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At their Jan. 12 meeting, the LSA Student Government passed a resolution establishing a new LGBTQ+ liaison position to help LSA SG increase gender inclusivity on campus. The liaison’s responsibilities will include attending biweekly meetings with the Spectrum Center — the university’s office for LGBTQ+ advocacy and support — and debriefing these meetings to LSA SG’s Diversity Affairs Committee (DAC). The application for the liaison position, which will be sent out to LSA students in late January, will be open to applicants of all identities.

LSA junior Brandon de Martínez, a LSA SG appointed representative, is the chair of DAC and was involved in creating the position as well as getting the resolution passed. He told The Daily the main purpose of the liaison position is to promote collaboration between LSA SG and the Spectrum Center to ensure LGBTQ+ voices are being heard and addressed.

“Before I came on to the DAC Chair, there was no pre-existing direct link with the Spectrum Center, which is why the liaison is important,” de Martínez said. “I felt that there was an under-representation of LGBTQ+ voices on student government and as one of the only openly gay representatives on student government, I felt that (the liaison position) was needed.”

The creation of the LGBTQ+ liaison position comes not long after the death of Jim Toy, an LGBTQ+ activist and the first openly gay man at the University, who passed away Jan 1. Toy was also one of the key founders of the Spectrum Center — then called the Human Sexuality Office — in the 1970s. The same day the liaison position was passed, LSA SG also approved a statement acknowledging Toy’s contributions to the LGBTQ+ community. De Martínez said he hopes both the liaison position and the statement help honor Toy’s legacy.

“The statement that (LSA SG) passed … honors the legacy of Jim Toy especially because he was a queer person of color,” de Martínez said.

Besides working with the Spectrum Center, de Martínez also sought input from the Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) office. De Martínez said he wanted to make sure the position would serve as a liaison between not only LGBTQ+ students, but would also support those who identify as Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). 

“Essentially this liaison amplifies power to the LGBTQ+ voices on campus, specifically queer people of color,” de Martínez said. “As a queer person of color myself, I know that oftentimes certain spaces can be exclusive.”

Nursing freshman Kenneth Bauman said he also identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and said he was disappointed by the lack of representation of LGBTQ+ identities on LSA SG. 

“There isn’t as much representation for the LGBTQ+ community on campus and (in) student government,” Bauman said. “I think it’s quite imperative for representation for LGBTQ+ students … to have leadership positions … and feel like their communities are being represented.”

LSA sophomore McLaren Christensen is an affiliated representative in LSA SG and told The Daily he is planning on applying for the new liaison position. Christensen said being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is an important aspect of his identity and, if appointed to the position, he said he hopes to support other LGBTQ+ students within LSA and throughout the University as a whole.

“(If accepted, I would be) really honored to be able to uplift the voices of the LGBTQ+ students on campus,” Christensen said. “I’d be really excited to … be a connection between LSA Student Government, which really represents the students of LSA, and the University, or Spectrum Center.”

In addition to laying the foundation for the liaison position, de Martínez said he has also been working to draft other LSA SG resolutions in support of LGBTQ+ students. These include a resolution addressing intersectional experiences for those who identify as both LGBTQ+ and BIPOC and a resolution that would expand STI testing within the Spectrum Center. The second resolution also seeks to increase the number of POC health care providers, including POC therapists, on campus.

“I am trying to pass (more LGBTQ+ focused) resolutions on student government currently,” de Martínez said. “One of them is LGBTQ+ resources for STI testing in conjunction with Spectrum. The other one is in collaboration with queer POC voices and with MESA and the Spectrum Center.”

Daily News Reporter Rachel Mintz can be reached at mintzrac@umich.edu.