TAMPA, Fla. — When Eric Lau learned that Moffitt Cancer Center had earned a designation as an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation once again, he wasn’t surprised. During his two-plus years as a Moffitt researcher, he has seen many examples of the cancer center’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.
“Patients and team members are valued and respected for their individual qualities and cultures,” said Lau, who serves on the board of Unity@Moffitt, the cancer center’s LGBTQ+ team member engagement group. “Our diversity is most definitely one of our strengths.”
The designation was awarded in the 11th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) released today. A record 626 health care facilities participated in the survey, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation proactively researched key policies at more than 900 other hospitals. Of those included in the index, 418 scored 100 percent to earn an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader designation. Moffitt is the only cancer center in Florida to make the list and has earned the designation seven times.
“Moffitt’s mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The disease doesn’t discriminate, and neither do we. The LGBTQ community is just as at risk as any other,” says B. Lee Green, Ph.D., vice president of Diversity, Public Relations and Strategic Communications at Moffitt. “The recognition as an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader is something we pride ourselves on while ensuring that all of our community members have access to the best possible care regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
That same attitude of access and nondiscrimination applies to team members at Moffitt, as well. Lau said that while there are many examples of Moffitt’s inclusion of LGBTQ+ team members, one stands out in particular. After the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 and wounded 58, Moffitt’s CEO reached out to everyone at the cancer center.
“His compassionate email, which intended to provide comfort and sympathy for the Pulse victims and anyone directly or indirectly touched by the tragedy, highlighted to me the value that both our CEO and the cancer center have for the LGBTQ+ community,” Lau said.
Moffitt’s culture allows Lau to be out at work and a spokesman for the LGBTQ+ community at Moffitt and in the Tampa Bay area. Lau, Ph.D., whose research focuses on the molecular properties of melanoma, is always happy to share his story.
“When I met my first high-ranking LGBTQ+ professor, I realized that if she had overcome adversity and succeeded, then I could too,” Lau said. “Since that day, I have made it my policy to be out at work and to openly share my story if asked. This is how I feel that I can best express my LGBTQ+ pride and effect positive change in workplace culture.”
That pride not only makes Lau’s fellow LGBTQ+ team members comfortable, but it has the same effect on patients who may or may not be as open about their sexuality or gender identity.
“I recommend Moffitt to LGBTQ+ patients without reservation,” Lau said. “And I would encourage others who are comfortable to be out as well — you never know when your being out might make a positive impact on someone who could really use it.”
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,700 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.