7 reasons UWM is tops for LGBT+ education

By UWM News
February 16th, 2015

Panther Pride comes in every color of the rainbow – not just black and gold. Here’s a look at seven reasons why the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a Top 50 LGBT+ Friendly University, as recognized by the national nonprofit Campus Pride.

We have a passion for queer education. UWM is the only university in Wisconsin with an LGBT studies program that offers its own courses. The program, one of the oldest in the nation, is an interdisciplinary effort that includes more than a dozen departments on campus. UWM also educates the campus and community-at-large with workshops and training that can be tailored for specific groups and organizations. And, the UWM Libraries house Wisconsin’s largest collection of LGBT+ historical and contemporary materials.

We respect pronoun preferences. The LGBT Resource Center has developed a pocket-sized pronoun card that helps folks introduce themselves the way they’re most comfortable. That could be him/her, eirself/verself or any number of other options. Other universities around the nation are now using the card a result of UWM’s connections with the Consortium for Higher Education Professionals.

Standout arts and cultural programs have been sharing and shaping LGBT+ culture for decades. The 15th annual UWM Drag Show — the Midwest’s largest — debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday in its new off-campus venue, the Milwaukee Theatre. The show draws more than 1,000 people each year, with proceeds going to local LGBT+ nonprofits. The 30-year-old Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival is based out of UWM’s Peck School of the Arts, with satellite showings across the city and throughout the year.

We’re a trendsetter in inclusive housing and facilities. With 70 single-stall gender-neutral restrooms on campus and the first inclusive housing policy in the University of Wisconsin System, UWM leads the way for comfort and inclusion. Inclusive housing means assignments correspond with students’ gender identity and accommodate those who identify as transgender, queer or elsewhere on the LGBT+ spectrum. They also affirm UWM’s commitment to cultural, intellectual and experiential learning.

We celebrate graduation in style. UWM will hold its sixth annual Lavender Graduation on May 13, celebrating the achievements and identity of graduates who identify on the LGBTQIA spectrum. The lavender-carpet event includes awards, photos and plenty of cupcakes and chocolate. Friends and family are welcome, but the rainbow tassels are for grads only.

Our LGBT+ community is bigger than campus. LGBT+ faculty, staff and students offer workshops and training to other schools and organizations to help extend UWM’s influence beyond the campus boundaries. The GSA Project works with area high school Gay Straight Alliances to help them advocate for safer schools and welcome members to UWM as prospective students. UWM students also host a yearly clothing drive for homeless LGBTQ+ youth.

We support true love. Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann met at UWM in 1976. They joined seven other couples and the American Civil Liberties Union last year in successfully suing the state of Wisconsin for the right to marry. They wed in October, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Congratulatory letters have poured in from all of the country for the newlyweds, including one from the White House.

UWM’s LGBT Resource Center contributed to this story.