Updated 5:55 p.m.
The iconic theatre-in-the-round at 14th and H streets in Sacramento will soon be renamed the “Dignity Health Theatre.” But some patrons are criticizing Broadway Sacramento for accepting donations from the health system, which is currently facing a lawsuit from a transgender patient who says he was unfairly denied care.
The announcement of the new partnership earlier this week spurred more than a hundred comments on social media accusing Broadway Sacramento, the production company behind the summer Music Circus series, of failing to stand by LGBT artists and audience members. Many theatregoers announced they would not be attending productions at the Dignity Health-sponsored space.
Dignity operates several Catholic hospitals in the region and has a policy of not providing certain health services, including abortion and in-vitro fertilization. In the past the health system has come under fire for not performing tubal ligation, a contraceptive procedure.
In 2016, Fair Oaks resident Evan Minton was scheduled for a hysterectomy — a major step in his gender transition — at Dignity’s Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael. But the day before the surgery, hospital staff told him they couldn’t perform the procedure and suggested he have it done at another hospital. Several months later he filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit against the health system with help from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Much of the outcry against Broadway Sacramento centered on this case. Minton said he was heartened to see the community rally against the health system.
“It’s such an ill-fitting partnership, such a devastating partnership,” he said of Broadway Sacramento’s name change. “There is so much anguish at the fact that a perpetrator of mass harm against the LGBTQ community is entering the arts, which is typically a safe haven.”
Broadway Sacramento declined a request for an interview, but said in a statement that Minton’s case “did not present itself in the due diligence performed in evaluating Dignity Health’s naming rights offer.”
The company also wrote on social media that accepting the financial support was “not to be viewed as an endorsement of our supporters’ beliefs.” Neither Broadway Sacramento or Dignity Health would provide the dollar amount for the naming rights contribution.
Dignity Health also declined a request for an interview, but said in a statement that they have “a legacy of providing care to all people regardless of their background, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Regarding Minton’s case, the system provided an additional statement:
“We are sensitive to the specific health needs of transgender patients and specialty care for trans individuals is offered at many of our care sites. In this case, Mr. Minton was able to quickly receive the sought-after procedure at another nearby Dignity Health hospital that is not Catholic-affiliated.”
Minton, a theatregoer himself, said he’s hopeful that Broadway Sacramento will reconsider the partnership.
“Transgender people and our allies, we don’t go where we aren’t welcome,” he said. “And if we aren’t welcome in Dignity Health hospitals, we certainly won’t go into a building that has their name on it anywhere else.”
This September a District Court of Appeal in San Francisco gave Minton’s lawsuit against Dignity Health the green light. He’s been in a legal battle with the health system since last spring.
This story was updated to reflect additional comment from Dignity Health.
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