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Spotlight: Creating an Affirming Campus Culture

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Spotlight: Creating an Affirming Campus Culture

Date Published:
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

UNC Charlotte is a leader in creating a diverse, affirming campus, and it recently received recognition for those efforts.

Campus Pride, a national LGBTQ nonprofit organization, gave the University high marks for the campus’ climate when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues and concerns.

The Multicultural Resource Center is the clearinghouse for LGBTQ efforts on campus, and Ted Lewis, assistant director for sexual and gender diversity, spearheads programming and provides support to students, faculty and staff.

Since joining the University in 2007, Lewis has worked with the campus community to increase academic offerings, programming and partnerships focused on sexual and gender diversity.

Starting with the fall 2008 semester, the number of academic courses related to the LGBTQ community has increased, not only within the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, but other departments – religious studies, criminal justice and criminology and history to name a few. Lewis noted faculty members often invite him to deliver presentations related to gender and sexual identity, especially freshmen seminars.

Concerned faculty and staff were in place supporting PRIDE and the LGBTQ community for a long time here at UNC Charlotte. They worked to establish a graduate assistantship to serve the campus’ LBGTQ population, and ultimately that led to the creation of my position, which now allows the Multicultural Resource Center to be the central hub for the campus’ LBGTQ community.
Ted Lewis, Multicultural Resource Center

People Recognizing Individual Diversity and Education (PRIDE) is a student organization that coordinates meetings and offers support and social activities for LGBTQ and ally students. In the past three years, the group has launched a number of annual events – Coming Out Day, Day of Silence and the Scarlet Fever Charity Drag Show that benefited the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN).

More recently, the Multicultural Resource Center revamped its Safe Zone Program, a two-day training initiative open to all faculty and staff members. There are now more than 100 Safe Zone allies across campus, who can offer support or assistance in locating resources on campus and in the community to students, as well as fellow employees.

In the greater Charlotte community, the Multicultural Resource Center sponsored the University’s first AIDS Walk team in May 2010. The group raised more than $1,500 to benefit RAIN and was named Best Youth Team – an honor it repeated in May 2011, collecting more than $2,500 for RAIN.

Lewis continues to build partnerships across campus and in the community – with Time Out Youth, Charlotte’s LGBT Community Center, Carolina Cares, Charlotte Gender Alliance and the Carolina Transgender Society.

“Charlotte is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies that have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and their LGBTQ workforce. Connecting us to Charlotte’s LGBTQ organizations and these influential corporate leaders is important for our LGBTQ and ally students – not only will they have the chance to forge new alliances for community engagement initiatives but for potential career opportunities,” said Lewis. “Plus, our LGBTQ programming serves as a source of enrichment for a city that is becoming more affirming of the talents of its very diverse population.”

Click here for more information about the Multicultural Resource Center.