Honoring Pride Month With Action

Her Voice, Her Message. Honoring Pride Month with Action by Christa Rose.

This Pride month, it is essential for us as faculty, staff, and administrators to acknowledge the targeted assault on the rights and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ people. So far this year, state legislatures have introduced nearly 500 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills, including 19 in New England, emphasizing the urgent need for concrete action from allies.

In order to effectively support LGBTQIA+ students, educating ourselves on their experiences and challenges is crucial. Findings from the climate survey conducted by the 2022 BU Task Force on LGBTQIA+ Students revealed that nearly 80% of LGBTQIA+ students experience some degree of unwelcomeness at BU. LGBTQIA+ students also reported experiencing pervasive identity-based harassment, bias, and discrimination, a lack of cultural competence among BU community members, and systemic neglect of their concerns.

It is especially important to understand the unique challenges faced by students with intersecting marginalized identities, as they often experience non-inclusion or inequity compounded by interlocking systems of oppression. A 2023 report from UCLA Law’s Williams Institute revealed that LGBTQIA+ BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are two times more likely than white LGBTQIA+ students to report that unfair treatment at school due to being LGBTQIA+ was a barrier to their academic success. Moreover, findings from the U.S. Transgender Survey indicated that 24% of respondents who were out as or perceived as trans in college reported experiencing verbal, physical, or sexual harassment, with 16% of those students leaving college due to the harassment they endured.

“There still must be sustained, concerted efforts
made at every level
to improve BU’s culture and climate for LGBTQIA+ students.”

It is encouraging that the University’s highest leadership has recently made progress in fostering a more welcoming and supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ students. I am thrilled by President Brown & Provost Morrison’s decision to establish an LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center—which is scheduled to open at the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year—in response to the foremost recommendation of the BU Task Force on LGBTQIA+ Students. This historic decision is a significant step forward in closing the gaps in institutional support provided to LGBTQIA+ students.

However, there still must be sustained, concerted efforts made at every level to improve BU’s culture and climate for LGBTQIA+ students. It cannot be the sole responsibility of the forthcoming Center to ensure BU is inclusive and affirming of LGBTQIA+ students: all departments, offices, centers, and individuals across BU are responsible for creating the culture and climate. There must be a University-wide culture shift to support LGBTQIA+ students, which requires all of us to take action.

I invite you to reflect on the following questions:

  • Have your department administrators recognized that LGBTQIA+ rights are under attack and affirmed their commitment to supporting LGBTQIA+ students and employees?
  • Has your team received LGBTQIA+ inclusivity training tailored to your department within the past year? Further, has your team had continued discussions on LGBTQIA+ student support and inclusion beyond the basics?
  • Have your department’s policies and practices been systematically assessed through a DEIJA (diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and accessibility) framework, leading to necessary improvements?
  • Does your department offer LGBTQIA+ programming outside of Pride Month?
  • Have you personally taken action to better support your LGBTQIA+ colleagues, students, and employees?

If your answer to any of these questions is no, it’s time to get to work.

BU Pride Month Links:

BU Pride Month 2023 Official Website
Pride Month 2023 Events & Activities in Boston

BU LGBTQIA+ Resources:

LGBTQ+ Resource Guides (Mental Health, Sexual Health, & more)
BU Out List
BU LGBTQIA+ Organizations and Groups
LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty & Staff
Guide to Changing Your Name in BU’s Systems
Q’s Gender-Affirming Product Program
BU All-Gender Bathroom Locations
Gender-Affirming Healthcare (Student Health Services)
Gender-Affirming Housing (BU Housing)
Resources for LGBTQ+ Survivors
Resource for Trans and Nonbinary Employees (Human Resources)

Links Cited:

Resource: ACLU’s Mapping Attacks on LGBTQ Rights in U.S. State Legislatures
Report: Final Report of the BU Task Force on LGBTQIA+ Students
Report: Educational Experiences of LGBTQ+ People of Color
Report: The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey
Article: Boston University to Open New LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center
Article: Boston University announced a new LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center.
Article: Students made it happen

About the author: Christa (she/her/c/c’s) is a BU Women’s Guild member, BU alum, former president of the BU Queer Activist Collective (‘19-’22), & Research Fellow at BU’s Laboratory of Comparative Cognition. She graduated from CAS & GRS in 2022 with a Bachelor’s in Neurobiology & Master’s in Biology. C’s research interests include innovative, accessible, & decolonial solutions to improve mental health. Christa is also a DEI strategist & consultant, collaborating extensively with higher education administrators to enhance their institutional climate, resources, & policies to better support LGBTQ+, BIPOC, disabled, first-generation, and low-income folks. Christa’s advocacy work has garnered recognition in publications such as Bostonia, BU Today, WGBH, & Boston.com.

About Her Voice. Her Message. Expertise, diversity, philanthropy, and fellowship are woven throughout the Boston University Women’s Guild, Women of Color Circle, and the greater BU community. This series taps into the University’s professional, academic, and philanthropic network, and proudly welcomes a variety of voices, experiences, and expertise.Explore our website and learn more about membership opportunities.