Gay student group disallowed at New York medical school
December 22 2004 1:00 AM ET
A student group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students at New York Medical College, a Valhalla-based private medical school affiliated with the Catholic archdiocese of New York, has been banned, it was revealed by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. At the beginning of this academic year, the group, previously called the Student Help organization, changed its name to the NYMC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Medicine. The new name is consistent with many other gay student groups associated with the American Medical Students Association, which itself has a national LGBT People in Medicine caucus. After the NYMC student group changed its name, NYMC's administration revoked the group's charter, meaning that, unlike other student groups, the group will not receive funding, may not use space on campus for its activities, and may not use the college's e-mail system.
According to GLMA, the situation is very similar to Georgetown University's high-profile and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to ban the gay and lesbian student group at Georgetown Law School in the late 1980s. In a letter dated November 4, 2004, GLMA's executive director, Joel Ginsberg, wrote to NYMC's dean, Ralph O'Connell, requesting a meeting to discuss the ban. In his letter Ginsberg wrote: "The Healthy People 2010 Companion Document on LGBT Health, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 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."
The medical school and the student senate stated that the charter rescission was based on the gay group's wanting "to promote the lifestyle of GLBT people in conflict with the standards and values of the college." The student senate noted that NYMC felt that the group's activities, particularly a proposed Coming Out Day event, "would be in conflict with the Catholic Church."