Medical School targets LGBTQ applicants

For the first time, the Yale School of Medicine is targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer applicants with its recruitment efforts.

Last month, the medical school released a LGBTQ-specific admissions brochure and plans to release this material in the official informational packets starting with next year’s entering class. Joseph Rojas MED ’11, who designed the pamphlets, said LGBTQ applicants often go to schools in major metropolitan areas rather than Ivy League institutions like Yale, and these brochures will attempt to combat this trend.

“It’s a big step for our medical school to be doing this,” Jorge Ramallo MED ’13, who heads the school’s Gay-Straight Medical Alliance, said. “It will put Yale on the map as a leader in LGBT health, just by making this simple step.”

Ramallo said that the LGBTQ community is often underrepresented as physicians — a difference he likened to disparities in racial and ethnic diversity. He said he did not notice many people in his medical school class who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community, he said. The GSMA, in conjuction with the medical school, hope to narrow this gap, he added.

The brochure includes greetings from Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Nancy R. Angoff and an invitation to LGBTQ students to participate in the many events and activities available for them at the medical school. The pamphlet also explains that the GSMA is only one part of a larger network of LGBTQ graduate and professional student groups at Yale.

Richard Silverman ’66, director of the medical school’s Office of Admissions, said that the pamphlet reflects the school’s commitment to diversity.

“The medical school is a place where students with so many backgrounds come together following the school’s mission statement to educate and inspire scholars and future leaders,” Silverman said. “We want to listen to their voices.”

Rojas, who is now a first-year pediatrics resident at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, said he believes it is important that applicants are “able to tell their stories and share who they are.” He added that he thinks people often do not believe that LGBTQ people can be doctors, lawyers and professionals after only meeting them as baristas and bartenders.

Rojas cited his personal experience out of medical school as an example of the challenges facing LGBTQ members.

“[Being part of the LGBTQ community] becomes the awkward joke … or it becomes the assumption that everyone around is straight,” Rojas said. “Overall my experience has been good, except for a few touches.”

Shane Snowdon, director of the Center for LGBT Health & Equity at the University of California at San Francisco, stressed the need for LGBTQ physicians because many LGBTQ patients are afraid of getting care or being judged. Snowdon was one of the speakers at a humanities lecture series offered by the medical school last year that grappled with issues of sexual orientation in hospital settings.

Some of these issues include disproportionately high rates for smoking, depression, alcohol use and sexually transmitted infections among the LGBTQ community, she said.

Silverman said that leaders of the GSMA and school administrators plan to continue working together through discussions to best serve the needs of the LGBTQ community on campus. He likened this challenge to the struggles of bringing coeducation to the medical school in the 1910s.

Ramallo said that he proposed including a section on the school’s application where prospective students can identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community. This proposition, he said, is set to be discussed with administrators in the future.

Meetings to address these and other LGBTQ issues are scheduled to take place in December.


  • The Anti-Yale

    *a section on the school’s application where prospective students can identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community*


    Lord God Almighty

    Blessed of New Icons


    Praise DATA, from whom all Word docs flow;

    Praise Him all algorithms here below;

    Praise Him above ye heavenly Cloud;

    Praise DATA’s digits,

    all aloud.

    [(Doxology of The Bill and Melinda Gradgrind Foundation)][1]


  • River_Tam

    Yeah, because we know only gay people can treat gay patients, just like only white doctors can treat white patients.


  • DCHeretic

    I support diversity in education and outreach to underrepresented groups. The LGBTQ community needs to be careful, however, that this does not become an affirmative action program. The gay rights movement has been built on the successful arguement that we want equal rights, not special rights. One can easily argue that affirmative action is a “special right.” There is no reason why someone who is LGBT should receive more consideration in the application process than an equally qualified heterosexual.

    Gay Alum 1995

  • Quals

    I agree with DCHeretic. I think many people (including myself) who are in favor of gay rights are going to be turned off if they start wanting special favors granted.

    In sum, we ought to have equal opportunity for all.

  • RexMottram08

    Tokens! Come get your tokens, here!

  • lakia

    Q = questioning not queer.

  • The Anti-Yale

    ” be careful, however, that this does not become an affirmative action program”


    I think gay rights folks are entitled to be just as messy and disorganized and zealous in solidifying their group identity as all the other ‘rights” groups were in solidify theirs.

    Equal opportunity inelegance for all.

  • River_Tam

    > Q = questioning not queer.

    I’ve heard it both ways (no pun intended).

  • btcl

    @ theantiyale

    I think the difference between this and other rights movements is that it’s not linked to previous lack of academic opportunity in the same way. Elite universities justify an affirmative action policy for racial minorities because they and their families may have received worse quality high school educations or are more likely to have grown up with fewer financial resources. Being LGBTQ doesn’t mean you or your parents or your grandparents were forced to go to a different high school and it stretches over economic lines – so why is it a difference that needs to be corrected in the admissions process?

  • The Anti-Yale

    Unlike most African Americans who could not ***hide*** who they were, nor women who could not ***hide*** who they were, nor most Jews (except Madeleine Albright ) who could not *hide* who they were, members of the LGBTQ constiuencies were ***EXPECTED to hide*** who they were out of shame at society’s disgust and out of the fact that the physical expression of their love was ILLEGAL UNTIL (CIRCA) 1975 IN ALL STATES OF THE UNION AS AN ABOMINATION AGAINST MAN AND GOD CALLED SODOMY.

    I don’t see that anything needs to be “corrected” as you call it. Do you?

    All’s well with the world and all of the variants of homosexuality who have lived for hundreds of years in fear and trembling at society’s cruelty and jurisprudence’s bigotry can simply be wiped off the screen of history with a damp dustrag, *n’est-ce-pas*?

    Never happened. Getovah it.

    Paul D. Keane

    M. Div. ’80

    M.A., M.Ed.

  • btcl


    it seems obvious that organizations that want to enact pro-lgbtq affirmative action are not going to discriminate AGAINST them. so while it is, of course, absolutely awful that lgbtq people were forced to hide who they were in previous times, the consequence of that is that to remedy the situation we need to STOP discriminating against people who are out at work, not make up for work place discrimination with affirmative action.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I don’t know. I just think it’s nice to be kind instead of punctiliously obsessive about legal trivialities.

  • Cromulent

    No affirmative action? Come on. The progressive goal posts never stop moving.

  • agl5008

    The point of this sort of admissions policy should not be to make the admissions process “fair,” although affirmative action policies often are created for this purpose. The point should be increase access of LGBTQ patients to the medical system. I think the more LGBTQ doctors there are, the more accepting the medical establishment will be of LGBTQ patients and the less suspicious LGBTQ patients will be of the medical establishment. This is a worthy goal. In my opinion, affirmative action in the context of medical school admissions policy has nothing to do with correcting past wrongs or improving fairness for the applicants and everything to do with improving patient access to medical care.

  • medstudentgay

    @ River_Tam
    If you were a woman and you wanted to be seen by a female gynecologist and I said, “well, no actually, a male one is just as good,” would you see any problem with that?

    Obviously, theoretically a doctor of any sex, sexual identity, ethnic background, religion, et cetera can treat a patient of any sex, sexual identity, ethnic background, religion, et cetera. But I would argue that patients have the right to exercise their personal comfort preferences in choosing a physician, especially in the extremely personal realms of sexuality and sexual health.

    Too many members of the LGBT population harbor significant distrust of the medical establishment secondary to negative experiences at the hands of that establishment. Recall that the term ‘homosexual’ originates from medical pathology, and the disorder of ‘homosexuality’ was not removed from the DSM until 1974. LGBT alienation from the medical community has been argued to be one of the primary drivers of LGBT health disparities. Having LGBT physicians is one way to address that issue. LGBT physicians who are leaders in their respective fields and who can better educate their colleagues and advocate on behalf of their community is another.

  • RexMottram08

    The DSM should NOT have been changed. The amendment was made by political forces, not science.

  • River_Tam

    > @ River_Tam If you were a woman and you wanted to be seen by a female gynecologist and I said, “well, no actually, a male one is just as good,” would you see any problem with that?

    1) I AM a woman.

    2) I actually prefer male gynecologists (this is not that uncommon, from what I hear), although I have seen female gynecologists (at DUH) when it was more convenient in terms of schedule.

    3) I accept that this preference is not rooted in any real difference in their skill-set

    4) I further acknowledge that if only women wanted to go into gynecology, there should not be an attempt to admit male students who want to be gynos simply in the interest of some arbitrary quota or notion of “balance”.

    There’s a great episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Dr. Bailey (a black woman) is forced to treat a Neo-Nazi EMT, against both of their preferences. The “point” of the episode is ostensibly to illustrate that patient’s preferences (and doctors’ preferences! but they have an oath to maintain) aren’t as important as ensuring that the patient gets the best care possible.

    You give the patient the best care possible by producing the best doctors possible, and that’s done by admitting the best students possible. Whether the student likes to have sex with men, women, neither, or both has absolutely no bearing on their ability as a doctor.

    > Too many members of the LGBT population harbor significant distrust of the medical establishment secondary to negative experiences at the hands of that establishment.

    Yes, and Fundamentalist Christians have had negative experiences at the hands of these gay, atheist doctors and demand a Christian doctor. And blacks have had negative experiences from Tuskegee and demand a Black doctor. And Jews had the Holocaust and demand Jewish doctors. And men get uncomfortable being naked in front of a woman and demand a male doctor.

    Identity politics are both reductive and destructive.

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