HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative
The creation of the of NBJC's HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative was inspired by the Arcus Foundation-funded Audre Lorde Black Lesbian Feminist Project, 2006-2011, at Spelman College. The overall objectives of the Audre Lorde Project were: to increase public awareness and understanding about African American LGBTQ experiences at HBCUs; to increase awareness about the marginalization of racial issues in the LGBTQ movement and queer studies; and to facilitate a climate of institutional change that acknowledges, values and respects difference, especially within particular academic contexts.
Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D (left) of Spelman College and Anika Simpson, Ph.D. (right) of Morgan State University will serve as co-chairs of the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council will assist NBJC in developing a strategic model that conceptualizes the critical path forward to ensure a welcoming, nurturing and affirming environment at HBCUs for the LGBTQ community.
The co-chairs serve as the foundation of the HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Advisory Council, and provide guidance and strategies to fulfill NBJC's commitment to build and implement public policies that foster institutions of learning to ensure that all people are fully-empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly within their campus community, regardless of race, class, religion, disability, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.
THE HBCU TOUR
L to R: Isaiah Wilson, External Affairs Manager, NBJC; Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director/CEO, NBJC; Pastor Delman Coates, Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD; Venton C. Jones Jr., Program Officer, LGBT Health and Wellness Initiative, NBJC; Darwin Thompson, Executive Director, NAESM, Inc.
During the 2015-2016 academic year, NBJC kicked off its HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Health and Wellness Tour to bring greater awareness and visibility to issues impacting the LGBTQ community at HBCUs, and to foster LGBTQ-inclusive cultural competency at HBCUs.
Cultural competence trainings are a major tenet of NBJC's HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative and aim to build a welcoming, nurturing and supportive climate at HBCUs for their LGBTQ campus community. In August 2016, NBJC launched its 2016-2017 HBCU tour schedule by revisiting Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. NBJC conducted three trainings during the New Student Orientation (NSO) Week at Morehouse for the Athletics Department, faculty/staff members, and more than 100 NSO student leaders. By invitation of Dr. Timothy Sams, Vice President for Student Development, and Harry Wright, Associate Dean of Student Services, NBJC was honored to play such a critical role in advancing the conversation and competency of key leadership at Morehouse College. The institution is committed to creating an inclusive, welcoming and affirming campus and has demonstrated that commitment through enforcing mandatory attendance during the cultural competence trainings.
Pastor Delman Coates during the NSO student leaders training.
Also during the tour, Pastor Delman Coates, Senior Pastor of Mt.Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD and a Morehouse Alum, led an important dialogue on an affirming interpretation of the bible on LGBTQ people, as well as the responsibility of "Morehouse Men" to be leaders who excel and carry out the mission of the institution. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was present to engage Morehouse student leaders on the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. NBJC will be partnering further with Morehouse College to create a service project for the NSO leaders interested in becoming PrEP Ambassadors to help students access the daily pill that significantly reduces a person's chances of contracting HIV.
According to the Campus Pride Index, only 21 percent of HBCUs have active university-sanctioned LGBTQ-specific organizations on their campuses.
Many LGBTQ students face alienation and emotional distress while creating campus environments of fearful silence and passive intolerance. (Source: Campus Pride)
LGBTQ Campus Resource Centers at HBCUs would demonstrate a commitment to "diversity, education, inclusion, protection, research, and support for all members of the campus community, which includes students, faculty, administrators, staff and alumni who [identify as LGBTQ] and often face additional barriers and stigmatization on campus." (Source: The Black Closet; Victoria Kirby York)
Only three HBCUs include gender identity/expression in their nondiscrimination statements. (Source: Campus Pride Index)