Risks and Rewards in Sexual and Gender Minority Teaching and Learning in a South African Health Sciences Medical Curriculum

  • Chivaugn Gordon Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Veronica Mitchell University of Cape Town
Keywords: homophobia, sexual and gender minority health, LGBTI health, health discrimination, vulnerability, health professions education, medical undergraduate curriculum


The wellbeing of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) is undermined by widespread homophobia that extends to health systems, and is exacerbated by medical curricula underrepresenting the health needs of this key population group. In 2012, under the auspices of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, a student-inspired curriculum intervention led to the introduction of interactive participatory workshops centred on the health needs of SGM. This paper describes the experiences of two of the workshop facilitators who embraced the risk of introducing an unchartered topic in a student-centred manner, which frequently led to unpredictable events that were challenging. Here, the authors reflect on their own vulnerabilities, which are considered alongside the value of moving through risk to transform present curricular practices and student attitudes, especially in a country like South Africa where prejudice against SGM patients by healthcare providers is well-documented.

Author Biography

Chivaugn Gordon, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Senior lecturer Head of Undergraduate Obstetrics & Gynaecology Education Clinician and medical educationist