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California Med School Reinstates Gay Student Group After Protests

Article Date: 09/14/2006

By Anthony Cuestsa

After drawing fire from civil rights supporters for pulling the charter and revoking funding from a gay student group, Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine confirmed on Monday that the school's Gay-Straight Alliance has not been deactivated, affirming the university's adherence to nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

On Friday, Sept. 8, a school official indicated that Touro University's Gay-Straight Alliance's funding had been revoked and the group barred from using the university's name. In response to this decision, Vallejo City Council members Stephanie Gomes and Gary Cloutier contacted the Touro administration to protest the decision.

On Monday, Sept. 11, these officials, along with local students and leaders from AMSA and GLMA, gathered at the Vallejo waterfront to express their concern over Touro's decision to abolish its GSA.

"The matter was never discussed and the club has not been deactivated," stated Dr. Harvey Kaye, provost and CEO of Touro University, in a letter addressed to Vallejo City Council members just hours after the rally took place. "I apologize on behalf of the university that this controversy has arisen."

Students at the school formed the Touro University Gay- Straight Alliance four years ago to provide a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons and their straight allies, and represent diversity on campus and in medicine. TUGSA also strives to promote appropriate health care delivery through awareness and education.

"Revoking Touro's GSA charter would have been a blatant choice on the university administration's part to undermine LGBT persons as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity," says Aaron Centric, the vice president of the Touro Gay-Straight Alliance and president of the medical school's AMSA chapter. "We are pleased by the university's affirmation to support its Gay- Straight Alliance."

The American Medical Student Association has a long-standing history of supporting LGBT rights, and recognizes that LGBT- focused medical student groups play a critical role in supporting LGBT medical student well-being and activism. Furthermore, AMSA embraces its commitment to LGBT equality through continued support of these medical student groups with partners like the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

"We are glad Touro University has reasserted its commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality through upheld support of the Touro Gay-Straight Alliance," says AMSA President Jay Bhatt. "As the next generation of physicians, AMSA recognizes that groups like Touro's Gay-Straight Alliance are critical to eliminating the health care disparities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations."

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