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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Campus

UH named one of the South’s most LGBT-friendly campuses


UH received recognition from The Advocate for being one of seven “brave campuses” and a leader in “grassroots organization and activism” concerning its LGBT community.

“Last school year we had over 400 unique visitors to the Center and a total of over 2,500 visits. Most students say they feel a sense of community here and that it is a safe space where they feel like they can be themselves.”

Lorraine SchroederLGBT Research Center Director

According to The Advocate, UH has also “made significant strides on transgender concerns, adding ‘gender identity/expression’ to its nondiscrimination statement and having a gender-inclusive restroom policy that allows students and faculty to use the restroom of their choice.”

Following the passage of the Josephine Tittsworth Act by the Student Government Association, the LGBT Resource Center has seen even more awareness of their work and dedication to accepting of all students on campus.

“Last school year we had over 400 unique visitors to the Center and a total of over 2,500 visits,” Research Center Director Lorraine Schroeder said. “Most students say they feel a sense of community here and that it is a safe space where they feel like they can be themselves.”

While most colleges and universities may see the inclusion of LGBT students as fattening up their bottom line, the passage of the Tittsworth Act offers a different perspective. The bill was created to raise awareness as well as address the safety of transgendered students. It also allowed those students to use proper identification such as name, title and gender in regards to official University documents.

The business aspect of the inclusion of these students isn’t lost on current enrollment statistics. During research of student enrollment in a five-year period beginning in 2009, the University saw a peak year in 2012 with 40,747 students on campus at the beginning of the fall semester. That number dwindled some to 39,540 in the fall of 2013. What was not reported in the diversity and gender trend report was the sexuality of students.

“It comes down to the bottom line,” said University of Massachusetts, Amherst Stonewall Center Director Genny Beemyn to The Hechinger Report about seeing LGBT students as a boom market for recruiters. “It’s a competitive advantage. If you want to attract the best and brightest students, you don’t want competitors to get a leg up.”

The highlight of the LGBT Research Center in their mission statement is to create “an environment of LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion for the entire campus community.” The more emphasis geared towards bringing more students on campus raises national awareness even further, despite backlash.

“Things are changing each year as young people are more exposed to diversity and realize that different is not the same as bad or wrong,” Schroeder said.

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