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Take Pride

Posted Oct 21 2008 12:51am
Every year, we at BIDMC hold an event to recognize people who have made significant contributions within the gay and lesbian community. Awardees may be individuals or organizations, employees or people external to BIDMC, or gay or straight. We look for candidates who advance the gay and lesbian agenda related to the workplace; volunteer time and effort on behalf of gay and lesbian initiatives; demonstrate leadership in advocating for gay and lesbian community; serve as a role model for gays and lesbians within the workplace; and/or make a positive impact on medical care to gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender patients.

Each year, when we announce this event, I receive a note like this from one of our doctors:

From: The Committee to Restore Sensible Values and Perspective
To: Mr. Levy

We are again disappointed and frankly disgusted to see the leader of the medical center endorsing an inherently unhealthy, risky lifestyle. We remind you that this is offensive to members of the BIDMC who hold to moral principles and traditional values. But more to the point for a healthcare institution, is the fact that homosexual behavior involves well recognized higher risks of STD's, HIV and AIDS, anal cancer, hepatitis, parasitic intestinal infections, and psychiatric disorders. Life expectancy is significantly decreased as a result of HIV/AIDS, complications from the other health problems, and suicide. This alone should make it reprehensible to the medical community, regardless of your personal feelings for putting this on the politically correct list for "inclusion and respect." This action again jeopardizes the credibility of BIDMC as a healthcare institution and dishonors a large proportion of its community who continue to hold to the conviction that homosexuality is immoral, ungodly, unnatural, and of course unhealthy. As we pointed out in our letter a year ago, while the controversial effort to normalize homosexuality has clearly consumed the political arena, the health risks of homosexual behavior are well known and incontrovertible. Although the political world seems oblivious to these serious consequences of unhealthy behaviors, a healthcare institution should not be. It is all together inappropriate for BIDMC to endorse, affirm, or encourage these behaviors.

It's time to put our mission as a healthcare institution ahead of misguided zeal for political correctness and inclusiveness. After all, inclusiveness of the wrong values and behaviors only serves to dishonor and discredit BIDMC and the larger community it represents.

Last time, I started my response in this manner --

I am grateful to you for writing to me with such a clear exposition of your views. I respect greatly the range of views held by people on these issues, and I believe that one of the things that makes our country great is that we have the ability to live peacefully together and yet have a variety of viewpoints.

Then I made it very clear that this program will continue. Yes, every now and then, the CEO gets to make a decision. This one is easy.

If you would like to make a nomination for this year's award, please send an email before May 21 to egandelm@bidmc.harvard.edu or, for those inside BIDMC, go to our portal and download a nomination form.
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