Dancing Beyond Pride Sustaining LGBTQIA+ Visibility Year-Round

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Photo courtesy by Mercedes Mehling

By Jon Humiston and Aaric Guerriero

Celebrating pride on campus is powerful, but it’s not enough. Academic leaders need to ensure visibility of their LGBTQIA+ inclusion efforts all year long. Here, we outline some ways that leadership can work to maintain awareness throughout the year.

Enact and enforce policies and practices that protect LGBTQIA+ individuals such as inclusive non-discrimination policies, chosen name, and pronoun policies.

LGBTQIA+ faculty, staff, and students should have benefits that truly meet their needs. That includes insurance that covers gender-affirming health care and providing inclusive parental leave. All employees and students should have access to identity-affirming support and resources tailored to support the LGBTQIA+ community.

Education & Training
Education is an essential and crucial piece of the puzzle. Programs that teach everyone about LGBTQIA+ topics and create space where voices and perspectives are heard, valued, and respected are vital. This might look like campus climate studies, training workshops, and guest speakers who provide insight into the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals that both inform and encourage allies and advocates.

Recruitment and Retention
Hiring and retaining openly LGBTQIA+ faculty and staff in all levels of leadership is necessary. Research shows that LGBTQIA+ youth desperately need visible role models. While faculty and staff may be committed to providing support, there must be adequate resources provided for them to truly meet the needs of this student population.

University scholarships should be established to fund LGBTQIA+ research for faculty, as well as to financially support LGBTQIA+ students.

Alumni Groups
Establishing an LGBTQIA+ alumni affinity group is a great step to help LGBTQIA+ students make connections with experts in their field and to also maintain a lasting connection with their alma mater.

This is not an exhaustive list, but creating LGBTQIA+ inclusion is more than checking a box. It goes well beyond simply celebrating Pride month or a brief display of rainbow flags. True belonging and inclusion result from continued, visible action. We challenge academic leaders to create an infrastructure that keeps pride alive after June 30!

>> Jon Humiston, EdD (they/them), Director of Noncredit and Alternative Enrollment for Innovation and Online for Central Michigan University, and Aaric Guerriero, MA (he/him), a Central Michigan University Alum