Recently when people discover I have been at the LGBT Center for 20+ years, they are amazed and ask how I have done it. My response is usually, “Change. Changing students, needs, campus situations, and societal views have enabled me to reinvent myself despite the Center’s mission staying the same. It is the only way to truly serve Penn’s LGBTQ+ communities well.” 2019 has been no different in that it was full of change for the Center, including but not limited to:
- The departure of Associate Director Tiffany Thompson
- A record number of Townsend Fund grants given for students making a gender transition
- Release of the Center’s first Faculty Out List
- Hiring and training a graduate student and alum Hector Kilgoe to catalog the Center’s Archives at the Kislak Center through the Schoenberg Archive and History Fund
- Increased outreach to, and collaboration with, graduate and professional students
- Opening of Penn’s first public all gender, multi-stall restroom in McNeil, with a few more slated to go live in summer 2020
- For the first time ever, the Center worked with all 12 schools in some capacity
- Assistance for students to go to conferences
- (Soft) launch of our new ‘Alumni Out Loud’ series over Homecoming to better connect alumni with current students via their personal stories
- More arts-focused and community collaborations
And these are only a few of our initiatives to ensure LGBTQ+ voices are heard, needs are met, and our Center continues to be a welcoming safe and brave space where everybody can bring their full selves.
One thing that has not changed, however, is my thanks. Thank you to our on- and off-campus collaborators, work-study staff, and our professional staff (Malik, Sam, and Loran), but also my deepest thanks to YOU. We could not do this vital, ever-changing work without you, our friends and supporters. So, thank you again on behalf of the Center and all of Penn’s LGBTQ+ communities. We forward to your continued support.
With gratitude and wishes for a wonderful 2020