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Dear campus community,

June is Pride month, a celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities. It is an occasion to recognize the struggle for equality marked by the Stonewall riots in 1969 and continues to this day. As such, this observance honors the contributions and sacrifices that the LGBTQ community has made to the making of a more perfect union.

Pride matters a great deal at UCI. Members of the LGBTQ communities constitute an integral part of UCI’s past, present and future. They are our undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and communities served by UCI. Like other groups, each member of the LGBTQ communities reflects an extraordinary breath of intersectional identities comprised of ability, adoption status, class, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, immigration status, nationality, race, and veteran status among other dimensions of diversity.

As commencement approaches, it is fitting to laude LGBTQ members of the graduating class of 2021. They represent the very best of the Anteater spirit. Under the best of circumstances, completing an undergraduate, graduate or professional degree requires discipline, persistence and hope. The pandemic did more than disrupt how we learn and work. For many LGBTQ students, it exposed their vulnerability in ways that can be invisible to others. As reported in a joint study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the Point Foundation, LGBTQ students reported higher levels of insecurity associated with having to negotiate living situations where they were not supported by their families or where they were not “out” about their identity. Among the findings in the report include that they were twice as likely to have lost student housing than non-LGBTQ students. Among those who returned home, almost half did not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

To honor the determination of our students and celebrate Pride month, the campus is launching a new tradition. Beginning this evening the Pride colors will be projected against the iconic student center clock tower through the month of June. A collaboration of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Willie Banks and the ASUCI LGBTQ caucus, this tradition continues UCI’s enduring commitment to inclusive excellence.

There have been other noteworthy recent milestones. In February 2020, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) designated UCI Medical Center as a Healthcare Equity Leader based on its annual Health Equality Index (HRI). The Human Rights Campaign is the leading LGBTQ advocacy organization in the county. Through the HRI, it evaluates 1,700 health care facilities nationwide based on policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of LGBTQ patients, employees and visitors. One featured program in the UCI School of Medicine and the Sue & Bill School of Nursing is called Bridging the Gap. Launched with a Confronting Extremism grant in 2019, this program confronts the well-documented barriers that members of the LGBTQ communities encounter in health care access and outcomes. It both expands the curriculum of the medical and nursing school’s foci on LGBT+ health throughout all years of training and enhances collaboration with the LGBT+ local community members and health advocates.

The campus continues to promote an inclusive culture for the transgender community. In December 2020, UC President Michael V. Drake announced a new gender affirmation policy. This policy requires campuses to ensure that all individuals are identified by their accurate gender identity and lived or preferred name in our information systems. For more information about UCI’s efforts to create a gender inclusive campus, please consult the Gender Recognition Act (SB179) report entitled Toward a More Inclusive Campus for the Transgender, Intersex and Gender Non-Binary Community (2019).

Let’s celebrate Pride month 2021 while building a culture of inclusive excellence for all.

Sincerely,

Douglas M. Haynes, Ph.D. (Pronouns: he/him/his)
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer
Director, ADVANCE Program
Professor of History