June is Gay Pride Month, and this year there is much to celebrate. Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan (PPMSM) has long been an ally to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Our new health center in Ferndale not only continues in our tradition of offering excellent care to women, but it also marks an unprecedented opportunity for us to offer compassionate, respectful sexual health care to an often-marginalized LGBT community.
We applaud President Obama and the NAACP for speaking out in support of marriage equality last month. But Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan has long been a force in the quest for LGBT rights in Michigan, including supporting housing equity in Flint, pushing for a non-discrimination ordinance in Traverse City, participating in World AIDS Day and Gay Pride events statewide, co-sponsoring the LGBT-inclusive Peace Prom in Battle Creek, and offering education programs on sexual health and sexual orientation.
Some may ask why an organization called “Planned Parenthood” would be concerned about LGBT rights. But Planned Parenthood is about more than birth control and pregnancy prevention. It’s about sexual health. We believe that everyone should have access to quality reproductive health care regardless of their sexual expression or perceived sexual orientation.
We also know that the marginalization of LGBT community puts many at risk for STDs, HIV, and deadly cancers. With 17 health centers from Benton Harbor to Detroit, PPMSM is here to provide the preventive health care services everyone needs without judgment. We hope that the LGBT community will feel increasingly welcome to take advantage of the key services that we offer, such as cancer screenings, the testing and treatment of STDs, and HIV testing and counseling – not just during Gay Pride Month, but all year round.