| A Touro
University club tackling gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender issues has been dropped from the Vallejo
medical school's list of ap-
proved clubs, a university official and group member
The Jewish medical school revoked funding for the
Touro University Gay-Straight Alliance and is barring
the club from using the university's name. Some students
are considering organizing a walk-out Monday during
exam week to protest the decision, which a civil liberties
lawyer said may violate California law.
The gay lifestyle goes against the Jewish university's
values, said Nathan Church, vice president for student
affairs and dean of students.
"The university is very much committed to its students
and also is very much committed to its religious heritage,"
Church said. "In this particular instance, (it) creates
a particular situation where we hope the students
and community understand we care very much about these
Some of the club's 20 active members learned of the
decision late Thursday, a month after fall classes
began, and started informing others of the decision
"I was flabbergasted, shocked, physically ill," said
second-year medical student Bryan Hopping, the club's
The decision to take away the group's funding because
of sexual orientation is against the law, said Tamara
Lange, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties
Union of Northern California, in San Francisco.
"The bottom line here is that California law prohibits
discrimination based on sexual orientation in public
accommodation," Lange said.
If the students sue alleging unlawful discrimination,
the case would be novel since few legal cases have
covered California's nondiscrimination laws on sexual
orientation, she said.
Calls to religious liberty groups were not returned
Hopping, the student club coordinator, said he's
spreading the word about the university's decision
to embarrass officials. Still, he said he hopes they'll
sanction the club again.
"If they want to be known for anything, they'll be
known for discriminating against gays and lesbians,"
Hopping, 30, said.
The group, which already received about $1,200 this
school year in university funding, is a social organization
that helps new gay students feel welcome at the school,
The Jewish university, which
serves kosher food in its cafeteria, can take a stance
on issues like homosexuality, but shouldn't be intolerant
of gay students, Hopping said.
As a gay student
studying to be a doctor, Hopping said it's important
physicians learn about gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender issues. For instance, doctors need to
know how issues like HIV affect homosexual patients,
"It's inconsistent with the mission of a modern medical
school," Hopping said.
Under observant Judaism, the gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgender lifestyles are against Jewish law,
said Church, the university official. He compared
it to Christian fundamentalism.
"I love you as an individual in a religious framework,
but I can't love the lifestyle, and that contradicts
my belief system," Church said.
The club can continue to function as an informal
group, but can't receive formal sponsorship from student
government, Church said. He compared it to a softball
or soccer club that holds fund-raisers on campus but
doesn't get university dollars.
The Gay-Straight Alliance group can post information
on campus and hold activities there, but is restricted
from using or referring to the university's name,
For students who want to talk about the club's unofficial
status, Church said he plans a forum.
The university has 865 students this year, with about
200 students on clinical rotations off-campus, Church
said. Approved organizations on campus include the
TU Christian Students Club and Wilderness Medicine
Club, said Hopping of the Gay-Straight Alliance.
If students agree to a walk-out Monday during exam
week, their grades will be put at risk, Hopping said.
"I definitely feel like my status as a student at
Touro is under question," Hopping said. "And I'm totally
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