HRC Foundation hosted its second Historically Black Colleges and Universities Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Briefing for University Presidents and Senior Executives. This year’s day-long meeting was the largest-ever gathering of HBCU presidents discussing LGBTQ inclusive practices and policies.
In total, 12 HBCUs were represented at Wednesday’s summit, including five HBCU presidents, the most ever for a discussion on LGBTQ equality. Michael Lomax, CEO and President of the UNFC (United Negro College Fund), also participated, along with HRC staff, representatives from major employers, and HBCU alumni who serve on HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council.
“Amidst efforts to roll back federal protections for LGBTQ college students, HBCUs are stepping up to expand inclusion and support for LGBTQ people on their campuses,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, Senior Vice President for Programs, Training and Research for the HRC Foundation. “From enhanced inclusive programming to institutional investment in support staff, the momentum for equality at America’s HBCUs has never been clearer. HRC is honored to host presidents and senior leadership from these 12 esteemed institutions to continue the critical work of ensuring that all LGBTQ students, staff and faculty feel safe, supported and protected -- not just at these colleges and universities, but at every HBCU around the country.”
Since last July’s first-of-its-kind summit at HRC, many participating HBCUs have expanded support and programming for LGBTQ students. Among important advancements: Dillard University assembled a presidential working group on LGBTQ issues and launched a week dedicated to topics discussing gender identity and sexual orientation. Virginia State University held a campus-wide training on LGBTQ inclusion. And Fayatteville State established an LGBTQ resource office with a dedicated staff member.
The 12 HBCUs represented at yesterday’s briefing included Howard University, Morgan State University, Virginia State University, North Carolina A&T University, Hampton University, Spelman College, Dillard University, Kentucky State University, Savannah State University, Prairie View A&M University, Johnson C. Smith University and Claflin University. Participants explored a range of topics, including: HIV prevention, corporate diversity and supporting the families of LGBTQ HBCU prospective and current students.
“The record number of HBCU presidents coming together to discuss and share best practices on LGBTQ inclusion demonstrates their growing commitment to addressing the ongoing challenges facing LGBTQ students, educators and staff at our nation’s HBCUs,” said Leslie Hall, Associate Director, HBCU Program “Leading HRC’s HBCU Program. I see firsthand the urgent need for continued action in support of LGBTQ members of our HBCU campus communities. Building on the progress demonstrated by these HBCU leaders, we look forward to continuing to work with HBCU administrators and student activists to advance inclusion and equity on HBCU campuses.”
The Presidents’ Summit is part of a multi-pronged strategy to create high-level policy changes that will support and protect LGBTQ students and staff on college campuses around the country. HRC’s HBCU Program was founded to support LGBTQ students at HBCUs by providing resources and trainings to advance affirming and supportive college campuses. For the last 13 years, the HBCU Program has hosted an annual HBCU Leadership Summit to train and prepare student leaders and administrators to advocate for LGBTQ inclusion and safety.
In conjunction with the summit, HRC’s HBCU Program released a video detailing the important work they are doing and featuring many of the inspiring student-activists moving equality forward on HBCU campuses around the nation.
To learn more about the HRC’s HBCU Program, visit hrc.org/HBCU.