiveness of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Our Mill Creek caregivers will be participating as well. This is the first time they're raising a [Pride] flag and that's really exciting at one of our freestanding emergency departments. So that will be a new addition to Pride. Traditionally it's been the five hospital campuses and our Swedish Medical Group, which has really benefited, I think, from seeing the Pride flags on our Swedish hospital campuses. This will be the first year also we will be posting pride posters in over 100 of the Swedish Medical Group clinics across the central area and so those will be going up to about the same time as our pride flags will be raised.
Throughout Pride month, we’ll also be recognizing our caregivers who identify as LGBTQIA+ and do the work to care for our patients and community every day at Swedish. We also have an internal Pride Month virtual talk on June 16 where we’ll be discussing some of the work that Swedish has moved forward in the last year to two years, including human resources guidance around transitioning at work, around restrooms and locker room usage, and name and gender, which will include our new real estate signage updates for all gender, single use restrooms.
We'll also highlight some of the programs work Swedish's LGBTQI+ program and how those are accessible to our community across the region. On June 25th we’ll have Pride Night with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. We're really excited about that and celebrating with so many strong LGBTQIA+ leaders and advocates that play for Seattle Storm. We will also honor the executive director of UTOPIA WA, Taffy Johnson, as the honorary coach for the night. UTOPIA WA is an amazing queer and trans people of color-led organization that Swedish has been fortunate to support over the past few years.
How does this year’s Pride reflect the work of our program in the broader community?
Walking in the Pride parade, especially with 200 caregivers who work in our organization and their guests, is so exciting because we get to meet people who maybe we aren't familiar with or have only met virtually. We get to learn about our community, and the people doing some amazing work in our community we might not be aware of—that's going be the really exciting part about the Pride parade being in person this year is. We are offering Pride t-shirts to those who walk in the parade. People will be visible. They will be seen. And because it has our organization's name on it, it shows that we are proud to work at this organization that supports the work that we're doing. It also acknowledges that we have room to grow and learn as we do that with our LGBTQIA+ community.
After years of logging into Zoom and virtual events it will definitely be worth the wait! Many people are excited about that.
Swedish and Providence announced this milestone unification in March. What do you want the community and and allies to know about care here at Swedish and with our Swedish providers?
Swedish has been affiliated with Providence for over 10 years. Swedish started the LGBTQI+ program to serve and work with our whole LGBTQI+ community. That work doesn't change with this official rebranding of Providence/Swedish.
All the resources of the Swedish LGBTQI+ program are accessible online and the work that we've planned to do will continue. We’ll continue encouraging people to visit our transgender health website where we have a list of gender affirming providers across different specialty groups. We are reaffirming that that will be more of a vital resource for the Puget Sound Region.
We also have an LGBTQIA+ website now which highlights some of the work that our program does. We are looking to continue the working in four major areas, which are building our clinical expertise and knowledge across Swedish, improving how we document and track our LGBTQIA+ population, making sure that the space that we create internally is inclusive and safe for all of our caregivers, especially our LGBTQIA+ caregivers and helping to support our LGBTQIA + patients as they access care at Swedish and also in the Puget Sound Region.
An exciting part is now that our program is moving to be regionalized, so a lot of our existing model can be expanded to all the way from Everett down to Olympia to support the Puget Sound Region and the patients that are looking to access to gender-affirming and LGBTQIA+- informed care.
How can allies, either within our Swedish community or in the broader community, support this work and get involved and help build understanding and communication?
Ally is a really important word. Ally is a verb and requires action. You have to take action to be an ally, and I think that applies to really any ally of any community across the board. That also includes our LGBTQIA + community. Every letter represents a different community, and each community, has different privileges and power within the broader community, too. So, everyone can be called to action to help uplift the voices in our communities that are historically underrepresented and most impacted by systemic oppressions.
We here at Swedish are an example of this. Our health system in this country has traditionally been built for those who have the most privilege and access. I think anywhere we can improve healthcare and make it more accessible while working with our community is an example of allyship. This demonstrates how allies can encourage progress, especially by listening to those that are most impacted.
We need to encourage inclusivity among our caregivers by hiring and encouraging career growth of LGBTQIA+ identified individuals. This is the work also aligns with the mission, vision and values of Swedish with our dedication to serving every community. And while allyship is critical, I would also say that it's important to have a program with dedicated resources supporting this work and the people doing it because sometimes you know an ally is not the best decision maker. We have to make sure that those impacted the most are leading any change and including them is the way we move forward and improve this work and deliver healthcare.
Anything else you'd like to add as we head into Pride Month?
Swedish will continue to do this work beyond Pride Month. We’ll continue to make sure that we're engaged with our community. I think one example of how we’re doing this is with our LGBTQIA+ Patient and Family Advisory Council. We want people to join us in this work. And secondly, Swedish is still learning and growing in this space. That is our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It's a continual process and we are always looking for ways to improve.
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