During the summer of 1969, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City staged an uprising to resist harassment and persecution against LGBTQ Americans. The uprising sparked a movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ Americans and that movement continues today.
As such, LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated in the U.S. every June to honor the Stonewall riots.
The month allows us time to reflect on the history and progress of this movement, as well as the contributions made by LGBTQ+ Americans. At the University of Louisville, we have many points of pride to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community, this month and beyond.
Last year, for example, UofL was named among America’s “Best of the Best” LGBTQ-friendly universities for the sixth year, earning five out of five stars from the Campus Pride Index. UofL was recognized for attributes such as counseling and health, student life, recruitment and retention efforts and institutional commitment.
That commitment was amplified in 2007, when UofL became the first university in Kentucky to offer health insurance benefits to LGBTQ+ employees and the first school to open an office for LGBTQ+ services.
Since then, UofL has also established the country’s first endowed chair in LGBT Studies, created an LGBT studies minor and added gender identity and expression to the campus nondiscrimination policy.
Further, UofL was the first school in the South to open a themed housing community for students interested in LGBT issues and social justice, and offered the South’s first LGBT-themed study-abroad experience.
In 2013, UofL’s LGBT Center opened a satellite office on the Health Sciences Center campus and began a multi-year effort to infuse the medical school curriculum with new LGBT competencies from the Association of American Medical Colleges. This UofL curriculum initiated a national movement for LGBT medical education throughout the United States and Canada by demonstrating successful implementation of the competencies.
UofL’s LGBT Health Certificate program has since broken enrollment records and is a big step toward achieving health equity.
But our work doesn’t stop there. The institution has also led research efforts to bring Kentucky’s relatively unexplored LGBTQ history to the forefront. This work to preserve Kentucky’s LGBTQ history was recently done in association with the Fairness Campaign and received a W. Kellogg Award.
These efforts simply scratch the surface of the work UofL is doing to promote an inclusive community. We also host a Cardinal OUTlook day for prospective LGBTQ+ students, offer LGBTQ-inclusive career services, boast LGBTQ clubs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, offer a name change option for transgender employees and students, provide LGBTQ student scholarships and more.
Our work is not done. We will continue to build on our efforts as part of our strategic plan – approved in August 2019 – that strives to position UofL as a great place to learn, work and in which to invest because we celebrate diversity, foster equity and strive for inclusion.