Nursing students allege lack of accountability over student's 'transphobic' comments

Apr 30, 2021

Nursing students at UMass Dartmouth recently started a petition over what they said is a lack accountability from university officials to responsibly address homophobic and transphobic comments from a fellow student.

In a screenshot, a student at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences shared a Facebook post about the support and care of transgender children, but commented that it was “sexualizing little kids” and that any support to them “is not healthcare.” 

An April 29 update to the petition stated that the student claimed the healthcare industry’s changes to accommodate transgender people were due to the “pressure from the mainstream media.” 

The petition writer said that in another instance, when discussing a school assignment in a podcast, the student expressed irritation at being expected to ask patients about their gender identity and which pronouns they use. 

The petition quotes the student as saying, “I’m a nurse… I should only have to ask you if you’re a male or you’re a female.”

Despite the student’s claims, transgender people in the United States often struggle to access the healthcare they need. Although research on the subject is somewhat sparse, one of the largest studies to date reported that 19% of respondents reported that they had been “refused care outright because they were transgender or gender non-conforming,” and 28% had been harrassed in medical settings. 

“The National Transgender Discrimination Survey” found that 50% of respondents reported that they had had to teach their medical providers about transgender care.

“Endorsing this type of behavior is the exact reason that LGBTQ+ persons avoid seeking medical care,” the petition read. “There is no room for homophobia or transphobia in the healthcare field.”

According to the petition, the student has continued to post homophobic and transphobic comments “with no reprimand” from the university “after various attempts from multiple students to grasp the faculty's attention on this pertinent issue.”

In a statement on April 30, the Dean of the College of Nursing Kimberly Christopher said that officials condemned any discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity and sexuality. 

She added that the program takes seriously its responsibility to educate all students about the impact of individual and systemic implicit biases in healthcare.

“The College of Nursing and Health Sciences will continue to advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion within our chosen healthcare professions, amongst our student body, and within society at large,” she wrote. “It is vital to our educational mission and professional preparation efforts that civility and respect for all is shown within the classroom and in the workplace.”

The dean added that while officials do not agree with those viewpoints, that student has a right to “express views that may be unpopular and even deeply offensive.”

In a May 1 update, the petition writer noted that the students will hold a protest on campus on May 13.