Profession

N.Y. medical school gains notoriety over gay group

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 7, 2005

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New York Medical College is attracting national attention for withdrawing its support of a gay students' group.

The situation began in the fall, according to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Assn. That's when the organization, previously called the Student Support Club, changed its name to the NYMC Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender People in Medicine. After the name change, the school revoked the student group's charter. Without the charter, NYMC no longer gives the student association money, and the school won't let it use campus space or the college e-mail system.

Ralph A. O'Connell, MD, provost and NYMC dean, said in a statement that as a school under a Catholic charter, it would not support an organization whose objectives were inconsistent with the school's institutional values. He also refuted the students' claim that the club had previously been a gay support group.

Dr. O'Connell said that the Student Support Club existed to provide a forum for students to support each other on issues involving relationships, raising a family in medical school, sexuality, personal health and stress.

The incident gained wider attention when a Westchester County Health Commissioner quit his NYMC faculty appointment over the incident, according to newspaper reports. It then gained national attention when a White Plains, N.Y., newspaper story indicated that the American Medical Association defended the school's decision to revoke the group's charter.

However, the AMA in a statement said, "The AMA does not support banning a gay and lesbian medical student group at New York Medical College. The AMA encourages all medical schools to give great consideration to the benefits that arise from diversity, and help raise awareness among our physicians-in-training about the unique needs of their future gay and lesbian patients."

In June 2004, the AMA House of Delegates adopted a resolution to create a gay and lesbian advisory committee for the board, which is expected to up and running this spring.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/03/07/prbf0307.htm.

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