LGBT Handbook

New Chapter Handbook: Paint Your School Pink

AMSA’s Committee on Gender and Sexuality has produced “Paint Your School Pink” for student leaders that would like to start an LGBT medical student organization at their school or need advice on how to strengthen an already existing group. Drawing on previous AMSA and GLMA publications, this quick guide provides essential instruction and advice, as well as links to projects, and resources on topics ranging from Promoting Institutional and Curriculum Change to Mentorship and Strengthening Student Organizations. Still need help? Contact

“Paint Your School Pink” Summary Guide

– 10 Steps Towards Starting a Local Chapter –

“Paint Your School Pink,” breaks down the essential first steps of starting a local chapter of LGBT at your medical school. Although presented in a step-by-step fashion, it is important to consider ALL of the steps and assess potential obstacles before taking action. We know these first steps toward creating a supportive LGBT student organization are difficult. It is our hope this summary will help make your student group a successful one.

1. Find an Advisor:
a. Administrative Advisor (often found in med school administrative office)
b. Faculty Mentor (tenured or respected and str8 = bonus!)
c. IDEAL: find one advisor that fits both descriptions

2. Assemble Founding Members:
a. LGBT or Allied medical students at your school
b. Grad Students (Health Science) or Undergrad LGBT orgs at your school
c. LGBT medical students at neighboring medical schools
d. Determine temporary name for group PRIOR to creating Listserv

3. Start a CONFIDENTIAL ListservE:
a. Use school web-space if possible
b. Use GoogleGroups if school web-space unavailable
c. Make a Webpage with instructions on how to Add/Remove from Listserv

4. Name the Group:
a. Preferable to determine group’s name PRIOR to creating Listserv
b. Once group is established, review group’s name and rename if needed
c. LGBT Identified: “LGBT People in Medicine”
d. Include Allies: “LGBTPM & Allies”, “Gay Straight Alliance”
e. No Identification: Sexual Orientation in Medicine Awareness (SOMA)

5. Determine the Mission of the Group:
a. Key Phrase #1: Provide support for LGBT students
b. Key Phrase #2: Advocate for LGBT patients
c. Mission can be a combination of both! (Sample MS)
d. Include your school’s non-discrimination policy
e. Write the Mission Statement and post on your webpage

6. Affiliate with your school’s AMSA Chapter:
a. Befriend the AMSA Chapter President
b. Coordinate efforts with AMSA Chapter programming
c. Benefits: AMSA funding, audience, and man-power to run events

7. Before Announcing your Group to the Medical School:
a. Seek advice from your Advisor on the LGBT climate at your school
b. Notify the Administration that you have chartered an LGBT student org
c. Notify! DO NOT ask for permission! DO NOT be apologetic!
d. After notifying Administration, make Flyers, Posters, Emails!
e. Announce the creation of your Group, Listserve, Website, Events

8. Find Funding for your Group:
a. Plan amazing events to support and educate medical students.  Check out LGBT Local Projects in a Box for ideas!
b. Seek funding from the Administration as a Student Organization
c. Act as part of AMSA’s Committee for Gender and Sexuality
Benefits: AMSA funding and labor to help run events
d. Ask local vendors to donate food or gift certificates for lunchtime talks

9. Keep ongoing Records of your Group’s Leaders and Activities:
a. Keep an archive and records of accomplishments on your website
b. Keep all digital files on an LGBTPM diskette
c. Keep a “Big-Gay-Binder” with all paper files/flyers to pass on next year
d. Check out Grassroots page for more tools to organize events and plan for your transition to next year!

10. Have FUN and do great ADVOCACY!
a. Don’t give up! Starting a group is difficult work, but you are making a difference and it will be totally rewarding!!
b. If you need advice or help on an issue, no matter how general or specific, contact the Committee on Gender and Sexuality.