An LGBTQ Ally is an individual with the awareness, knowledge, and skills to confront injustice and advocate for equality, while supporting all persons, regardless of perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, who are experiencing discrimination. The LGBTQ Ally program is a three hour training open to the entire campus community on how to advocate and provide resources to students who identify within the LGBTQ spectrum. After the training, participants have an opportunity to sign commitment forms to become official LGBTQ Allies at the University of Oklahoma. Allies then display a sign, button, and/or T-shirt with the official LGBTQ Ally logo to visibly identify themselves as trained supporters, which is critical to finding support and showing representation in our campus community. This sign identifies individuals to whom students can talk to, in confidence, about resources, issues, questions, fears, and concerns.
In its first year, the LGBTQ Ally program trained 58 participants. Seven years later, during the 2015-2016 Academic Year, LGBTQ Ally trained 1,200 participants across the Norman, Tulsa, and OKC campuses, a 66% increase over the prior year. Since its inception, the program has trained 4,500 staff, faculty, and students. With our current state, national, and global climates, the demand for such programming continues to grow; however, the state funding for higher education will make providing such resources challenging.
Our goal is to raise $9,000, which will allow us to grow our LGBTQ Ally base by 40% and to strengthen the knowledge of our existing Allies. This support will help the Gender + Equality Center respond to the demand for LGBTQ Ally, ultimately, creating a more informed, welcoming, and affirming campus for the LGBTQ community. With the additional resources, we will expand our educational platform by creating and piloting an LGBTQ Ally Refresher course for existing Allies to improve their ability to be effective in their role as an ally ($1,500). Existing Allies and the entire campus community will benefit from a continuing education initiative, the LGBTQ Lunch & Learn Series, with six events offered during the academic year focused on specific issues within the LGBTQ community ($1,000). The Gender + Equality Center will add 13 additional Ally sessions ($6,500) next year on the OU–Tulsa Campus (2), the OUHSC Campus (2), to the Greek community (2), and for campus departments and classrooms (7). Lastly, with education, representation, and resources being the foundation of LGBTQ Ally, if we raise more than our goal, the additional funds would go toward bringing in a nationally recognized speaker.
How Can You Help?
It’s simple, you can share our message through your social media contacts, email your friends and family, and talk to your colleagues. We believe that OU has the power to grow this program and demonstrate support for the LGBTQ community at the University of Oklahoma.
More about the Gender + Equality Center
The University of Oklahoma Gender + Equality Center was founded in 1999, then the Women’s Outreach Center. The goals of the Center were to provide a space that advocated for all women and education and resources focused on gender equity. In 2008, the scope of the Center evolved to include LGBTQ Programs. Since that time, the GEC has expanded the number of LGBTQ student services by raising awareness through education, programming, and advocacy of LGBTQ issues and championing social justice for all OU students, faculty, and staff. In 2016, the Center officially changed its name to the Gender + Equality Center to better reflect the services provided to the OU campus community.
Our LGBTQ community and our Allies already make our campus better, thank you for your continued commitment to this program, the LGBTQ community, and OU. We cannot wait to roll out these new initiatives which will make the campus experience better for everyone, especially our LGBTQ students.