For more than 50 years, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have gathered for Pride Week—building community, gathering allies and reflecting on lived experiences. In one week, members and friends and family of Utah’s LGBTQIA+ community will gather to celebrate Pride Week (May 29-June 5).
While Pride Week is a time of celebration, its events also can become targets for hate crimes, spurring increased vandalism, harassment and physical attacks. And this year, the annual celebrations coincide with an uptick in social commentary and political efforts to reverse and limit transgender rights.
Since Pride Week at the U, March 19-25, University of Utah Safety officials have documented five cases of hateful or biased crimes on campus directed at members of the LGBTQIA+ community, including:
- Removal of a Pride Week at the U event poster
- Vandalism of the flag-wrapped Block U
- Homophobic chant at an intramural soccer match
- Anti-Trans vandalism in a School of Business restroom
- Anti-Gay vandalism during the Monster Jam event
These incidents coincide with escalating debate and legislation to curb the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. More than 300 bills have been introduced across the country in 2022, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
In this heightened environment, members of the University of Utah community have a unique role to play, said Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Allies at the U can help by de-escalating conflicts, speaking up when they see a hate-based crime, and coming together to support all LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff—even during the quieter summer months.
“These acts demean, dismiss and attempt to erase the day-to-day experiences of our friends and family members,” Villarreal said. “We are working to create a campus community where all individuals feel a sense of safety and belonging, and have the space to explore, express and celebrate their whole selves.”
While members of the campus community are urged to act individually, university leaders have committed to several campus-wide efforts, including the Presidential Commission on Equity and Belonging (PCEB) and the annual Day of Collective Action.
University record-keeping systems for students and employees also have changed to better reflect the campus community. Beginning in January 2021, students and employees have the option of updating their profiles in the online Campus Information Services (CIS) portal and in the campus directory to include chosen gender pronouns and preferred names. Also last fall, the LGBT Resource Center launched two new initiatives for the QTSOC (Queer and Trans Students of Color) community—hiring a new QTSOC Community Development Specialist position and creating a QTSOC affinity space through social meetings and events.
“We will continue to defend and preserve the rights of every member of our campus community to live authentically,” said Taylor Randall, president. “We are committed to preserving the University of Utah’s campus as a place where everyone feels welcome, safe and included.”
Support and resources
If you are interested in learning more about the variety of resources the U offers to support diversity and inclusion, please visit the Office of the Dean of Students in the Union Building, Room 270, firstname.lastname@example.org, 801-581-7066, or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Park Building, Room 208, or diversity.utah.edu. To make a report of a racist or bias incident, visit the public reporting form.
Stopping this type of behavior takes collective action, and bystander intervention efforts are one way of combatting conduct that can wrongfully be seen as a prank or joke but can cause real harm. To learn more about how to incorporate bystander intervention into your toolkit, check out the information here.
If you have experienced or are impacted by biased or hateful behavior on our campus, we want to know so that we can address those acts quickly and provide support. Incidents can be reported to the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team here. Counseling and support services are available from several entities on campus, which can be found here.
For trans and non-binary students, the LGBT Resource Center has online Trans Resources or can be visited in person in the Union. The Women’s Resource Center and University Counseling Center can provide confidential counseling services.
For trans and non-binary employees, Human Resources offers the Employee Assistance Program for counseling support. Anyone who is transitioning can seek additional support from HR for name changes and to work with colleagues on your team, if necessary. Additionally, the HR team has updated systems to include individuals’ chosen name, which includes the campus directory, Kronos, Bridge, new employee applications and more.
If you experience harassment or discrimination, visit the Office of Equal Opportunity, and please report.
For education to gain an understanding of trans and non-binary people, things affecting the trans and non-binary community, and how to be an advocate, The Trevor Project or the National Center for Transgender Equality are great places to start. U of U Health has created a Transgender Health Program, which is a great resource for trans and non-binary people and also hosts several seminars that are educational for those interested in supporting the trans community.