Efforts spearheaded by Dr. Rosa Chaviano-Moran, Associate Dean for Admissions, and Dr. Herminio Perez, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Diversity & Inclusion, have focused on creating a safe space for LGBTQ students and educating nationwide audiences within organized dentistry.
RSDM was among seven honorees to receive a Gies award, which is named after dental education pioneer William J. Gies, Ph.D. It honors individuals and organizations that exemplify the highest standards in oral health and dental education, research and leadership.
“The 2022 Gies Awardees are contributing solutions to a variety of challenges in dental education and oral health, from serving marginalized communities to supporting advanced disciplines,” said Marsha Pyle, D.D.S., M.Ed., President of the ADEAGies Foundation and ADEA Senior Scholar in Residence. “They are advancing dental education and elevating the dental professions.”
The award recognizes RSDM’s efforts to create a schoolwide climate where LGBTQ community members can feel a sense of security and belonging. It’s work that began a decade ago, when many dental schools weren’t acknowledging the needs of the LBGTQ community.
In 2010, one of the first groups for LGBTQ dental school students and allies, the Dental Association for Equality, was formed at RSDM and founded by student Christopher Disla. Since, Dr. Chaviano-Moran, who was the advisor, has worked with RSDM leaders to incorporate LGBTQ awareness into admissions and recruitment efforts.
RSDM has also developed a curriculum that incorporates in-depth lessons on health equity and care for LGBTQ patients and shared its knowledge nationally.
In recent years, Drs. Chaviano-Moran and Perez have collaborated with organizations like the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Dental Association (ADA), to guide presentations such as ADEA’s “Out and Safe” and the ADA’s “Amplifying Voices.” Both programs shared a plethora of information on the many different facets of LGBTQ identity and obstacles that still face the community, despite progress in recent decades.
“RSDM leaders incorporated the stories and voices of openly gay students, faculty, patients and allies—including their own. They have harnessed the power of being visible,’’ said Dean Feldman. “For a population that for centuries has felt forced to hide part of their identity to avoid hatred and ostracization, this has been a vital means of achieving freedom and equity.”
She added, “While acknowledging how the field of dentistry has lagged in meeting LGBTQ needs, leaders at RSDM have offered practical and constructive advice on fostering an environment of inclusion.’’