Pink triangle.svg Touro University Gay-Straight Alliance (TUGSA) is a group of LGTB & Allied medical students, staff, and faculty at Touro University, a Jewish-sponsored university in California founded by Dr. Bernard Lander. The group was formally recognized by the Student Government of Touro on September 4, 2002 and has been a University sanctioned club since that time, with the exception of 4 days in September of 2006.

Mission statement[edit | edit source]

  • TUGSA's stated mission is to promote equitable health care delivery through awareness and education. The group was founded to represent diversity both on the Touro University campus and in medicine. The existence of TUGSA is supported by Touro University’s non-discrimination policy, which lists sexual orientation as a protected status.
  • TUGSA’s mission is directed towards future doctors. The organization claims that it is vital for medical students to be exposed to the realities LGBT persons face in seeking health care.

Controversy[edit | edit source]

In September 2006, the charter of the Touro University Gay-Straight Alliance was revoked by the administration of Touro University. After 5 years of funding and recognition, the group was told their budget would be de-funded. TUGSA was denied the use of any school funds or facilities to hold meetings on the campus of the medical college. TUGSA was forbidden from announcing meetings on school grounds or over the school's computer system. The school cited "inconsistences between the group's mission and Jewish law."

File:Touro student protest 2.jpg

Touro student demonstration. 11 Sept 2006

  • On Sept 11, 2006, students, faculty and staff of Touro University protested the revokation of the TUGSA charter. They were joined by representatives from the American Medical Student Association, the Gay Lesbian Medical Association and two members of the Vallejo City Council.
  • In a letter written to Touro University dated Sept 11, 2006, Stephanie Gomes and Gary Cloutier of the Vallejo City Council stated "The fact that Touro has elected to deny the gay student group recognition under a publicly stated rationale that is transparently discriminatory and based on a tired cliché will make supporting future Touro initiatives highly problematic."
  • After 4 days of protest, Touro University provost Harvey Kaye stated that the LGTB student group's charter had not been revoked. In a letter to the Vallejo City Council dated Sept 11, 2006, he stated, "In my capacity as provost, I apologize on behalf of the university that this controversy has arisen, and trust that my letter will lay this matter to rest."
  • In May 2008, Michael Harter, PhD, senior provost and CEO for Touro University said the executive team at the university never took any action to rescind funding for the gay-straight alliance and was not in agreement with the comments made by the university administrator at the student government meeting.
It’s clear to me that the administration had not taken a position on the matter and, when they were eventually confronted with the issue, they did not take any action against the student group.[2]

This is the second major incidence of a Gay-Lesbian-Transgender student group being banned from a US med school. The first occurred at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY in the Fall of 2004. The situation garnered national media attention in the US. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and the American Medical Student Association spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness of the issue. NYMC came under an immense pressure from the Westchester County government, as well as other academic institutions with which it had affiliations, including Pace University Law School.[3] The Student Government association of NYMC, the faculty Senate, and the American Medical Students Association all also passed resolutions in support of the Gay and Lesbian student group. After a year of focused pressure, the school restored funding to the group.

References[edit | edit source]

  • American Medical Student Association Focus Online. October 2006. [1]
  • Denina, Chris. "Gay Club Loses Touro OK." Vallejo Times-Herald 9 Sept. 2006: A1 [2]
  • Buchanan, Wyatt. "Gay rights group's charter is revoked." San Francisco Chronicle 12 Sept 2006: B5. [3]
  • American Medical Student Association. 11 Sept. 2006: "Medical Students at TU to protest Abolition of Gay-Straight Alliance Group" [4]
  • Gay Lesbian Medical Association. 09 Sept. 2006: "GLMA Decries Decision by Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine to Ban Gay Straight Alliance Student Group." [5]
  • Cuestsa, Anthony. "California Med School Reinstates Gay Student Group After Protests." 247Gay.com. 14 Sept. 2006. [6]
  • Denina, Chris. "Touro's provost says gay group wasn't dropped." Vallejo Times-Herald 12 Sept 2006: A1. [7]
  • Buchanan, Wyatt. "Gay rights group not banned, school says." San Francisco Chronicle. 13 Sept 2006: B4. [8]
  • American Medical Student Association. 13 Sept 2006: "Nation's Medical Students Applaud California Osteopathic Medical School's Affirmation of Gay-Straight Alliance." [9]
  1. SF City Ordinance 061278 http://www.sfgov.org/site/bdsupvrs_page.asp?id=45970
  2. Johnson, Brooke (May 2008). "Out but not loud. Even as acceptance grows, gay DOs, students remain wary". The DO magazine: 36–41. American Osteopathic Association. 
  3. Newman, Andy. County Panel Says School Is Exempt From Bias Law. New York Times. 31 March 2005.

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