Protest NY Medical College Ban of Gay/Lesbian Student Group sign now

Ralph A. O'Connell, MD
Dean and Provost
New York Medical College
Valhalla, NY 10595

Dear Dean O'Connell:

It has come to our attention that the New York Medical College recently rescinded the charter of and revoked funding for a medical student group known as the "Student Help Organization" after the students decided to change the organization's name to "Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender People in Medicine."

We understand that the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), the nation's largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) doctors and health care providers, has requested a meeting with you to discuss this issue. We are writing in support of GLMA's request.

Hopefully the rescission of the charter and the loss of normal student group privileges is the result of a misunderstanding, and these medical students will soon be able to resume legitimate organizing activities under a name that accurately reflects who they are and choose to be called.

As we understand what appeared to happen at New York Medical College, we are saddened, but not surprised, given that discrimination is still a very real part of the experience of LGBT Americans in our everyday lives. The Healthy People 2010 Companion Document on LGBT Health, commissioned by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), documents a number of health disparities experienced by LGBT persons as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many of these disparities are associated with the fear or outright discrimination LGBT persons experience when they reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity to their healthcare providers. To reinforce this destructive attitude in medical education and to model it for medical students perpetuates this fear and discrimination against LGBT people generally.

Additionally, young people are particularly vulnerable to discrimination. Discriminatory policies in an educational institution may increase stress and cause anxiety or depression that inhibits learning. The denial of access to opportunities to network professionally may jeopardize students' professional advancement.

The Standards of Accreditation of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) include the following language: "MS-31. In the admissions process and throughout medical school, there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, race, creed, or national origin." These standards are not legally binding, but we remind you that students can file complaints to the LCME that may prompt further investigation.

We hope you will meet with GLMA as soon as possible to address what appears to have happened at New York Medical College. We cannot stand by as another generation of courageous LGBT medical students are taught that they are less than full citizens or not fully welcome within the medical profession.

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Christopher CameronBy:
School and EducationIn:
Petition target:
Ralph A. O'Connell, MD, Dean and Provost, New York Medical College

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