Lucas W. Ashley, MS


Published 5/29/2024
Lucas W. Ashley, MS

Pride Ortho Leaves Lasting Impression on Medical Student

As a gay medical student from a rural town in North Carolina, without access to an orthopaedic surgery residency program at my school, I found the opportunity to attend the AAOS 2024 Annual Meeting in San Francisco both exhilarating and intimidating. These feelings were significantly mitigated by my participation in the inaugural Pride Ortho Annual Meeting at AAOS, a groundbreaking initiative advancing LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion within orthopaedic surgery.

The attendance of Kevin J. Bozic, MD, MBA, FAAOS, then-president of AAOS, at the Pride Ortho meeting and his fervent endorsement of diversity, equity, and inclusion in orthopaedic surgery were deeply meaningful. It affirmed AAOS’ commitment to promoting LGBTQ+ representation in orthopaedics. Equally impactful was witnessing Julie Balch Samora, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAOS, FAOA; Anthony E. Johnson, MD, FAAOS; Gary Friedlaender, MD, FAAOS, FAOA, FORS; Rina Jain, MD, FAAOS; and former AAOS President Joseph Zuckerman, MD, FAAOS, receive the first Pride Ortho Ally Awards. Their recognition is a testament to the necessity of allies in our ongoing mission of inclusion and acceptance, and it represents a cultural shift in orthopaedic surgery.

The first Pride Ortho Annual Meeting at AAOS was a pivotal moment as orthopaedics continues to make strides in embracing diversity. Learning from speakers such as Schuyler Bailar about queer inclusion in sports and networking with LGBTQ+ orthopaedic surgeons provided not only education but also a sense of community and belonging that is often lacking for LGBTQ+ medical students. The acknowledgment of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in orthopaedics, alongside the celebration of our presence, reinforced my conviction in my chosen career path and affirmed that I, too, belong in this field.

The article “LGBTQ+ in Orthopaedics: Creating an Open and Inclusive Environment” from Chu et al, published in the July 1, 2022, issue of the Journal of the AAOS®, articulately illustrates historical obstacles to recruitment of orthopaedic trainees from diverse backgrounds. Finding a mentor early in medical school has become an integral aspect of this process, and residency programs’ social media presence has become a useful avenue for applicants to discern programs’ commitment to diversity and LGBTQ+ inclusion. Additionally, Pride Ortho’s newly created list of LGBTQ+-friendly residencies and fellowships is an invaluable resource for aspiring LGBTQ+ orthopaedic surgeons.

The article from Chu et al was a powerful call to action for greater visibility that has now been realized in large part through Pride Ortho’s existence. It is imperative that orthopaedic journals continue to publish research on LGBTQ+ topics, as these discussions not only contribute to the integration of LGBTQ+ individuals into the profession but also inform treatment pathways for special populations in orthopaedics, including transgender and gender-diverse people, who are often overlooked in research.

The first Pride Ortho Annual Meeting instilled in me a renewed sense of purpose. This event was not just a moment of pride for the LGBTQ+ community within orthopaedics but also a tremendous step forward in a movement toward a more inclusive field. The mentorship from this organization will undoubtedly serve as a foundational support in my career, reminding me that I am not alone in my journey as an aspiring orthopaedic surgeon.

Lucas W. Ashley, MS, is a fourth-year medical student at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. A former team member of USA Climbing, he is an aspiring orthopaedic surgeon and will be applying for the 2025 Match.


  1. Chu A, Lin JS, Moontasri NJ, et al: LGBTQ+ in orthopaedics: creating an open and inclusive environment. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2022;30(13):599-606.
  2. Weaver DJ: What’s important: applying to orthopaedic surgery as a member of the LGBTQ community. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2022;104(11):1034-5.
  3. Pride Ortho: LGBTQ+ Friendly Residencies/Fellowships. Available at: Accessed Feb. 22, 2024.
  4. Ramsey DC, Lawson MM, Stuart A, et al: Orthopaedic care of the transgender patient. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2021;103(3):274-81.