A place for support

A place for support

College of Medicine forms LGBT group

By Mina Radman

Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, or LGBT, community within the College of Medicine now have a support group on campus to join.

In June, the UF College of Medicine announced the creation of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group. The group currently offers LGBT faculty, residents, medical students and their friends, families and allies a social support network through quarterly potluck meetings. In addition to the meetings, faculty members in the group will mentor residents and medical students.

“Members of the LGBT community can often feel isolated. The hope is this group will provide a forum for our LGBT community to have support to be themselves and connect with others,” said Stephanie Ryan, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics in the College of Medicine and the coordinator of the LGBT support group.

Ryan, who is openly lesbian, completed her residency training at the University of California, Davis, where there were resources and support for LGBT members. After moving back to Gainesville, where she had completed medical school in 2002, she noticed the lack of resources available within the College of Medicine and began speaking with the dean’s office about the possibility of a support group.

“The group provides a feeling of inclusion along with opportunities for networking and professional development,” Ryan said. “We are still in our infancy stage. The formation of this group was a big step in itself.”

Aside from providing social support and career advice, the group also will raise awareness about the medical needs of LGBT individuals and promote LGBT issues.

“Right now we’re developing our mission and purpose, figuring out what the group will look like and how we will fit all these needs,” Ryan said. “There will be some kind of semi-regular lecture or discussion related to LGBT issues that are brought up by students.”

In addition to the support group, Ryan is working with Joseph Fantone, M.D., the senior associate dean for educational affairs in the College of Medicine, to integrate LGBT issues and medical needs within the new medical school curriculum. These issues include how to properly refer to a member of the LGBT community, and the higher risks of suicide and homelessness among LGBT youth.

For more information about the LGBT support group or how to get involved, email Stephanie Ryan at sfryan@ufl.edu.