Fact Check: Medical Students At Harvard Are NOT Being Taught That Infants Can Identify As LGBTQIA+

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Medical Students At Harvard Are NOT Being Taught That Infants Can Identify As LGBTQIA+ Distortion

Are students at Harvard Medical School being taught that infants can identify as LGBTQIA+? No, that's not true: The claim distorts the content of a class that helps train students in how to care for infants with physical variations in sex development. The course does not discuss gender identity or sexual orientation in the context of infants, according to school representatives.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by the Daily Mail on January 10, 2023. Titled "Harvard Medical School offers course about healthcare for LGBTQIA+ 'infants' with curriculum offering lessons in areas including OBGYN, pediatrics and plastic surgery," the article opened:

Medical students at Harvard are being taught how to care for infant patients who identify as LGBTQIA+, according to a publicly available course description.

Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Harvard offers course about healthcare for LGBTQIA+ 'infants'

Medical students at Harvard are being taught how to care for infant patients who identify as LGBTQIA+, according to a publicly available course description.

The Daily Mail's claim distorts the content of "Caring for Patients with Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities, and Sex Development," a real class at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Its course description, which can be seen here, reads, in part:

Clinical exposure and education will focus on serving gender and sexual minority people across the lifespan, from infants to older adults.

The description does not say that the class teaches students about gender identity or sexual orientation in the context of infants. Rather, infant care, in this context, refers to physical variations in sex development, according to HMS. Students learn about the physical development of intersex infants, but are not taught that infants can identify as LGBTQIA+.

In response to reports, HMS released a statement on January 11, 2023, responding to claims about the controversial class. The statement reads:

Recent reports referencing one of our medical education courses have neglected to mention that some infants are born with variations in sex development. HMS is sharing the statement below to clarify and correct these misunderstandings and inaccuracies related to training students to care for infants who have variations in sex development.

It continued:

As part of our MD curriculum, HMS offers a four-week elective course that educates and trains medical students to provide high-quality, culturally responsive care for patients with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and sex development across the age spectrum.

In this context, care for infants refers specifically to physical variations in sex development that arise in utero and are present at birth. These include chromosomal, gonadal, and anatomical variations, all of which are relevant to medical care and treatment to ensure healthy development.

Lead Stories reached out to HMS directly to ask about the claim. In an email, dated January 18, 2023, a spokesperson further explained:

The portion of the class dedicated to infants does not discuss sexual orientation or gender identity. It focuses strictly on variations in sex development -- chromosomal, gonadal and anatomic -- that arise in utero and pertain to physical characteristics. The section also includes best practices for supporting parents and families whose young child has variations in sex development, grounded in research evidence as well as principles of medical ethics, including the importance of doing no harm.

Lead Stories contacted the two professors listed as directors for the class. We will update this story, as appropriate, if we receive responses.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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