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Big Jump in Participation in LGBTQ Law School Survey Sign of Progress: Sponsor

The National LGBT Bar Association released the results of its 2020-2021 Campus Climate Survey and noted the poll netted responses from 110 law schools, which is up 26% from the previous year’s survey.

lgbtq 2495947 1920The survey covered 26 LGBTQ+ topics pertinent to students, staff and faculty. Subjects included in the poll spanned things like gender-neutral bathroom accessibility and course offerings, according to the group. “Our growth in response rate points to how law schools across the country are increasingly interested in fostering policies and a culture of equity and belonging for LGBTQ+ students,” said Judi O’Kelley, chief program officer of the National LGBT Bar Association, in a statement.

According to information from the Bar, the survey was completed by 56% of all accredited law schools in the U.S. The poll aims to explore where specific inclusion efforts “are nascent, where they are deepening, and where they are fully embedded in law school policies,” it adds.

From Twitter

Payton Thornton (he/him) @paythorn22 Apr 5

"This is the first year Scalia Law participated in the National LGBT Bar’s Law School Campus Climate Survey. This was a priority initiative during my time as President of the LGBTQ+ student group, Equality Alliance. A thread. (1/x)"

Some of the highlights included in the report:

  • 88% of the 110 schools that responded indicate they have gender-inclusive bathrooms;
  • 80 schools, or 73% of those that reported, said they offer LGBTQ+ specific courses;
  • Nearly every school that responded—all but six of them— said they offer designated funding for LGBTQ+ students aimed at providing “LGBTQ+ focused learning and/or career services opportunities;”
  • All but two of the participating schools report having an “active LGBTQ+ student group supported by the administration;” and
  • 95.5% of the schools included in the survey report they actively seek diverse staff, faculty and administrators, including LGBTQ+ individuals, in their hiring practices.

“This survey has lasting impact and value for so many: newly-out students looking for community; transgender and nonbinary students seeking gender-affirming spaces; straight and cisgender students committed to equity in their legal careers; and law professors and administrators who want to ensure that their students can thrive throughout their legal education,” added O'Kelley.

Outside of law schools, LGBTQ+ issues have recently been in the spotlight in a number of other areas. According to an article from NBC News, a U.S. district judge in South Carolina last month struck down a law in the state that prohibited the discussion of LGBTQ+ issues taking place in public school classes.

The now-overturned law was passed in 1988 and made discussion of LGBTQ+ issues illegal—specifically the discussion of “alternate lifestyles” other than heterosexual relations—unless they were in the context of sexually transmitted diseases.

The lawsuit hinged on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, noted the NBC News article. It was filed by a number of advocacy groups and student members of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at the School of the Arts in Charleston County.

In addition to the survey, the National LGBT Bar Association also re-released its best practices guide aimed at facilitating support for LGBTQ+ members. “The best practices guide helps law schools build a better tomorrow for their entire community, and for the profession as a whole,” said O’Kelley.

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