Introducing the Columbia University LGBTQ+ Guide
January 13, 2021
Dear School of the Arts Community:
I am happy to share the first edition of The Columbia University LGBTQ+ Guide: Resources to Foster an Affirming Community for LGBTQ+ Faculty, Students and Staff. A community-wide message was sent earlier today providing background on the origin of the guide and a new companion website, LGBTQ+ at Columbia. Among other information on the website you will find campus, legal, and workplace resources, as well as recommended readings. I have also included today's email from Dennis Mitchell, Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, below.
Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts
We are very excited to share the first edition of The Columbia University LGBTQ+ Guide: Resources to Foster an Affirming Community for LGBTQ+ Faculty, Students and Staff. The task of compiling this guide was undertaken with much care over the past year, and our work was informed by individual interviews with faculty and staff as well as graduate and undergraduate student focus groups. We hope to honor the activism and scholarship of LGBTQ+ Columbians and their contribution to the intellectual and social fabric of our community, as well as to increase visibility, raise awareness of existing challenges, and issue a call to action to improve our campus climate for our LGBTQ+ colleagues.
In speaking with faculty, students, and staff, we heard stories of resilience, of determination, and of activism. We also heard accounts of frustration: in defending the legitimacy of one’s scholarship, in microaggressions in classroom discussions, in confusing bureaucratic processes that misgender or misname, in policies with inflexible definitions of family, and in obtaining LGBTQ+ affirming healthcare. In response to the expressed need for easily accessible information, we created an online repository of LGBTQ+ resources, which includes listings of campus offices, organizations, and policies, and LGBTQ+ Zoom backgrounds. The site will be updated throughout the semester with feedback from the community.
A Call to Action:
We urge everyone at Columbia, regardless of role, career stage, or identity, to read this guide and ask the question: How can I be a better LGBTQ+ ally? Departments and schools should distribute this guide to all faculty, incorporate it into onboarding and ongoing training, and use the checklist for specific actions for University leaders. The checklist concludes with a list of recommended actions for all students, staff, and faculty to demonstrate their support. Through a coordinated, sustained effort, we can foster a more inclusive campus climate for LGBTQ+ members of our community, and by extension, for all who work and study at Columbia.
Finally, as this is a living document, we welcome your feedback. Please email us at [email protected] with any suggestions, and visit our companion website for updates at www.provost.columbia.edu/content/lgbtq-resources.
I would like to acknowledge all who contributed to this guide, and in particular, Advisory Council member Walter Bockting, whose steadfast leadership was vital. In this work, we continually endeavor to improve our campus climate and move toward greater equity and justice.
Dennis A. Mitchell, DDS, MPH
Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement
Professor of Dental Medicine at CUMC