Context: The failure to collect information on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identity in healthcare and medical education is a part of a systemic problem that limits academic medical institutions’ ability to address LGBTQ health disparities.
Objectives: To determine whether accurate sexual and gender minority (SGM) demographic data is being consistently collected for all US medical schools during admissions and enrollment, and whether differences exist between collection practices at osteopathic and allopathic schools.
Methods: Secure, confidential electronic surveys were sent via email in July 2019 to 180 osteopathic (n=42) and allopathic (n=138) medical schools identified through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Student Guide to Osteopathic Medical Colleges database and the American Association of Medical Colleges Medical School Admissions Requirements database. The nine question survey remained open through October 2019 and queried for; (1) the ability of students to self report SGM status during admissions and enrollment; and (2) availability of SGM specific resources and support services for students. Chi square analysis and the test for equality of proportions were performed.
Results: Seventy five of 180 (41.7%) programs responded to the survey; 74 provided at least partial data. Of the 75 respondent schools, 55 (73.3%) allowed applicants to self report a gender identity other than male or female, with 49 (87.5%) of those being allopathic schools compared with 6 (31.6%) osteopathic schools. Similarly, 15 (20.0%) allowed applicants to report sexual orientation, with 14 (25.5%) of those being allopathic schools compared with one (5.3%) osteopathic school. Fifty four of 74 (73.0%) programs allowed matriculants to self report a gender identity other than male or female; 11 of 74 (14.7%) allowed matriculants to report sexual orientation.
Conclusions: Demographics collection practices among American medical education programs that responded to our survey indicated that they undervalued sexual orientation and gender identity, with osteopathic programs being less likely than allopathic programs to report inclusive best practices in several areas. American medical education programs, and their supervising bodies, must update their practices with respect to the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity demographics as part of a holistic effort to address SGM health disparities.