FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nome, Alaska – Norton Sound Health Corporation honors and respects its patients, community members, and employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification or expression. Approximately 5-10% of the general population is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In the Norton Sound/Bering Strait region of nearly 10,000 people, that percentage translates to 500-1,000 people.
NSHC believes in modeling acceptance and inclusion in all of its environments. NSHC offers the following guidance to its employees, patients, and community members:
- Do not assume someone’s identity: If you are unsure, you can ask privately.
- Do not pressure others to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity: It can be inconsiderate and sometimes harmful to “out” someone unless they mention or make reference to their orientation or identity.
- Speak up against homophobia, transphobia, and sexism: This can be as simple as acknowledging someone who has been harmed by derogatory comments with remarks like “I’m sorry that happened,” or “That wasn’t funny.” If comments are persistent, you can make a report to Human Resources if you are an employee or file a concern with the Ethicspoint Hotline at nortonsoundhealth.org.
- Educate yourself and others: Get to know the issues that impact the LGBT community and help others understand why they are important.
- Make your support known: Help coworkers, patients and visitors feel safe about being themselves.
The people and history of this region have honored LGBT people through story telling. Here is an excerpt from one such story, “The Strange Man and his Whale” (https://library.alaska.gov/hist/hist_docs/docs/anlm/16114164.pdf):
“For us, in the Eskimos’ belief, there is another sex between man and woman. In other places, they might be referred to as people with dual sex characteristics. But Eskimos here in this area of Siberia and St. Lawrence Island have great consideration for this kind of person because he can’t help his nature. We look at this mostly in the way a person dresses and not in the way he acts. When a man with a mustache is dressed like a woman, we are careful not to make fun of him as instructed by our elders. The elders would say that such people were protected by the Maker of All. So to laugh at him would bring a curse to the thoughtless ones. So when we see a man dress like a woman he is showing respect to his nature and we are not to laugh at him or hurt his feelings.”
NSHC values its employees, patients and community members and strives to make all feel welcome.