About Our Organization

Mission Statement
Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association’s mission is to connect, support and empower community for LGBT+* students and allies across veterinary education.
*LGBT + will be used as an inclusive acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer,Questioning, Asexual and others who self-identify on the sexual orientation and/or gender expression continuums.

Vision Statement
Broad Spectrum desires greater support and a sense of community for all LGBT+ students and allies throughout veterinary medical education. We actively strive to counter episodes of bigotry and marginalization with positive messages of diversity and inclusion. We have healthy, supportive and encouraging relationships with pre-veterinary, veterinary and graduate students, faculty, staff and administrators. We are known for advocating for the respect and equality of seen and unseen LGBT+ members in the academic veterinary community and beyond. We contribute to the development of safe and welcoming veterinary school environments for pre- and current veterinary students. Broad Spectrum makes veterinary schools more inclusive for all students, especially LGBT+ students. We accomplish this by starting important and courageous conversations about LGBT+ inclusion, in addition to maintaining much needed support for LGBT+ students in veterinary medicine.

Our History

We were founded in 2011 at the SAVMA Symposium hosted by UC Davis. The name 'Broad Spectrum' came out of a calculated attempt to be as inclusive as possible to any student who falls anywhere on the spectra of sexuality, sex, or gender. We welcome all students no matter their sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression. And yes, allies, this means we welcome you, too!

Our Links

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BSVSA Responds

"Support for Discrimination and Marginalization? Not Surprising."

On March 14, dvm360.com posted an article entitled “Minority students report strong support from veterinary schools, but racism and sexism remain, study says.”.  The article provided preliminary results from the Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) climate study conducted by Lisa Greenhill (Associate Executive Director for Institutional Research and Diversity at the AAVMC).  We had written about the preliminary responses here.  Some of the results included that one in five female veterinary students reported hearing sexist language at their school, and LGBT students reported they did not have a faculty or staff member to confide in at higher rates than those students who did not identify as LGBT.  In response to the article, DVM NewsMagazine published a letter from Dr. Larry Fisher of Topeka, Kansas.

In his letter, Dr. Fisher states:
Is support available for students surprising?

In the article “Minority students report strong support from veterinary schools, but racism and sexism remain, study says” from dvm360.com on March 14, it was mentioned that “while nearly 83 percent of veterinary students said there was a strong support system within their school, 35 percent said they did not have a faculty of [sic] staff member to confide in.  … The numbers are higher for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.”

Putting political correctness aside, it is an axiom that a house divided cannot stand.  Different values will always elicit different reactions.  Why are we surprised that those who have different values are looked upon differently?  The group cited has never flourished in a stable society but has always been visible in its decline.  Read history.  Now we wonder why we are declining as a culture?  Folks, fundamentals work.

--Larry Fisher, DVM
Topeka, Kan.

Students involved in Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association weighed in:

Amanda Fischer- Cornell University Class of 2014:
My initial reaction when I saw this editorial was extreme sadness.  Not because someone was expressing this viewpoint (it would be naive to think that people don’t have and express this view), but because it was published in a veterinary magazine.  I thought that this was highly inappropriate for publication in a professional magazine.  But hopefully some good can come from this in the form of an educated discussion among colleagues in our field. 

The title and the content of the editorial are an interesting contradiction.  Clearly Dr. Fisher is not surprised by a lack of mentorship and guidance for LGBT students in the veterinary community, seeing as he feels there should be none. I do agree with him on one point, that a house divided cannot stand.  Marginalizing colleagues and veterinary students is not going to further the development and future success of our profession.  I feel that his viewpoint implies  LGBT individuals in the profession are decreasing it’s value.  This is a poor attitude to take towards our profession, considering diverse and open work environments foster better collaboration and creativity.  If we are to move forward and continue to provide innovative ideas, then we all need to be more accepting of our colleagues.

I greatly appreciate the response from Dr. Gregory B Combs that was published by DVM NewsMagazine in response to Dr. Fisher’s editorial. As disheartening as that first editorial was, Dr. Combs response made me want to get up and cheer.  I hope that more members of our community agree with Dr. Combs views and welcome all veterinary students with open arms into this great profession.  I hope that students questioning the level of acceptance and inclusion in the veterinary profession can look at the LGVMA, Broad Spectrum, and responses like Dr. Combs and feel as hopeful as I do.

Nikki Wright - University of Pennsylvania Class of 2014

I am incredibly disappointed and saddened by Dr. Fisher’s letter. Although I originally questioned the magazine’s reasoning for publishing it, I have decided that I am thankful that they did, because it forces us as a professional community to confront this issue. If I could get to Kansas I would go and visit Dr. Fisher myself. Not in anger, but in a sincere effort to expose him and educate about the LGBTQ community. My heart goes out to anyone that Dr. Fisher has directly persecuted. There is no room in our society nor in our profession for such hatred. I hope that Dr. Fisher can one day discover the beauty in a life full of loving-kindness, acceptance, and personal growth through diversity.

Arturo Otamendi- Louisiana State University Class of 2014

    I agree with most of my colleagues in that I am not surprised that there are people in society, or even in the veterinary community, that think the way Dr. Fisher does. I have been raised in a part of the country where viewpoints like Dr. Fisher’s are commonplace. Originally, I was very upset that an article with this kind of bigotry would be published in a veterinary magazine that is read by very well educated people. But then I realized that if one person is saying this, then there are a multitude of others who have very similar thoughts. This is a great opportunity for organizations such as LGVMA and Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association to speak out and support LGBT rights and to teach the community what we have to offer to make this country a better place to live.
    Breaking down what Dr. Fisher stated, there are a few things I agree and disagree with. I agree with the fact that “a house divided cannot stand” However, this is the exact opposite of what members of the LGBT community are trying to do. We believe in “inclusion” of all people. This includes race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, gender identity, etc. We see ourselves as an integral part of society and we in no way ask to be treated differently or special in any way. We want the same rights and privileges that everyone else has. It is actually not surprising at all that different values elicit different responses. I know there are people out there who do not agree with the LGBT lifestyle, but a veterinary teaching school is no place for that type of thinking.
    As for the statement that the LGBT community has never flourished in a stable society, but has always been seen in its decline, I ask where can he show any evidence of truth behind that statement. Homosexuality has been present in all cultures and societies since before the Roman times, and nowhere is there any solid evidence that this was a cause for the decline in their culture. The LGBT community has proven to be a very important part of this country and plays a big impact on the economy. In the veterinary community, LGBT individuals see their pets as their children, and they want the best veterinary care they can receive for their family member. How can a veterinarian provide them all that they need, while at the same time feeling like they are not appreciated or even resented for who they are. Dr. Fisher is blind to the fact that society is changing, and if he does not change with it, he will be left behind.
    I am very thankful for people like Dr. Fisher, because it pushes me to be more proactive and vocal about LGBT issues and rights. I feel that if we as LGBT veterinarians and veterinary students reach out and educate the community, we will see a big change in the next couple years and the comfort levels of veterinary students and veterinarians will increase tremendously.

Here are some more helpful articles for debunking gay myths: