AVMA reiterates its stand on diversity and inclusion

diverse-veterinarians-turtle-300x300As the national professional association for veterinarians in the United States, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) represents and supports a diverse community of veterinarians with unique perspectives. We are committed to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the veterinary profession so we can best serve animals, the public and our members. Thus, it is always disheartening whenever potentially discriminatory legislation is  being passed or considered anywhere.

All individuals have a right to live in peace, a right to be treated with dignity, a right to equality of opportunity, and a right to education. To this end, the AVMA supports the Equality Act of 2015, which is a federal bill that amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Veterinarians are compassionate, trustworthy and highly educated people. As it states in the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, as health professionals seeking to advance animal and public health, veterinarians should strive to confront and reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination that may lead to impediments to access of quality animal and public health care for clients/patients. This also holds true for educational, training, and employment opportunities for veterinary colleagues/students and other members of the animal health care team. These forms of prejudice and discrimination include, but are not limited to, race; ethnicity; physical and mental abilities; gender; sexual orientation; gender identity;  parental status; religious beliefs; military or veteran status; political beliefs; geographic, socioeconomic, and educational background; and any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.

We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.

–Will Rogers

16 thoughts on “AVMA reiterates its stand on diversity and inclusion

  1. Well done AVMA! Thank you for making this strong and timely statement! At a time that people are working to exclude, it is heartening to know that the AVMA is behind all of its members, including me. Thank you!

    • I commend this stance. Could you reply about allowing groups to have booths at the AVMA conference that have a publicized bias against the LGBT community? As an AVMA member with a family member in this community, I am now very sensitive to such organizations, and am wondering why they are allowed to have booth space at the AVMA convention. Thanks for your comments.

      • Paige, I’ve asked Dr. Beth Sabin, our director of diversity initiatives, to contact you directly. Look for an email from an avma.org address.

  2. I have no problem with the diversity inclusion , as long as it includes freedom for religious beliefs also. Otherwise I will probably not renew my 30 year membership.

  3. When I read this statement, I felt proud to be a member of AVMA, which is not always something as a gay vererinarian I have felt.
    I’m so happy to see AVMA taking a strong and clear stance against discrimination of many forms, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The North Carolina law affects all LGBT individuals but especially targets transgender individuals, and I know of one transgender student who had planned a senior year rotation there that is thinking of cancelling that. This must be the tip of the iceberg – how many hundreds of veterinary professionals practicing in North Carolina or planning to visit or work there must feel unwelcome and in fear of losing their jobs and livelihood!
    How wonderful that AVMA has modified its Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics to include a broad-based statement on diversity, which includes gender identity. The letter above provides a link to the AVMA’s Policy on Diversity, which does NOT include language on gender identity, at least in its current form. If, as Dr. Maccabe suggested, this was also updated, then I look forward to seeing the updated version. If the link is to the current version, then I would urge AVMA to modify the Policy to include language protecting gender identity. The situation in North Carolina should awaken us all to the urgent need to support and protect transgender veterinary professionals.
    Thank you AVMA!

    • Dr. McGuill,
      Thank you for your comment. The PVME has been updated. In particular, see article IX, which I’ve pasted below. It does address gender identity.

      A veterinarian should view, evaluate, and treat all persons in any professional activity or circumstance in which they may be involved, solely as individuals on the basis of their own personal abilities, qualifications, and other relevant characteristics.
      As health professionals seeking to advance animal and public health, veterinarians should strive to confront and reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination that may lead to impediments to access of quality animal and public health care for clients/patients or lack of educational, training, and employment opportunities for veterinary colleagues/students and other members of the animal health care team. These forms of prejudice and discrimination include, but are not limited to, race; ethnicity; physical and mental abilities; gender; sexual orientation; gender identity; parental status; religious beliefs; military or veteran status; political beliefs; geographic, socioeconomic, and educational background; and any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.

      • Hi Dr. McGuill: The AVMA Policy on Diversity is currently undergoing review—all AVMA policies are reviewed at least once every 5 years by the AVMA entity with oversight of that policy and/or the responsible staff member. AVMA members can also provide comments online (see https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/default.aspx). Once review has occurred, then any recommended revisions are forwarded to the AVMA Board of Directors for potential adoption—or, alternatively, a policy can be forwarded with a recommendation for reaffirmation without changes or, if it is a policy outdated or otherwise no longer relevant, a recommendation to rescind. With the recent changes approved to the PVME, the AVMA is reviewing other policies such as the Policy on Diversity to ensure language is consistent. Thanks for reaching out to the AVMA!

  4. I agree with Robert Nix. It’s harder for vets but veterinary technicians who want to become registered in NC have to retake nationals. Ridiculous!!!

    • Yeah, the White House and many others are concerned about how occupational licensing affects worker mobility and creates shortages. Some states (about 15) along with the Federation of State Medical Boards have developed and signed an interstate reciprocity compact, including MT human medical board. I guess it is only one medicine if it does not cross state borders. So maybe working on a similar system might help those “underserved” areas especially if you do not have to wait 6 months for a small group of your competitors to decide if they will issue a license to someone from out of state, especially irksome if you have a clean record and need to find opportunities in a less crowded area.

      • Dr. Nix, your other comment was deleted by me because it was unprofessional and a personal attack on Dr. McCabe. We allow people to express their opinions on this blog post, but we do not tolerate personal attacks and uncivil behavior.

        • Kimberley,
          I guess whatever issues forth from the AAVMC. and AVMA shall not be questioned on its logical or actual basis based on what is written and has been written In the pages of the JVME , SPECIFICALLY THE Proceedings of the Ninth Vet Education Symposium published in 1987. Historical facts must be ignored and replaced with the views of the enlightened experts, even if their ideas never actually work.Just like the one party system in China. I guess the next step is to impose license revocation for not adhering to the Veterinary PC code

          • Disagreement is not the issue here, Dr. Nix. You can question statements constructively and your comments will not be deleted. But when comments are unprofessional and uncivil, they are unwelcome and will be deleted.

  5. I, too, agree with Dr. Maccabe, and have never been personally prouder of our AVMA and other veterinary associations that represent all of us, including LGBT+ people. This was not always the case. It has taken much work, negotiation, face-to-face meeting time and discussion (and recieving of some hate mail) by our leadership and many individuals to stand up for truth and acceptance, and help guide our institutions, schools and practices into the 21st century. No one should have to work or study in environments that are hostile to one’s being. There are too many other stressors in our profession and one’s personal life to deal with. Veterinarians, of all health professions, are best poised to understand the natural diversity of the animal kingdom-which includes people.

    Obviously, we are not all there yet. With recent state legislatures passing anti-LGBT+ laws, it is imperative for all of us to stand up for our LGBT+ veterinary colleagues in North Carolina and Mississippi, and elsewhere. If you are a practitioner hosting veterinary externships, perhaps indicate that you are LGBT-friendly practice. This is good for business too. A small rainbow flag at your front desk, and a broad inclusive non-discrimination policy are just two small steps that shout loudly the truth and inclusiveness of your practices.

    Yesterday, the AAVMC with Dr. Lisa Greenhill, hosted a timely session of Diversity and Inclusion on Air 007: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & the Job Search. This session includes interviews with two transgender individual leaders from North Carolina and Indiana. This podcast is now available at http://www.aavmc.org/Programs-and-Initiatives/Diversity.aspx and is on YouTube. This a great resource to review and share with your colleagues, classmates and staff. Thanks Lisa!!

    Thank you AVMA and AAVMC!

  6. I have never been more proud of my professional association. All veterinarians should CONFRONT AND REJECT all forms of discrimination. This principle was recently affirmed by the AVMA Board of Directors when they recently amended the PVME and the AVMA principles of diversity and inclusion. As a profession, we are called upon to serve society for the betterment of human and animal health. We cannot accomplish this mission if we tolerate discrimination against any group for any reason.

    Andrew T. Maccabe, DVM, MPH, JD
    Past chair, AVMA Judicial Council

  7. This is just more pure hogwash and posturing, “look at me, how nice I am” on the part of the AVMA. IT would be great if the AVMA actually stood up for something like a veterinarian’s right to work without being denied that right by petty state boards like Montana, South Carolina and North Carolina discriminating against experienced veterinarians through experience requirements that do not even apply to new graduates. This is a very basic freedom that I have been denied and has forced me and my wife, both DVMs, into other fields. We both have spotless records yet state boards are requiring more from us with our proven records than anyone with just a DVM with a new diploma. That seems like age discrimination to me also, so maybe you might take up the cause rather than fixing the many problems that just seem to fester.