Why OUTstanding? Here’s a question: Why not!? (In 2012–we still stand behind and support this reasoning!)
As faculty, staff, and students of UT and Knoxville community members, we believe all people should be treated with respect, dignity, and equality. In fact, policies and structures that support and show compassion for all sexual orientations, gender expressions and other identity factors ensures that everyone is treated equally and with respect.
Because everyone deserves love and support. Because everyone’s campus experience should be totally awesome. Because having a community of support is a human right. Because hate is not a family value. Because all of our complex and multifaceted identities should be celebrated. Because it doesn’t just get better, we make it better. Because it’s never too late. Because the future is at stake. Because there are strong forces out there that wish to demonize, discriminate, regulate, and perpetuate hate. Because it’s not about mere tolerance, but about education, celebration, and our collective vision of the future. Because we’re moving beyond tolerance and because it’s up to us.
In 2010, The Q Research Institute for Higher Education released a quantitative study entitled “State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People” consisting of all 50 states and a large sample of 5,149 students, faculty, and staff at higher education institutions. Dr. Rankin from Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Blumenfeild of The Iowa State University are director and associate research director of the Q Research Institute for Higher Education, respectively.
Some key findings of the “State of Higher Education” Research:
- There is a “chilly” environment for LGBTIQ students, faculty and staff in higher education institutions
- 25% of respondents reported harassment based on sexual identity
- More than 50% of students, faculty and staff hide their sexual identity to avoid intimidation
- 43% of transgender students fear for their safety, 15% of LGBQ students fear for their safety
- Retention rates are a significant issue for LGBTIQ students
- 35% of LGBTIQ students, faculty and staff have seriously considered leaving their institution due to the unsafe climate
- It costs more money to recruit new students, faculty and staff than to retain students, faculty and staff
Best Practice Recommendations of the “State of Higher Education” Research
- Develop inclusive institutional policies and procedures
- Integrate LGBTIQ issues and concerns into curricular and non-curricular activities