Penn is proud to be the home of the second oldest LGBTQ+ center in the US (the University of Michigan was first). What eventually became the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center (Center) was created in 1982 followed several homophobic campus incidents, including the severe beating of a gay sophomore by a fellow student. Student leaders and several progressive administrators took action by hiring founding director Bob Schoenberg to work three days a week as a point person for lesbian and gay concerns (there was no mention of bisexual or transgender people at that time) via Student Activities in Houston Hall.
When the Student Activities office restructured, the program moved to 3537 Locust Walk, eventually acquiring the entire third floor. Although he had assistance from a few work-study students and eventually a half-time staff person, more help was needed. In fall 1998 a second fulltime position was filled and by 2002, the Center was granted a third staff member; a staffing pattern which holds true today. Meanwhile, the Center’s name grew as well, including ‘bisexual’ in the late 1980s and ‘transgender’ in 1999.
In October 2000, Penn President Judith Rodin announced a major gift to the Center from David Goodhand, C’85 and Vincent Griski, W’85. At the same time, the University committed an entire campus building to become the LGBT Center’s home. With this gift and ensuing donations from many alumni and friends, the exterior of the historic 1870s Carriage House was restored and the interior was gutted and redesigned providing two floors of space for the Center and its affiliated student organizations, making it the physically largest LGBTQ+ center in the nation.
After 35+ years, we are incredibly proud of the Center’s progress and status as an invaluable campus resource. That said, we are constantly working to better serve the ever-changing and diverse LGBTQ+ community.