Fordham University School of Law
Summary of the Positive Aspects: Many of the positive aspects of the LGBTQ+ environment at Fordham is the University’s general support for the organization. Fordham has given OUTLaws an interview and spotlight on the school website, and has written an article interviewing the incoming and outgoing leadership. Moreover, this support includes a strong culture of different affinity groups supporting each other. OUTLaws has both individual monthly meetings with the administration as well as group monthly meetings along with other student leaders. In these meetings we meet with the college faculty and administration to discuss issues affecting LGBTQ+ students and the student body as a whole. This gives us the opportunity to collaborate with different student groups and organizations to collaborate and create new programs. Overall, OUTLaws has a good and growing membership among students.
In terms of the faculty support there are some professors that are good at facilitating pronoun usage, and using people’s names. Professors have begun using technology such as google forms, and pronouns on Zoom to increase pronoun usage. One of our goals this year is maintaining our connections with the LGBTQ+ faculty including one of the new deans who is also of the LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, in terms of academic events such as the OUTLaws symposium there is always administrative support, in terms of administrators agreeing to give opening remarks, faculty agreeing to moderate the event, as well as help out with technology, photography, catering as well as other aspects of the event that we need. We also have a good relationship with career services, as they have attended our general body meetings, and we are continuing to build our relationship with LGBTQ+ Fordham Alumni post-pandemic.
In terms of our programming we have largely been supported and successful. We have a Fordham OUTLaws instagram, and communications are supported, and often put on the school calendar. Coming out of the pandemic we have been able to have events sponsored by different law firms that have allowed LGBTQ+ students to network with LGBTQ+ attorneys. Moreover, we have had events with alumni to rebuild relationships with alumni. Finally, academically we have our upcoming OUTLaws symposium that centers around LGBTQ+ issues in the sphere of international law. Finally, one of our final events will be an Alumni Awards Dinner, to celebrate the year’s achievements, our sponsors, and the alumni that have paved the way for us.
Positive Aspects of the LGBTQ+ environment
– Fordham is supportive of OUTLaws as an organization. We have had some success raising issues to the administration on smaller issues.
– Strong culture of different affinity groups supporting each other and offering joint programing, which we think positively contributes to the campus community
– School funding and support for academic events
– Progressive Professors –> A small number of professors are good about getting information from students before the first day of class regarding what name they should use and pronouns (ex – sending a google form for students to fill out). We hope that more professors do this.
– We have a good relationship with the small number of LGBTQ+ faculty (including a dean)
– We have good (and growing) membership
– Diversity Advisory Council Meetings, and regular meetings with the Dean
– Symposium and General Academic Support
– Open support for OUTLaws on Fordham’s website and social media pages
– Sexuality and Gender based classes are taught
Areas for improvement:
Summary: For some areas of improvement one of the areas involve the speakers that are brought to Fordhams’ campus. Some speakers who have been brought to campus by different student groups are Anti-LGBTQ+ or have cosigned on laws that go against LGBTQ+ laws, and policies. OUTLaws will continue to push back against those speakers, and their Anti-LGBTQ+ views and rhetoric. Moreover, another area of improvement is that the school needs more gender neutral language in the classroom and in their hypotheticals. The legal writing department has taken the lead on this issue, but not all professors have transitioned to using gender neutral language. The school has shown much improvement in this regard. In terms of gender neutral bathrooms, while there are some gender neutral bathrooms in the building, they do not exist on some floors of the law school building. Moreover, only certain bathrooms provide menstrual products, and they are not accessible in every bathroom – only the women’s bathrooms and a couple of gender neutral bathrooms within the building.
Hofstra University, Maurice A. Deane School of Law
Hofstra OUTLaw: Hofstra Law is committed to fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion that embraces faculty, staff, and students of all backgrounds. The law school appreciates that excellence can only be achieved in an environment marked by genuine respect, compassion, dignity, and opportunity for every individual. The school aims to be a place that reflects the diverse communities – one which enables diverse voices to be authentically heard and valued.
The law school operates an LGBTQ+ Rights Fellowship and there is a student organization for LGBTQ+ students called Hofstra OUTLaw. OUTLaw’s mission is to provide a unified voice for the LGBTQ+ community and inspire collective action. The organization promotes visibility and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and provides a safe space to address the legal, social and political issues impacting LGBTQ+ and other marginalized peoples.
Below are anonymous statements submitted to Hofstra OUTLaw from current students regarding their experience with LGBTQ+ Inclusion at Hofstra Law:
Anticipated Class of 2023 Graduate (she/her)
“My personal experience and view are that Hofstra Law is a pretty homophobic atmosphere as far is the student body is concerned. There’s times where I’ll mention OutLaw to a classmate I am not close with and people around will laugh or say things like “the f*g club”, and that’s the nicest of the comments or arguments why the club exists. I am engaged to a woman and so when I am talking with new people and they see my ring and ask how “he” proposed and I’ll correct it to “she” the mood changes and the conversation ends. Even just last semester a classmate I had never spoken to but have on social media was walking past me and for no reason at all said to the person next to them loud and clear “she’s a f*g” while pointing at me. This person has continued to flip me off if I walk by or point and laugh at me if they see me and they are with their friends, I have never even interacted with this person and they do this because I am with a woman. If people are walking by while I am talking to my friends about my fiancé or simply liking women in general, and someone is walking by, I get weird looks and sometimes I even get flipped the middle finger, and I have no idea who those people are.
I have met some great friends who are accepting. But the general view from me on people that I am not friends with is that it’s not a safe place to be gay.
In addition to my personal experiences, Hofstra Law itself doesn’t go out of its way to make it a known supporter of LGBTQ+ community. They’ll repost events to let people know it’s going on, but they don’t have something as simple as a gay flag somewhere. They don’t make it a point to promote knowledge and acceptance of the LGBT community when it’s a simple thing to do if they did support us.”
Anticipated Class of 2023 Graduate (she/her):
“I’ve found that my interactions at Hofstra Law as a queer law school student have been pretty positive, and Hofstra Law seems to have a positive attitude towards queer students. When I come to campus, I don’t anticipate facing physical violence, and I feel as relatively safe on Hofstra Law’s campus as a queer woman as I do in most other places in New York City and Long Island.
There is an LGBT Right Fellowship that Hofstra Law offers that is run by Clinical Professor Lauris Wren that is designed to demonstrate Hofstra’s commitment to equality and support for LGBT individuals. The fellowship does an annual Transgender Name Change Clinic. Through Hofstra Law, the fellowship provides funding for the fellows to partake in unpaid summer internships in public interest law to advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. I’ve heard from previous fellows that before the pandemic, Hofstra Law provided a stipend for the fellows to travel to the annual Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair, which is the largest LGBTQ+ legal conference in the country.
Additionally, Dean Lisa M. Monticciolo seems to be incredibly supportive of making sure Hofstra Law is a safe place for queer students and during the 2021-2022 academic year she regularly attends OUTLaw events and community hours. The Senior Director of Career Services and Diversity Initiatives, Mickheila N Jasmin-Beamon, is great about finding opportunities for queer law school students to apply to and try’s to help actively plan events, especially the 2021-2022 Diversity Mixer, for all of the diversity organizations including OUTLaw.
Even though the pandemic led to Hofstra Law’s OUTLaw during the 2020-2021 year to be relatively inactive since we’ve started the 2021-2022 academic year, OUTLaw has been very active on campus doing regular community hours and attempting to do outreach events such as drag bingo, and panels on transgender issues and eating disorders among other events.
However, despite not having faced any discrimination based on my sexuality (at least to my face or that I’m aware of) at Hofstra Law, I have heard several instances of other students facing discrimination in the form of either blatant or subtle sexist, homophonic and transphobic comments and actions, especially during the 2021-2022 academic year. These instances range from students calling other students f*gs to Professors calling feminine presenting students “young lady” while calling masculine-presenting students are referred to as “counselor” and consistently misgendering students despite that student and others continuously correcting the professor. The events OUTLaw had organized during the 2021-2022 academic year are typically only attended by OUTLaw students and other diversity organizations on campus; non-diverse students seem not to go out of their way to participate in OUTLaw events. Additionally, the LGBT Rights Fellowship is only offered to 2-3 students per year, meaning most queer students aren’t able to receive the same benefits the Hofstra Law provides through the fellowship and the fellowship is relatively inactive on campus with the only event the fellows having conducted during my entire time Hofstra Law (2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years) being the annual Transgender Name Change Clinic.”
Anticipated Class of 2023 Graduate (he/him)
“Hofstra Law is all around a welcoming place for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The OUTLaw club on campus is very active and garners strong support from the school’s administration. There are fellowship opportunities specific to LGBTQ+ rights and the school endorses their activities-including an annual transgender name change clinic.
Multiple members of the faculty and administration are members of the LGBTQ+ community and provide their support whenever it is called upon. There is also a DEI career services department, which assists in taking advantage of career and other academic opportunities unique to the LGBTQ+ students.”
Anticipated Class of 2022 Graduate (she/her)
“I’m a 3L finishing up my time at Hofstra Law and I’d have to say getting involved with Outlaw totally changed my experience here for the better. Before joining, I felt kind of lost and couldn’t really find my place. After joining the executive board of Outlaw, I became close with other executive board members and the older members. The older members were always there to help with practice interviews, outlines, and advice about professors. Without their guidance and support, law school would have been a much lonelier place for me. I’m so glad to have met the other members and hope other people have similar experiences!”
Anticipated Class of 2024 Graduate (She/her)
“It took me a while to really figure out the answer to the question “What is Hofstra Law like for a queer student?” because I kept comparing it to my experiences as an a queer undergraduate student. I was expecting Law School to be unaccepting of my sexuality, and outwardly bigoted. However, this has not been the case. My classmates and the Law School in general have been inclusive and accepting of my sexuality. It was even funny, [even an honor] of being the first lesbian an out-of-state peer has ever met. For the first time in a long time, I can be in an academic setting and seen as a person, not exclusively as queer person.”
Anticipated Class of 2022 Graduate (he/him)
“I believe that Hofstra has some good LGBTQ+ inclusion, but there could be improvement. As an LGBT Rights Fellow, I have been able to plan and participate in a clinic that directly gives back to my community. I also believe that OUTLaw has done a lot of great work during my time here. While I personally have not experienced homophobia or transphobia at Hofstra, I have a few concerns regarding Hofstra Law’s LGBTQ+ inclusion. Firstly, many professors here are very adamant about using gendered titles (Mr., Ms., etc.), and don’t leave much space for non-binary inclusion in the classroom. Secondly, I have heard of one incident in which a professor was transphobic in the classroom setting and did not face any repercussions from administration. Lastly, I am concerned over the strong presence that conservative groups have, and worry that it’s only a matter of time before they spew anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric to a large platform under the guise of free speech.”
Anticipated Class of 2024 Graduate (he/him)
“One of the reasons I chose to attend Hofstra Law School was because of their diverse student body, specifically the inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community, and I was not disappointed when I arrived. Before I even attended the school, the LGBTQ+ rights Fellowship was offered to me and knowing that was even offered at a University was a great feeling. Everyone at the school, including professors are extremely conscious about everyones diversity but also promote conversations in a healthy way. During my first semester, I easily found a lot of students in the LGBT+ community and even one of my professors was apart of the community. No matter how you identify, you will never feel ostracized at Hofstra University! Through fellowships and clubs there are plenty of ways to get involved and connect with people within the LGBTQ+ community.”
Anticipated Class of 2023 Graduate (he/him/they/them)
“Hofstra Law, while generally inclusive, open, and accommodating, does not emphasize queer visibility and is not queer-forward. You will be welcome here, you will be safe and accepted here, and nobody will tolerate discrimination of any kind here, but you may feel slightly invisible outside of OUTLaw. Queer rights and queer issues will intersect with what you learn, but it won’t come up much outside of Con Law’s discussion of cases that led to cases like Lawrence, Obergefell, Windsor, and Bostock. However, OUTLaw is easily the one of the most active and most visible student orgs in the law school, often having an outsized impact on the student body as a whole. That alone will often come close to making up for that feeling of invisibility that can also be experienced.”
Anticipated Class of 2024 Graduate (she/her)
“I feel indifferent about the LGBTQ+ inclusion at Hofstra Law. At my undergraduate institution, the LGBTQ+ Community had a very large presence and multiple clubs or activities centered queer people all the time. Coming to Hofstra was a little bit of a culture shock in the sense that the large community I was used to being the center of attention was kind of in the backgrounds but I’m not sure if that’s necessarily not inclusive, maybe it’s just that law students are more individualistic.
I know in our last meeting, a fellow mentioned being constantly misgendered and having a difficult time with Professors and Admin addressing it. As I recall from my 1L orientation, our DEI training didn’t really go over queer issues. I think that needs to be more of a priority for admin going forward. I also wished there were more electives regarding LGBTQ+ legal issues at Hofstra. I think inclusivity doesn’t just mean the school “supports” us but also actively makes room for us.”
Anticipated Class of 2024 Graduate (she/her)
“As a member of Outlaw, regarding LGBTQ inclusion I can say I am appreciative of the activities and events the law school has hosted. At the same time, Im a working part-time student and I’m not really able to fully participate in a lot of events.
I’m not sure if this is import, but i’m a heterosexual cis-female. I have not come across any uncomfortable interactions regarding my sexuality. The 1L teachers I’ve had have not made any offensive remarks, or made remarks that I have found to be offensive. They have made announcements apologizing for any comments that might have been offensive and expressed that they were open to conversations.”
University of Nevada, Las Vegas Boyd School of Law
On our end, the primary issue is that we don’t have much involvement and we’re struggling to adapt to the virtual landscape as an org. Our school doesn’t have many openly identifying queer folks and because of that we have struggled to get new members or engage our members since we’re fully online.