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HRC Hosts HBCU Presidents and Senior Leadership for First-of-Its-Kind Summit on LGBTQ Inclusion

The HRC Foundation hosted its first ever HBCU Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Briefing for university presidents and senior executive. The summit is a day-long meeting of high profile HBCU leadership to discuss LGBTQ inclusive practices and policies and share best practices for expanding equality on their campuses.

Presidents and senior officials from sixteen HBCUs joined HRC representatives, as well as Michael Lomax, CEO and President of the United Negro College Fund and former president of Dillard University, for the event. The strong showing from HBCU administrators underscores the enhanced need for leadership on LGBTQ inclusion from university officials amidst the ongoing attacks on LGBTQ rights within both K-12 and higher educational institutions by the Trump Administration.

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to be at the forefront of social change for our community,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Facing unprecedented attacks by the Trump-Pence regime on marginalized Americans of every background, the HBCU Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Briefing is one of the vital ways we continue to connect in new and unique ways to stand as a united front against those who oppose equality and justice for all. HRC is honored to host senior leadership from these sixteen esteemed institutions.”

“From Texas to DC, Georgia to Delaware, HBCU presidents and senior leadership are standing up for LGBTQ students,” said Leslie Hall, Manager of the HBCU Project. “The commitment and dedication demonstrated by HBCU leaders in attendance demonstrates that LGBTQ inclusion on HBCU campuses will continue moving forward regardless of the political environment. HRC’s HBCU Project looks forward to continuing to work with the administrators and others to ensure that every LGBTQ HBCU student is welcomed, affirmed and protected in who they are.”

The briefing is part of a multi-prong strategy to create high-level policy changes that will support and protect LGBTQ students and staff on college campuses around the country. 

Over the course of the daylong briefing, attendees heard from experts in the fields of higher education, business, and government on the importance of making investments in LGBTQ diversity and inclusion. HBCU Presidents and other senior administrators shared best practices and learned about HRC’s National HBCU Recognition Program, a new benchmark program measuring LGBTQ inclusion within historically Black colleges and universities. Representative Henry “Hank” Johnson (D-GA), a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and Thurgood Marshall School of Law and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, delivered the briefing’s keynote address.

“As a proud graduate of two HBCUs, Clark Atlanta University and Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, I believe that we should be doing all we can to help everyone feel welcomed and included,” said Representative Johnson. “We must hold the moral high ground to promote diversity and acceptance of all students at a time when equal rights are under attack. It is incumbent upon us to continue the legacy of community and inclusion I felt as a student and reject fearful silence and intolerance at every turn.”

The sixteen HBCUs represented at the briefing included Fayetteville State University, Dillard University, North Carolina A&T University, Virginia State University, University of the District of Columbia, Morehouse College, Norfolk State University, Howard University, Delaware State University, Savannah State University, University of Alabama, Johnson C. Smith University, Prairie View A&M University, Tennessee State University, and Texas Southern University.

HRC’s HBCU Project was founded to support LGBTQ students at HBCUs by providing resources and trainings to advance affirming and supportive college campuses.  For the last 12 years, the HBCU Project has hosted an annual HBCU Leadership Summit to train and prepare student leaders and administrators to advocate for LGBTQ inclusion and safety.  

To learn more about the HRC’s HBCU Project, visit http://www.hrc.org/blog/topic/hbcu