Spelman Just Made A Major Move To Support Its LGBT Students
With a college education growing more and more out of reach for many students due to skyrocketing tuition costs, historically black college Spelman just found a way help students achieve their academic goals while spreading awareness about diversity.
Attn.com reports with money donated by an alumna, the black women’s college has created a scholarship for LGBT students. The Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program, named after a historic black surgeon and civil rights activist, will give out two renewable $25,000 scholarships to self-identified sophomores every year. Watkins was Spelman professor’s Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s cousin as well as a member of the Women’s Research and Resource Center’s National Advisory Board from its establishment in 2008 until his death in 2015. He implanted the first automatic heart defibrillator in a patient and was instrumental in recruiting minority students to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The recipients will be tasked with raising awareness about LGBT activists and scholars. In a news release, Guy-Sheftall, who is also founder of the Spelman Women’s Research and Resource Center, stated the program, “will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs.” One of the ways this will be accomplished is through lecture series that will bring a variety of scholars, activists and organizers to the campus, located near downtown Atlanta. Guy-Sheftall launched the scholars’ program and lecture series in May with a pledge of $100,000. The lecture series will explore contemporary issues of race, gender and sexuality.
Spelman is doing its part to make sure that LGBT students feel valued and accepted in a country where according to the American Council on Education is improving but not consistent as far as acceptance and tolerance on college campuses. The blog pointed out several key ways that colleges and universities can support their LGBT students:
- College should be an opportunity for LGBT students to explore their “sexuality and gender in privacy and safety” and learn about LGBT history.
- Colleges should make policies that protect LGBT students that go beyond state and national protections, which are sometimes non-existent.
- Colleges should keep consistent and comprehensive statistics on LGBT students.
President Mary Schmidt Campbell added that this scholarship is yet another example of the commitment Spelman has to honor each student’s unique undergrad experience:
“As an institution that upholds a supportive student experience, this gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements.”
The recipients will be named in the fall.
In what unique ways does your college/university support its LGBT students?