Fear of Discrimination Keeps Many LGBT Med Students Silent

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Fear of Discrimination Keeps Many LGBT Med Students Silent
Fear of Discrimination Keeps Many LGBT Med Students Silent

THURSDAY, Feb. 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Fear of discrimination is a major reason why about one-third of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) medical students stay "in the closet," new research finds. The study was published online Feb. 16 in Academic Medicine.

The study included 912 LGBT respondents who answered an online survey. The survey was sent to every medical student in the United States and Canada during the 2009 to 2010 academic year. Thirty percent of those who said they were LGBT said they didn't reveal their sexual identity in medical school. The researchers also found that two-thirds of students who identified themselves as something other than male or female concealed their gender identity at medical school.

Fear of discrimination was the main reason why 40 percent of them said they kept their sexual identity secret. Other reasons cited included a lack of support from family or peers, social pressure, and the belief that it was nobody's business, the Stanford University School of Medicine researchers found. "A lot of grading in medical school is very subjective. I have met physicians who make sexist or homophobic remarks, and it makes you not want to come out. You don't want your personal identity to affect your grade," study author Matthew Mansh, a fourth-year medical student, said in a university news release.

"There is still this huge percentage of medical students who are afraid of discrimination in medical school and how it could affect the rest of their careers," study coauthor Mitchell Lunn, M.D., cofounder of the Stanford Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Medical Education Research Group, said in the news release. "We are supposed to be a field that is accepting of people and one that takes care of people regardless of differences, and yet we can't even do that for people who are part of our own community."

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