‘U’ will continue its commitment to support the LGBT community

To the Daily:

The November elections were marked with strong feelings and diverse and adversarial points of view. A month later, the election results continue to profoundly affect many members of our community. This is evident by the vast array of opinions expressed in the Daily over the past weeks.

With respect to Proposal 2, which bans same-sex marriage and similar unions, the University, generally, and the Division of Student Affairs, specifically, recognizes the effect this amendment has on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, faculty and staff, particularly in terms of how the community experiences the climate in the state and on campus. As we value and care for LGBT students, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the ongoing debate around these issues on LGBT community members, many of whom are hurting and troubled by having their lives subjected to such intense public scrutiny.

Discrimination, whether based on sexual orientation or other forms of prejudice, is harmful and wrong. The risk of increased discrimination — overt and indirect — in the coming months is unsettling to many of us on campus. As an institution, we are working against discrimination in all its forms, as it is injurious not only to individuals, but to the community as a whole. We understand that discrimination continues to exist, and we will continue to stand behind all members of our community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In 1971, the University became the first major university in the nation to offer dedicated resources and support services to lesbian and gay students. The University’s advocacy has subsequently grown in several ways, developing in part into what is now the Office of LGBT Affairs, directed by Frederic MacDonald-Dennis. For over three decades, the University has stood with lesbian and gay students, faculty and staff. In 1984, the University offered a call to the campus community to join in preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and formally prohibited such discrimination in 1993. We offered health benefits for same-sex domestic partners in 1995 and continue to defend our right to offer such benefits. As early as 1997, we began working to address issues affecting transgender members of our community.

As an institution and as a student affairs division, we stand ready, providing advocacy, education and support services, not only for LGBT students, but also for all members of our diverse community. We ask the entire campus community to join together in support and understanding of, and in solidarity with and compassion towards one another, including our LGBT community members.

Students seeking safe space to discuss these issues may contact any unit or office within the Division of Student Affairs, especially the Dean of Students Office and Office of LGBT Affairs, or contact me directly at harperer@umich.edu.

E. Royster Harper

Vice President for Student Affairs

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