It’s not what you think. We are not discussing the Affordable Care Act or even paying for health care. This is a historical look at just one health care issue at Carolina. In the 1980s, the question for some students was not what they would pay for health care but whether or not they would receive it with equity.
In November of 1983, Brian Richmond wrote to the Daily Tar Heel to reprimand the School of Medicine for turning down the opportunity to offer a scholarship to medical students who had come out as gay or lesbian. Richmond, the acting director of the Sexuality Education & Counseling Service, condemned the decision because as a sex counselor on a college campus, he had come to realize how difficult it was for lesbians and gay men to find good doctors for a variety reasons including prejudice, misconceptions, malpractice, anti-gay laws, and fear of AIDS. Richmond believed that supporting gay men and lesbians in their pursuits to become health care providers would be a step in the right direction. In his letter, he called on the Dean of the School of Medicine, Dr. Stuart Bondurant, to work with the gay and lesbian community on his campus.
Dr. Bondurant stood by the decision not to offer a scholarship exclusively to gay and lesbian medical students, but he did acknowledge that the School of Medicine could better respond to the health care needs of gay and lesbian students. So, the idea for a Committee for Gay/Lesbian Health Concerns was born. The Committee would be composed of students, School of Medicine faculty, and Student Health Services staff. Due to scheduling conflicts in the Spring semester of 1984, however, the committee failed to meet and was put off until the following semester.
The next interaction we found between the School of Medicine and the gay and lesbian community occurred in 1985 when North Carolina’s Lesbian and Gay Health Project called upon the school to update their curriculum. The Project asked for health care issues unique to gay men and lesbians to be incorporated into study. The idea was to improve doctors’ understanding of health concerns particular to the homosexual community while dispelling common misconceptions.