The AMA wants youth groups to include gays

 

World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

The AMA wants youth groups to include gays

SUMMARY: The American Medical Association (AMA) wants national youth groups to lift bans on gays in order to help prevent teen suicide.

The American Medical Association (AMA) wants national youth groups to lift bans on gays in order to help prevent teen suicide.

A resolution calling on youth groups to lift their gay bans passed with little debate or dissent at the association’s annual meeting Tuesday. Although the new policy names no specific organizations, AMA members on both sides of the discussion mentioned the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), whose controversial policy of barring gays from membership was upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The member behind the proposal, Steve DeToy of the Rhode Island Medical Society, said he wasn’t aware of any other national youth group with anti-gay membership policies. DeToy is himself a Scout troop leader.

Supporters said ending gay-exclusionary policies could help lower increased suicide risks for gay teens. Results of a Massachusetts study published in this month’s American Journal of Public Health indicate that gay high school students were four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight classmates.

Some said the impact of exclusionary policies is even wider than indicated in the proposal, the Associated Press reported. Florida family practitioner Dr. Thomas Hicks called homophobia « a health hazard, » and said lifelong scars and feelings of ostracism can result from being excluded for being gay.

The proposal required the approval of a majority of the AMA’s 547-member house of delegates in order to become policy.

Before the vote, Gregg Shields, a BSA spokesman, told the Associated Press it’s unlikely the Scouts’ volunteer board of directors would comply with the request from the AMA. Shields said the BSA respects « everyone’s opinions and beliefs and values » and asked the same in return.

Also passed was a resolution directing the organization to study bullying and making the topic a major focus of the AMA’s anti-violence campaign.