LGBTQ+ Section

Newest AMA section will seek to advance LGBTQ+ health

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

When oncologist-hematologist Shail Maingi, MD, rose to speak this month in favor of new AMA policy to protect LGBTQ+ youth in foster care from discrimination, it marked the first time any physician had spoken on the floor of the House of Delegates as the delegate of the AMA LGBTQ+ Section.

The newly established section grew out of the AMA Advisory Committee on LGBTQ Issues, which was established 20 years ago and first met in 2005.

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Joining other AMA member sections and special groups, the LGBTQ+ Section also has an alternate delegate, Brianna Sohl, MD.

The section’s inaugural chair is Jason Schneider, MD, an internist and professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine who also serves as a delegate representing GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality. On the closing day of the 2024 AMA Annual Meeting, Dr. Schneider took some time to discuss the significance of the new section.

“I’m honored to be part of this historic moment for the AMA. It's a very exciting accomplishment and having been involved with LGBTQ+ health advocacy since I was a medical student, it's heartening to see how this arc of history has bent in this very progressive direction,” he said.

“On a very practical level, becoming a section, we now have a voice in the House of Delegates. I appreciated the direct connection we had to our Board of Trustees—and we still will have that with a liaison—but having that voice in the House and having our delegate give her first testimony today was great,” said Dr. Schneider, who is gay.

More legitimacy, visibility

Those elected to the AMA Advisory Committee on LGBTQ Issues as of June 1 will continue in their roles on the new section’s governing council. And now the LGBTQ+ Section has its own representation.

“We can submit resolutions on our own that come from the section. We can engage in evaluation and endorsement of candidates for office in our AMA,” Dr. Schneider explained. “This gives the focus on LGBTQ+ health more legitimacy in our AMA, more visibility.”

Over the years, the AMA House of Delegates has adopted a wide range of policy supporting the equal rights, privileges and freedom of all individuals and opposes discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin or age. Learn more about AMA policies on LGBTQ+ issues.

The AMA’s immediate past president, Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, became the first openly gay person to serve as the American Medical Association’s president upon his inauguration last year.

Dr. Schneider said, “the most notable thing for our AMA is that it was a nonissue—that his leadership was celebrated just like any incoming or outgoing president.” Dr. Ehrenfeld’s “visibility is the most impactful, and as he is a longtime friend of mine, I appreciate the significant personal sacrifice he made to serve in the role.”

Learn more from Dr. Ehrenfeld’s final address to the House of Delegates as AMA president about why medicine’s future cannot be left to chance.

AMA members looking to learn more about the LGBTQ+ Section should subscribe to the section’s newsletter through their AMA profile. Also check out the LGBTQ+ Section’s introduction on the AMA Instagram account.

As the nation celebrates Pride Month, discover how the AMA is working diligently at the state and federal levels to expand access to medical services, reduce stigma in treating patients with unique needs and break down discriminatory barriers to necessary care for the LGBTQ+ community.

Read about the other highlights from the 2024 AMA Annual Meeting, including new policy to create equity in clinical trials and research