County executive Andrew Spano said Wednesday that New York Medical College violated Westchester County, N.Y.'s antidiscrimination policy when it refused to sanction a gay student group. He also announced that county health commissioner Joshua Lipsman, former executive director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, had resigned his teaching positions with the college to protest the decision. "Students, whether gay or straight, should have a forum to discuss issues that affect them and that will help them improve the delivery of health care services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender patients," Spano said.
The college, which is located in Valhalla and is affiliated with the archdiocese of New York, refused permission last spring for an organization called Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender People in Medicine, which said it would advocate for better health care for gay people. Donna Moriarty, a spokeswoman for the college, said Wednesday that Dr. Ralph O'Connell, provost and dean of the college, was not available to comment on Spano's or Lipsman's actions. O'Connell said in a statement last week that approval for the gay organization was denied because "it was clear that the organization and its leader would advocate and promote activities inconsistent with the values of NYMC.... The college retains the right to set policies, practices, and procedures in a manner that preserves its rights, character, and identity as a
health sciences university in the Catholic tradition."
Student organizations recognized by the college receive funding from the school and can use its facilities. Some members of the proposed gay organization, which numbers about 15, had belonged to a college-approved group called the Student Support Group and said they simply applied to change the name. But O'Connell said the Student Support Group was not a gay group but rather for "students to support each other on issues involving relationships, raising a family in medical school, sexuality,
personal health, and stress." He said the college does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation
and its curriculum "thoroughly covers GLBT-related health issues." Spano said the county Human Rights Commission was investigating the college's decision and would report on options for further action. He said he hoped the college would reverse its decision. (AP)