GRU Augusta celebrates LBGT Health Awareness Week


News 12 6 o'clock/Wednesday, March 27, 2013

AUGUSTA, GA. (WRDW) -- For the second year, GRU Augusta has hosted its LGBT Health Awareness Week, and Wednesday's topic was focused on the transgender community, but one current news issue could not be ignored.

Dr. Jason Scheider is the former president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. His message on Wednesday was telling future doctors how to treat transgender patients. Organizers say it's essential because health isn't prejudiced.

"We noticed there was a gap there -- in the education of the providers here, the education of the students here -- so we wanted to put something together to kind of give people an overview and let them understand what the issues are," said an organizer of Wednesday's event.

And even though the 's discussion was focused on transgender health care, organizers say that gay rights are still an issue.

"I'm a gay man, and I want one day to be able to find someone and marry them," said Justin Neisler, a second-year medical student at GRU.

Soon, Neisler may get the chance.

This week, the Supreme Court took up the debate of marriage equality, whether banning gay and lesbian marriage is unconstitutional.

Dr. Scheider says gay marriage is not just a civil rights issue, it's also a health issue.

"The Family Medical Leave Act and that federal law does not protect same-sex couples. So, if same-sex couples have access to FMLA, they can take care of their sick same-sex spouse outside of work," Dr. Scheider said.

The Supreme Court won't make its decision until late June, but Neisler is envisioning a time beyond that.

"I want the same rights that all my friends have. I want to be able to put that ring on it and see that box up on Facebook that says married," Neisler said.

Health Awareness Week is open to the public.Thursday's session will be at the Lee Auditorium at noon on the GRU campus. Members of the LGBT community can learn how to find resources for health coverage and education.


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