Monday, Jan. 5, marked a historic day for lesbian and gay couples in South Florida. Miami-Dade County became the first place in Florida to allow same-sex couples to marry, half a day before a gay-marriage ban that has been ruled unconstitutional was lifted in the rest of the state.
In honor of this landmark day, FIU News wanted to share the top 10 ways the university supports the LGBTQA community at FIU:
- Leading the way to marriage equality in Florida. FIU alumni Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello were the first same-sex couples to marry this week in Miami-Dade. The Panther couple is committed to the LGBTQA community and last fall were guest speakers at National Coming Out Day at FIU.
- Honoring LGBT activist Joseph L. Falk. In March, the Stempel Award –part of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work’s Path Awards 2015 – will be presented to Falk for his work on behalf of LGBT people and with SAVE DADE, where he is treasurer and member of the board of directors. His activism has helped forward the cause of human rights and full equality for LGBT men and women.
- Building more gender-neutral bathrooms. Most recently, FIU Housing converted six additional bathrooms to gender neutral. They are located in Parkview, Everglades, Lakeview South and Lakeview North. Construction for a gender neutral bathroom in the Graham Center is scheduled to begin this Spring semester.
- Creating a LGBTQA FIU Alumni Chapter. FIU’s Department of Multicultural Programs & Services (MPAS), LGBTQA Initiatives, with the assistance of the FIU Alumni Association, is working on the first LGBTQA chapter in South Florida. LGBTQA Initiatives will be holding it’s 2nd annual Alumni Family and Friends LGBTQA Breakfast at the Wolfsonia Museum on South Beach the morning of Miami’s Gay Pride Parade, April 12. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- $1 million endowment benefitting LGBTQA students. Patrick J. Russell, a long-time member of the FIU family, made a $1 million planned gift to support initiatives that benefit LGBTQA students. His gift will empower the Division of Student Affairs to implement national best practices that support LGBTQA students.
- Representing at 2014 Miami Beach Pride. More than 300 Panthers attended 2014 Miami Beach Pride. FIU had a booth and a float at the parade. President Mark B. Rosenberg was on the float for the second year in a row. For more information on this year’s Pride Parade festivities, contact the MPAS LGBTQA initiative’s office, GC 216.
- Having a LGBTQA-specific mentoring program. In its second year, the mentoring program counts on at least 50 faculty and staff members. The program provides support, safety and guidance to FIU’s LGBTQA students as they discover who they are.
- Hiring of a full-time staff person for LGBTQA initiatives. FIU is one of the select universities to have a dedicated staff member to serve the LGBTQA population – Gisela P. Vega, associate director for Multicultural Programs & Services, LGBTQA Initiatives.
- Offering a Queer Studies Certificate. Working across disciplinary fields, the program encourages students to investigate how non-normative or minority sexual and gender identities and expressions intersect with other categories, such as race, gender, class, nation, ethnicity and disability. The program is offered through the Women’s’ and Gender Studies Center.
- Launching LGBTQA initiatives website. Originally created by volunteers more than two years ago, FIU has a website solely dedicated to the universities LGBTQA initiatives through Student Affairs’ Department of Multicultural Programs & Services, LGBTQA Initiatives.