Thanks to generous funding from the Maine Cancer Foundation and Maine Health Access Foundation, OUT Maine is developing online training modules to make Maine health care services accessible, equitable, and inclusive for LGBTQ+* youth.

“We are developing accessible online training modules that use OUT Maine’s best practices and professional training to focus on enhancing health systems’ inclusivity for LGBTQ+ youth in Maine,” says OUT Maine’s Executive Director, Sue Campbell. “These modules will be tailored for pediatricians, family physicians, pediatric oncology providers, and child healthcare professionals dealing with cancer prevention.”

Why have healthcare training specific to caring for LGBTQ+ youth?

There are significant health disparities that LGBTQ+ youth in Maine face. In particular, there is a lack of identity-affirming healthcare that their cis-gendered* and heterosexual peers can count on.

Data from the 2023 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS), the American Cancer Research Institute (ACIR), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) illustrate these alarming health disparities. LGBTQ+ youth in Maine face higher rates of minority stress, discrimination, and specific health issues such as elevated tobacco usage and steroid misuse. Notably, steroid use without medical guidance increases cancer risk, while tobacco use remains a leading cause of preventable deaths and cancer worldwide. Additionally, statistics from the Center for American Progress Survey in 2020 reveal that a significant percentage of LGBTQ+ Americans, especially transgender individuals, delay or avoid medical treatment due to discrimination. Distressingly, a substantial portion of transgender individuals must educate their healthcare providers about transgender-specific care needs, hindering access to appropriate treatment.

Transgender youth in particular, lack access to knowledgeable healthcare providers, discouraging them from seeking medical care, which has significant consequences for their health and well-being.

Findings from the US Transgender Survey in 2015 emphasize the prevalence of negative experiences within healthcare settings among transgender individuals in Maine. Reports of refusal of treatment, verbal harassment, and even physical or sexual assault contribute to a hostile environment that deters these individuals from seeking crucial medical care, including cancer screenings.

During the pandemic, OUT Maine convened the Transgender Youth Health Action Team (THAT) to understand better the challenges faced by trans young adults in the Maine healthcare system. Personal stories shared by THAT members emphasized the need for equitable, inclusive, and gender-affirming healthcare practices. Their recommendations for action were informed by personal experience, underscoring the urgency of reforming healthcare systems.

OUT Maine chose to focus on online modules because they are more accessible for busy healthcare professionals who struggle to find time for live training sessions.

*LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning. Allies are folks who do not identify as LGBTQ+ but have camaraderie with the LGBTQ+ community. Cis or cisgender means a person’s gender identity and sex-assigned-at-birth match. If gender identity and sex-assigned-at-birth do not match, a person may identify as transgender. For more definitions of LGBTQ+ terminology, visit

OUT Maine has an ambitious goal: to create more welcoming and affirming communities for Maine’s diverse queer youth in all their intersectional identities by changing the very systems that serve them. For more information, please visit