Does Cultural Competence include gender identity and sexual orientation?



Attitudes toward sexuality in general and toward sexual identity or orientation are culturally defined. Gender identity and sexual orientation can be categorized as cross-cutting cultural issues that are important in defining the cultural orientations of many. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the word “culture” is sometimes applied to groups formed on the basis of age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, recovery status, common interest, or proximity. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion (HHS 2011a). Cultural competence involves valuing diversity, conducting self-assessments, avoiding stereotypes, managing the dynamics of difference, acquiring and institutionalizing cultural knowledge, and adapting to diversity and cultural contexts in communities (CMS).


Eleisha Wilkes, RN, GERO-BC, RAC-CT, DNS-CT
Clinical Consultant

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