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UK: Medical students told to act ‘less gay’ and walk ‘straight’

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  1. It’s a shame that Dr Coales hasn’t been deleted.

  2. it seems to me, if this is the true picture of whats happening, then any annoyance or anger should be directed at the people with the bias / marking the exams, not a Dr who is telling it like it is and trying to help people it what seems like an impossible situation. Its a shame she doesnt go one step further though and publish some kind of long term recommendations to eliminate the bias at the root.

    1. GulliverUK 21 Sep 2012, 4:39pm

      Perhaps it’s a start just to point out that the board marking the exam is “administered by a right-wing conservative Royal College.”. Whilst it might be hurtful to hear someone telling us we should stay in the closet, so to speak, and hide, the fact is every one of us lives in a world where we do this routinely. As a side note on the rare occasions I go to the doctors (mostly so they don’t think I’m dead or have moved away, and remove me off their books), I see one of two doctors. One I would be be ok with telling them I’m gay, the other I wouldn’t dream of discussing it with. I suspect most of us are in the same position.

      The root cause is the institution – I can hardly rip in to someone who is pointing out that failing in it and advising good candidates how to pass.

  3. And what advice would she give to patients in order to avoid eliciting bias in his or her doctor?
    She’s a dangerous twit.
    Sack her!

    1. So, she’s not remotely dangerous. She’s trying to help by alerting students to a marking bias… that’s kind, not dangerous.

  4. Garry Cassell 21 Sep 2012, 12:30pm

    I think Dr. Coales might be the scapegoat…the markers are really the F***ing twits that should be fired…

  5. Perhaps Dr Coales should be delivering diversity awareness and equalities training to a right-wing conservative Royal College rather asking student Doctors to pretend to be straight.

    1. That There Other David 21 Sep 2012, 1:07pm

      For all we know she’s been doing exactly that for years. There’s far more to this story IMO. The Department of Health should be sending in a few inspectors to see who’s telling the truth.

  6. “Dr Coales told the Independent: “I’m not suggesting the college is racist or homophobic. …..” ……..but she is really, she’s actually saying the hospital is not passing people because they act in a gay way and particularly so for non whites – double discrimination!

    It’s the hospital that needs investigating! and her advice to students should have been to report the hospital…..both need investigating!!!!

    1. For all we know, she may well have reported the hospital. If she did, she’ll also know that an investigation into the hospital could well take years: too long to help the present student. Very likely she was simply being pragmatic with her advice to the students.

    2. Sister Mary Clarence 21 Sep 2012, 3:37pm

      I take it people have actually set foot in an NHS hospital who are posting comments on here? The NHS is teaming with gay and lesbian staff. Without them it they wouldn’t be able to open the doors. Gay and lesbian staff at in positions high and low, so I’m not sure and bias is as endemic as some here are happily to believe.

      1. Dr Coales would appear to think the bias exists, and to such an extent that she thought it worth penning some advice to those who are the victims of it.

      2. Yes but how many of them are doctors? Gay and Lesbian staff seem to be limited to “lesser” roles such as receptionist, porters, health care assistant and nurses. I haven’t met many gay doctors at all (one in fact who worked at a mental health hospital)

    3. She was not talking about a hospital, or the NHS, if you read the story. She is advising candidates for an in person practical examination by a Royal College, which is an independent, professional association of doctors with a royal charter. There is no one to investigate them. They could face a discrimination case in court, but only if a victim were to instigate one. Any such victim would be marked for life and have no professional career, so that isn’t going to happen.

  7. Seems as if she’s being punished for her implicit assertion the the RCGP uses biased assessors. They probably do, given that everyone is biased to some extent; it certainly doesn’t seem unlikely that they’d be conservatively biased generally. I don’t think interviewers’ and assessors’ biases should affect a candidates chances but they undoubtedly do. Most of us need to work so a heads-up would be gratefully received. We can’t justifiably punish her for what ought to be.

  8. That There Other David 21 Sep 2012, 1:05pm

    Hold on a second. She warns students that the exams are marked by bigots, the story goes public, and all of a sudden the bigots are making out she’s the problem?

    The RCGP should be the ones under investigation here, not the whistleblower.

  9. Could this be common in the whole NHS?

    1. Good question.

      1. Yes, and so are many other organisations despite what they may broadcast or pretend to be.

  10. Robert in S. Kensington 21 Sep 2012, 1:17pm

    An exam administererd by a right wing conservative college? Since when have politics been the domain of a place of education? Something should be done about that. I bet this moron Coales is a C4M/CI supporter. The language she uses is smacks of those ex-gay ministries. I hope they throw the book at her and the RCGP.

    1. she is supportive of LGBT people – again another sensationalist headline from pinknews.

    2. Actually she’s pro LGBT, she’s telling these students the truth so they actually get to pass and don’t face discrimination.

      And politics have ALWAYS been in the domain of education!

  11. The irony is that there is not enough openly GLBT professionals and this incidents clearly shows why.

    I sought out a gay GP and am very happy about that as I feel more comfortable. But gay GP’s can be hard to find.

    The story that hasn’t been told is just how professional inadequate many professional groups that serve our community actually are. They often get poor or no-existent training on GLBT issues related to health.

  12. And did this black doctor take her own advice and whiten up her complexion before her interviews?

    1. Cardinal Capone 21 Sep 2012, 1:50pm

      The advice given is to emphasise their local accent as a way of reducing possible bias.

    2. Sister Mary Clarence 21 Sep 2012, 2:03pm

      Was thinking the same myself, and possibly if you’re in a wheelchair, cover it with a throw over, and try to steer the conversation away from it … the weather or maybe the Olympics … but not the Paralympics obviously

    3. Are people of Korean descent ‘black’ now?

  13. Cardinal Capone 21 Sep 2012, 1:48pm

    I checked out the more extensive article in the Independent. It’s all common sense advice about presenting an image that will neutralise various types of unconscious bias so that you can be marked for your skills. People do this in interviews all the time.

    Of course examiners should be trained not to have such biases, but in the meantime people in minorities still have to get through the exam.

  14. Eradicate the Bias and bigoted Dr – not the individuals personal traits – Hateful narrow minded bitch!

  15. Paul Halsall 21 Sep 2012, 2:14pm

    I don’t seen anything wrong with this woman giving potential interviewees tips on how to avoid the inevitable biases of examiners.

    It would be better if these biases did not exist, but one person cannot be responsible for changing the world.

  16. I think her telling the world about the bias of the examination center is a good thing but the fact that they appear to be deliberately failing gay students just for that reason warrants an investigation into the examiners.

  17. if you type her name in google images there’s a picture of her with very light skin and blue-eye contacts….she tried to pass as white when she’s clearly a filipina. she was advising exactly the same thing to the student: try to pass as something you’re not, beacuse society won’t accept what you are.

    1. Doesn’t surprize me, Elena. That was what my comment was saying ironically and yet I got ‘bad comment’ marks. Naughty Rufus. Sometimes life is stranger than ironic fiction.

    2. Not so ‘clearly’, as she’s of Korean descent.

    3. Heaven forbid she has blue eyes (or prefers to have blue contacts…)

  18. Stop shooting the messanger!!!!

    1. John Peter 21 Sep 2012, 5:04pm

      Exactly. She would appear to be bringing attention to institutionalized homophobia, not agreeing with it.

  19. Pavlos Prince of Greece 21 Sep 2012, 4:05pm

    Of course, life may be much more easy, when you can look like straight men. But how is it possible? I have probe this so many times on the streets of my hometown at the island of Rhodes, but without success (especially by going and, yes, speaking). When Mrs. Coales have some ‘advice’ about it, I will be very thankful. But her secret wish in this situation is not to make life a little more easy for gay guys, but – that this group will be not very present in the public places at all. And this is the same story as about persecution of gay people in the Third Reich, just beginning from opposite end: total visibility in the form of rose triangle was a way to make invisible again.

    1. Rhodes is a small island, I was there two years ago with my partner after travelling round the Turkish coast, it really seemed very straight and family orientated, okay for a week but it must be quite restrictive living there full time I imagine.

      1. Pavlos Prince of Greece 22 Sep 2012, 12:56am

        Well, I am not the Colossus of Rhodes and must not to live here full time. Its a beautiful place (especially the view from the tower of castle, what I adore very much), but very conservative indeed. Like all Greece, unfortunate… And we still are the Republic. Tragic.

  20. what advice does she give to people of colour?

  21. I can understand where she’s coming from and it’s certainly not her that should be blamed… The markers are the ones to blame.

    I’m not a fan of campness and must admit, even though it’s classed as wrong, I’d feel uncomfortable with an overtly camp male doctor – the accent and speech are fine, but the mannerisms would put me off.

  22. If I had an anti Jewish , pro Muslim film script, and took it to a Hollywood agent :
    a) What advice do you think tat they would give me ?
    b) Woud that make the agent racist ?

  23. Inconspicuousness of differences is a result of general acceptance, not vice versa.

    Gay people have their own natural, organic personalities. Sometimes they are “straight-acting”, and sometimes they are, for whatever reason, conspicuously gay. No one should have to fake their behavior on a regular basis just to be afforded respect and courtesy.

  24. Given that Dr Coales has been for some years on the Council of the Royal College which she appears to be claiming is prejudiced, and also given the irony that her online CV declares her to be the chair of a group called Conservative Health (allied with the Tory parent), it seems odd that she is accusing others of right wing bias. And as an officer of the RCGP shouldn’t she have been exposing, and fighting against, any bias by the same organisation’s exam system, rather than making money selling books with such advice?

    1. I think the conservative party is coming to a split soon

      “the dinosaurs and capitalist Tesco worshippers” & “the liberal and small business encouragers” both of which are conservative – just a different slant on it the latter is the only electable kind.

  25. Spanner1960 22 Sep 2012, 7:29am

    “Excuse me, can you please try looking a little less black, you know how right wing the Royal College are.”

    It totally beggars belief.

    1. I’d be more inclined to believe that she’d ask the black man or woman to not follow the stereotype – for instance, if they spoke like a rapper. Would be ridiculous to assume they would, but if they did, then I can understand her saying it wouldn’t work in their favour to show this mannerism.

  26. To be honest as someone who was born intersexed and needed surgery to become female I have to hide part of who i am pretty much all the time, and NOT because people are phobic or prejudiced… Rather because even those who have sympathy simply CANT understand my reality. Even supporters have strange ideas about what i must be like when they know – and so its often easier to just gently conceal that part to avoid misunderstandings.

    So i cant see the problem- the Dr was giving practical advice. You cant always expect people to understand something outside their experience. Oh and i too am an aspiring med student.

  27. In an ideal world no one should have to hide who they are. In reality everyone has to modify their behaviour to get on.

    In my work if you’re a straight, white, beer-drinking, football obsessed male, you’re guaranteed a promotion.

  28. I disagree with people who tell other people how to behave and how to act, because I don’t believe anyone has the right to do that. But the sad truth is that this MP is right in a way; in a very right-wing conformist job area, it would be in this young man’s favour to “act straight.” It is such a shame that the world is like this. I wish that he could be himself and still succeed in his chosen career, and I hope that he can. I wish bigotry would just evaporate. This is coming from someone whose close friend cannot even come out to his family. I think it’s terrible that people are oppressed in such a way in the 21st century.

  29. I do get, what Dr Coales is trying to do, but I think her activism should be pointed towards the college administration.

    it should not be the case of us GLBT people changing our ways in favour of the more uptight people but the other way around.

    We are here to stay, and we will go through the brick wall, if necessary.

  30. It seems to me she was just telling it like it is, and trying to help the student neutralise “bias”. It’s a shame she felt that was necessary, but shouldn’t we be getting upset about the bias itself, and not someone trying to help gay students get past it?

  31. It sounds like the problem lies with the RCGP here, but what the hell.

    Anyway, a large section of the general public expects doctors to be midde class heterosexual white men – and rightly or wrongly doctors will have an easier time dealing with their patients if they can make themselves “fit the mold” on occasion. This isn’t advice which is only useful to get through a biased exam, it’s also about something which doctors may have to deal with in practice from time to time. Sad but true.

  32. “It’s claimed she suggested gay students should speak in deeper voices and alter their body language in order to increase their chances of doing well in the RCGP’s Clinical Skills Assessment.”

    Oookaaay!! Now I’m a woman AND I’m gay! So how does this work again?

    I wish people would not automatically assume gay means JUST the guys!! It doesn’t!!

    Oh and what a stupid cow!! This is someone we’re meant to trust?

    And I do believe that when you take your exam, as I have sat a few myself, you don’t actually A: fill in anything about your sexuality or B: your bloody name. As a student you have an ID: number, so it’s all irrelevant…

    I just hope this bigoted woman isn’t marking any of the papers!!

    1. The exams she was advising about are clinical exams, where the examiner observes medical students as they are carrying out clinical examinations on actors and actresses pretending to be patients.

      As well as assessing the med students’ clinical knowledge and skills, they get assessed on how they communicate.

      We know that in job interviews first impressions count so I would imagine that quite a lot is decided (unconsciously) on the appearance and non-verbal presentation of the exam candidate.

    2. Perhaps she thinks that women are lesbians? Does that make someone a “stupid cow” and “bigotted”?

  33. Sam Birmingham uk 24 Sep 2012, 6:24am

    It would appear this college needs to go and see a camp doctor to get a check up from the neck up. Stupid nim wits. I couldn’t care how camp A doctor or nurse is, if your ill and they can make you better then that’s all I’d be concerned about.

    1. It wasn’t the college it was THIS Dr Coales. The College had nothing to do with this and are now investigating her.

      1. ^clearly has not read the article or the original article in the Independent. She says that some of the examiners are biased because of their prejuidices and tells you how to act to get thru the exam with your potentially biased examiner. The college is investigating her because she WHISTLEBLEW on them they want her removed because she is a “troublemaker” who has exposed them.

  34. Well, this is just rubbish. Why is this even an issue for passing/no passing an exam? “Oh, your voice is kinda high pitched, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to fix a broken leg, sorry.” What the bloody hell?!

    1. yeap its rubbish – but sadly its the prejudices that some people have. They get a kick out of abusing their position to keep blacks, gays or anyone not “worthy” for some other reason of being in the profession out.

  35. Gay does not mean camp. I know some straight men who are camp and some gay men are very masculine. I don’t agree with the definition of “acting gay”. Like someone else said earlier, there are gay women too.

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