Photo by Katherine GilyardDaniel Downer, executive director of The Bros in Convo Initiative, addresses attendees during the “Covering the LGBTQ+ communities: Anti-LGBTQ+ measures, COVID-19 and reporting insights” panel.
Reporters covering LGBTQ people are encouraged to go beyond umbrella statistics, become familiar with appropriate terminology and avoid framing stories in ways that further stigmatize the community.
Those are just a few of the key takeaways from the “Covering the LGBTQ+ communities: Anti-LGBTQ+ measures, COVID-19 and reporting insights” panel at Health Journalism 2022. The presentation also focused on health care inequities and discriminatory legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The panel — moderated by Naseem Miller, senior health editor for The Journalist’s Resource — also included Brad Sears, executive director and associate dean of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, Daniel Downer, executive director of The Bros in Convo Initiative, Dallas Ducar, CEO of Transhealth Northampton, and Jen Christensen, a CNN producer and immediate past president of the National Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
Panelists urged reporters to get it right. “As health journalists, we have an opportunity to educate people in a really straightforward way,” said Christensen, “It’s exciting to think that you get a chance to talk about something a lot of your audience hasn’t heard about before.”
Usha Lee McFarling
Note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity.
How long have you been an AHCJ member? Who or what inspired you to join?
I have been an AHCJ member for about a month. I joined prior to coming to the conference. I’m thrilled to be an award winner this year, which is what introduced me to AHCJ. I was invited to the conference because of the award, but I immediately felt like I needed to join the organization.
Congratulations! What award did you win?
I won the first place award for beat reporting. I was thrilled and honestly humbled and surprised because there’s a pandemic going on. Reporting on the pandemic has been phenomenal by so many beat reporters — but I don’t cover the coronavirus. … I cover health equity. So for me to be chosen for this award was really meaningful and a sign that issues of racial and ethnic health disparities are really on everyone’s radar now.
(Click here to read McFarling’s award-winning story: “The whitest specialty”)
How far did you travel to the conference?
I’m from Los Angeles. Remarkably, I got a nonstop flight from my hometown airport of Burbank, which is right by my house. It was a really easy flight, because for me it’s like a two hour drive to LAX.
Only me and two other people were masked on my flight, and that was a little bit jarring. I haven’t taken many flights since 2019. This was my first flight since the mask mandate was lifted. I was surprised how many people were unmasked and how many people were confused. A lady behind me said, “Oh, we’re not supposed to wear our masks,” and I thought, “Oh, gosh, the messaging is so messed up on this.”