The Office of JD Admissions has a number of initiatives to recruit LGBTQ+ students and support them in the prospective, admitted, and incoming stages. During pre-COVID times, information sessions are held at schools; LGBTQ+ organization and students are actively invited. During the pandemic, information sessions pivoted to a remote format. Admissions also works closely with our LGBTQ+ student group (OUTLaw) on various initiatives, such as a letter sent to prospective students educating about the community and email and phone outreach from OUTLaw to prospective students. Typically during Admitted Students Day programming, an annual reception by OUTLaw is hosted. This year, OUTLaw will be participating in virtual student organization fairs for admitted students.
The admissions applications contains space for students to write their preferred name, and this is used in all future communication with the student. There is an optional question which invites students to identify their sexual orientation, and in addition to providing nonbinary options on questions about gender, there is another question which reads: “We recognize that gender identity can be expressed in a variety of ways. Should you wish to elaborate beyond your response to the previous question(s), you are invited to complete the section below.” The question has only been on the application for two years, so we do not yet have complete data on how many self-identified LGBTQ+ students are currently enrolled at the school.
The Law School seeks to employ a diverse staff, faculty, and administration. All open job positions are posted to a wide variety of outlets, including those specifically targeting members of marginalized groups. Job posting descriptions include a statement inviting persons of marginalized sexual orientations/gender identities, people of color, veterans, and individuals with disabilities to apply.
“CWS counselors are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurse practitioners, and advanced trainees in those professions. There are male and female counselors, counselors from different racial and national backgrounds, and counselors who specialize in substance abuse, LGBTQ+ concerns, eating disorders, international students, and other concerns. We also have counselors who specialize in the issues of students from different schools: CAS, Gallatin, Law, Social Work, Steinhardt, Tisch, and students living in residence halls.”
All single-stall restrooms all have signs on their exterior clearly stating “Gender Neutral Bathroom.” There are lists of single-stall/gender-neutral restrooms on our website and on event materials. The security desks in each academic building also can point students in the correct direction.
All bathrooms have signs displayed reading in text and Braille “All individuals are welcome to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity.”
We offer numerous classes related to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as classes that address relating issues of orientation, gender, discrimination, and civil liberties. A non-exhaustive list of these courses includes: LGBTQ Rights Externship; Civil Rights Law; Current Issues in Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Seminar; Sexuality, Gender and the Law; Free Speech, Ethical Transformation, and Social Change: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation; Sexual Discrimination Law; Constitutional Law; and International Human Rights Law.
Our student group OUTLaw is very active on campus and supported by the institution. While the current global health crisis has shifted the way student groups are operating, institutional support is still available in the form of: funding, administrative support for events and programming, meal delivery credit for students to host virtual events, prominence funding for students to attend virtual conferences and learning opportunities, and support for live captioning for events. OUTLaw continues to host events in a remote setting, including QTPOC mixers, general body meetings, and educational content including speaker sessions and panels. The group’s description can be found here: https://www.law.nyu.edu/studentorganizations/outlaw.
NYU requires new employees to complete training on discrimination and harassment. Additional training, which is not mandatory but is encouraged, is offered through NYU’s Office of Equal Opportunity for all supervisors and through the Center for Multicultural Education for all community members. Administrators and staff are encouraged to attend trainings around unconscious bias, various elements of diversity, and creating inclusive communities. All students are required to attend sessions on diversity and inclusion, including LGBTQ+ curriculum and antiracism curriculum, during Orientation programming. Further optional training is available for students through the university and through student groups who host individualized training sessions as events.
NYU School of Law has long held that a plurality of perspectives is a source of strength for individuals and institutions, and is proud of our long history of diversity and inclusion, while simultaneously holding that there is more work to be done and actively working to improve conditions for our students, faculty, and staff/administrators. This is particularly salient during the COVID-19 pandemic and the pivot to virtual learning.
The Law School’s Strategic Plan includes a commitment to investing resources and time to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning community. Faculty have participated in small-group discussions about how best to further this mission. The Law School’s Inclusion & Diversity Committee (IDC) has engaged in a multi-year project to address a broad range of diversity-related issues on campus. The Committee’s mission is to foster and support diversity in all respects, with special attentiveness to groups historically or currently under-represented in the law or in leadership in the legal profession, including on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, and mental or physical disability. Specifically, as regards the faculty, staff, administrators, and students of NYU Law, the IDC aims to ensure that diverse groups are represented and supported, and diverse viewpoints are heard and respected. The IDC has worked to pay structural attention to student climate issues, including peer-to-peer and classroom interactions; to give attention to academic opportunity and success, including teaching assistant and research assistant opportunities, extracurricular activities, honors and awards, and student advising; to support sustained attention to diversity in faculty hiring, student admissions and recruitment; to identify and rectify any recurring sources of conflict on issues of inclusion, and to strategically advise the Dean, vice deans, and heads of faculty committees on issues of diversity and inclusion.
As an addendum to the IDC’s Inclusive Classroom Climate document, which is a guide for professors indicating best practices for diversity and inclusion in the classroom (including LGBTQ+ best practices and inclusive language guides), the Diversity and Inclusion office created a student version. The student document includes best practices for students to be active participants in creating an inclusive intellectual climate in the classroom, including information specific to COVID-19 and remote learning. The document includes LGBTQ+ material and vocabulary, and was released to students at the beginning of the academic year during orientation.
The record-keeping software that NYU uses allows students to list their pronouns on their profile. Students have the option to list a preferred name on that software (even if they have not pursued a legal name change), which is the name given to professors on rosters. If a student does pursue a legal name change, their deadname can be erased entirely from the NYU system. During COVID-19, we have encouraged all students to include their pronouns as part of their name on Zoom and Google Meet platforms, as well as offered guidance for students who would like instructions on how to do so. Students who would like to change their name are able to seek counsel through the Diversity & Inclusion office to help them through the process.
Three centers at the Law School are also important in our overall work to uplift LGBTQ+ and other marginalized voices: The Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law, and the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network. These centers host frequent programming along with their educational and research work.
NYU Law places enormous value on being a community committed to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging. We believe that our learning community is made stronger by efforts to reflect the diversity of the broader global community, and ensure that all members of the community are able to access our resources and the richness of our intellectual life. We are proud of our achievements, but we are not complacent, and are constantly looking to the future for ways to improve upon our successes across the entire institution.