A panel of experts presented “Health at the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Sexuality” at the 2024 Spring Power, Privilege, and Positionality (PPP) orientation held on January 10.

More than 225 students, faculty, and staff listened to Dr. Nick Teich, the founder of Harbor Camp for Trans and Non-Binary Youth and owner of Fairwinds Consulting; and Virginia Hedrick, executive director of the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health who is an enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe of California and is of Karuk descent, speak to the centrality and importance of respectful relationships in healthcare.

"It is really important to see people for who they are and go with what they are leading with,” said Teich. “If I am not talking about gender identity, it’s not time to bring it up or ask about it."

Hendrick talked about how important it is to combat the erasure of Native Americans in health data, and how important it is to attend to the particular experiences and histories of a people in a community.

Laura Wolford, an assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, was moderator for the virtual event.

The PPP orientation, which occurs each semester, overall had 759 facilitators and participants during the 2023-2024 year. It completed the first year of the course officially being a zero-credit course for incoming students, and where faculty and staff receive badges for participation. Faculty and staff are required to attend one session each year. A new topic will begin in May.

Through the series, which began in 2018 as a suggestion from student activists, the MGH Institute implemented this program to have more intentional conversations about race and racism. In 2020, PPP was revised to build foundational knowledge (common languages: justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, power, privilege, positionality, racism, oppression, intersectionality) for all incoming IHP students and the broader IHP community. Starting in 2021, the course was revised to dive into particular intersections of race within health care over the course of one thematic year (Summer, Fall and Spring). Previous themes focused on health at the intersection of race and disability and health at the intersection of race and immigration.

Dr. Callie Watkins Liu, director of JEDI Education and Programs who administers the PPP program, said the series was expanded this past year when she worked with Claire Elling from the online pre-requisites program to develop a mini-PPP for 32 online prerequisite instructors. Watkins Liu also worked with Katie Mulcahy, the Institute’s alumni director, to launch a mini-PPP for the school’s alumni that drew 19 participants.