February 5, 2016

Promoting Inclusiveness: A look at LGBT progress at Weatherhead

The following blog post is brought to you by Weatherhead's Office of Student Experience, which is here to assist students with finding opportunities for experiences outside of the classroom that will complement the holistic learning environment of Weatherhead. Learn more.

This year has been an exciting one for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) progress at Weatherhead School of Management. As some of you may know, Case Western Reserve University has a long history of pro-active outreach and support for the LGBT community within our university and beyond. Starting in 1987, Case Western Reserve recognized the Lesbian and Gay Student Union. Contentious at the time, brave students, staff and faculty worked hard to overcome prejudice and discrimination. Quickly following the formation of this student group, the university formed a Prejudice Panel to examine the treatment of  and “prejudice toward students who are black, foreign, or homosexual on our campus.” In 1988, The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approved the addition of the term "sexual orientation" into the university's nondiscrimination clause. This was a major step forward and extremely progressive at the time; however, it is common knowledge that culture can take time to catch up with policy changes.

Case Western Reserve continued to make strides toward equality, inclusiveness and justice in the following decades. Still facing a good deal of homophobia and vitriolic stances, community members organized pink triangle chalkings around the campus to raise awareness and support of what was commonly known as Lesbian and Gay Pride or Queer Pride. Voices were raised from all sides of the debate. A cataloged archive of letters to the editor can be found here. Despite sometimes fiery resistance, change continued. The Observer ran articles about a lesbian faculty member’s wedding, the university funded and opened the LGBT center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and other students of minority sexual orientation or gender expression, and Case Western Reserve began receiving awards for its many efforts. In 2006, The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students included Case Western Reserve as one of the guide's 100 best campuses for LGBT students. In 2009, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) honored Case Western Reserve University President Barbara R. Snyder and Deputy Provost Lynn Singer with its Equality Award. The university continues to maintain a high rating on the Campus Pride Index, a full report of which can be read here.

Weatherhead has joined in the continuous effort to promote inclusiveness. We recently designated two single stall, locking restrooms as “all-gender restrooms.” These restrooms can be found on the floor of the Peter B. Lewis building, demarcated by new placards that make it clear each restroom is both handicap accessible and may be used by any person in our community, regardless of gender or gender expression. These restroom designations are part of a greater effort at the university to create resources for the Transgender community. Restrooms have historically been a difficult topic for those in transition or with non-conforming gender expression. By designating rooms as “all-gender” we hope to eliminate a sense that a student, staff or faculty may not “belong” there.

In addition to these facility changes, The Office of Student Experience also sponsored a panel of business professionals from the LGBT community, including faculty and alumni, to discuss career building and other issues facing students entering the workforce. Weatherhead will also be hosting a Safe Zone training Februrary 12 from 1-4 p.m. Each program may seem small on its own, but as they come together and add up, Weatherhead hopes to achieve more visibility on our campus community.

If you or someone you know is interested in helping to develop further programming at Weatherhead, contact Alexis Hayman, director of student experience, at alh18@case.edu for more information. Similarly, those interested in campus-wide programming should certainly reach out to the LGBT center at Case Western Reserve University at LGBT@case.edu.

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