For years, the University of Miami has coasted along on a reputation as a relatively LGBT-friendly campus in a relatively LGBT-friendly city without actually having much infrastructure or services in place for its LGBT students. The ranking of UM as merely a three-star school when it comes to LGBT inclusiveness from the 2015 Campus Pride Index made this abundantly clear. An open letter posted on Medium.com blasted the school for not being inclusive of trans* students.
Students pressed new university president Julio Frenk about the issue at his first town hall meeting with the university community earlier this year, and in a letter to the school Frenk has announced a sweeping new set of services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students.
"As we continue to define what it means to be a truly inclusive campus, we recognize that gender identity and sexual orientation are key components of diversity," wrote Frenk in a letter to the university campus today.
Frenk has previously announced gender-neutral, on-campus housing options for students. That option will be available starting in fall 2016, but only for upper-class students.
Here are the other new services the school will be providing:
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- Fourteen gender-neutral and inclusive restrooms will be designated on the Coral Gables and Rosenstiel School by this spring.
- A dedicated staff member and space will be provided to help students of all gender identities/expressions and sexual orientations by this spring.
- There will be two new sessions on campus and community resources for LGBTQ persons during campus orientation.
- University Communications will now make sure to include LGBTQ-inclusive language in university communications and marketing materials for students and alumni.
- The UM Alumni Association has now created an LGBTQ alumni group dubbed LGBTQ ’Canes.
"Working together, our commitment to these policies and programs will make the University of Miami a stronger, more welcoming community where all of us feel WE BELONG," concluded Frenk.
Those changes follow other recent improvements on the campus. Gender identity was recently added to the school's official nondiscrimination policy and in May, the school honored 22 graduating LGBTQ students and allies during the inaugural Lavender Celebration.