SMU Dedman School of Law

1. Does your law school intentionally seek out LGBTQ+ prospective students?
Yes
a. If so, how and where are your efforts directed?

The law school admissions office seeks out students from all backgrounds including LGBTQ+ in its recruitment efforts.  Specifically, we utilize the resources provided by LSAC (candidate referral service and law school forums), as well as traditional recruitment methods such as attending on-campus recruitment fairs. Additionally, LGBTQ+ faculty reach out to admitted students to answer any questions about climate.

2. Does your law school's welcome packet for admitted students include mention of identity group support for LGBTQ+ students, as well as for students of color or other minorities?
Yes

We provide access to and information about affinity groups for race/ethnicity and LGBTQ+ status on our comprehensive admitted students website. Further, we enlist students and alumni from the different affinity groups to reach out specifically to our LGBTQ+ admits and admits of color.

3. Does your school offer students the option to self-identify as LGBTQ+ in admissions applications or post-enrollment forms?
No

We do not ask this question because this information is provided to all law schools (standard) via LSAC’s flex app.

4. Does your law school offer transgender students who have not legally changed their names the ability to have their name of choice on admission applications or post enrollment forms?
Yes

The law school’s application provides students the opportunity to provide their preferred names. Preferred names are used throughout the admissions process and during new student orientation. The university’s student portal similarly provides an opportunity for students to choose the name they want to use at school, and the name students enter into the portal is the name that is given to professors on class rosters.

5. Does your law school provide any annual scholarships specifically for LGBTQ+ students?
No

While the law school does not have any annual scholarships specifically for LGBTQ+ students, we offer generous scholarships to over 90% of our incoming students and utilize a holistic approach in making these awards. We take into consideration each applicant’s diverse viewpoint, including sexuality/LGBTQ+ status should they choose to share that information with the Admissions Committee, via our optional diversity statement.

The Austin Bar Foundation and the Austin LGBT Bar Association started a scholarship program for current law students in 2016.  https://www.austinbar.org/austin-bar-foundation-lgbt-law-student-scholarship/ 

6. Does your law school provide funding, including travel support, for LGBTQ+ students to participate in LGBTQ+-focused learning and career services opportunities?
Yes
a. If so, please provide details and examples of when and how those opportunities have been utilized.

OUTLaw is the law school’s LGBTQ+ student organization. It receives funds each year that can be used for a variety of purposes, including sending officers to conferences. They have not utilized their budget for this purpose in recent years, instead choosing to use the funds for on-campus activities for the entire organization.

The law school provides funding for career services and diversity events that explicitly address career issues relevant to LGBTQ+ students and feature LGBTQ+ speakers.

7. Does your law school actively seek to employ diverse staff/faculty/administrators, including visible, out LGBTQ+ individuals?
Yes
a. If so, please detail how and where recruitment efforts are directed

The law school is deeply committed to employing a diverse staff and faculty. In addition to advertising open positions through standard HR channels, we seek out and advertise on listservs and job boards of minority organizations. We believe having a diverse staff and faculty will help us better serve all students, and diversity is always a consideration in making hiring decisions.

8. Please identify, to your knowledge, how many out LGBTQ+ faculty your law school employs (if any)
1
Gay
1
9. Please identify, to your knowledge, how many out LGBTQ+ staff/administrators?
2
Gay
2
10. Does your law school provide benefits such as health insurance, family medical leave, parental leave, and nontraditional family planning such as in vitro fertilization and/or adoptive benefits on equal terms to same-sex couples who are married or in registered domestic partnerships as are provided to different-sex married or registered domestic partner couples?
Yes
a. If so, please summarize or reproduce your policy here

SMU provides the same benefits to married couples regardless of sexual orientation. SMU medical plans do not cover in-vitro fertilization. SMU does not provide a monetary adoption benefit but does provide adoption leave.

11. Does your law school offer the aforementioned health benefits to students and their same-sex spouses/partners?
Yes
a. If so, please summarize or reproduce your policy here

The law school and university offer health benefits to students and their same-sex spouses and domestic partners. The student medical plan does not cover in-vitro fertilization.

12. Does your law school offer transition-related health benefits to transgender and/or transitioning employees?
Yes
a. If so, please summarize or reproduce your policy here

Transition-related healthcare is covered by the employee medical plan if deemed medically necessary.

13. Does your school offer the same transition-related healthcare benefits to students and their partners/spouses?
Yes
a. If so, please summarize or reproduce your policy here (or you may email a copy of your policy to rishell@lgbtbar.org):

Transition-related healthcare is covered by the student medical plan if deemed medically necessary.

14. Do all students at your law school have access to counseling and/or therapy services either through the law school or the larger University?
Yes

SMU Counseling Services and the Health Center are open to all students.  The Counseling Services Office is sponsoring a new LGBTQ+ Support Group in Spring 2019.

SMU also has a Women & LGBT Center which is open to all SMU students https://www.smu.edu/studentaffairs/womenandlgbtcenter.  The Center has an Allies program, hosts an LGBT Equality Forum, and sponsors a number of programs, workshops, and other educational opportunities through a Panel and Speaker’s Bureau Program

15. Does your law school provide at least bi-annual mandatory diversity and inclusion training that incorporates robust LGBTQ+ curriculum, for all staff/faculty/administrators?
No

The law school does not mandate bi-annual diversity and inclusion training, but it does hold periodic trainings on the subject as does the university’s HR department. All law school faculty and staff are required to attend the law school sessions and encouraged to attend the HR trainings.

Staff are encouraged to attend conferences on topics relevant to their work in the law school, including diversity and inclusion conferences. Two members of the staff, the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and the Assistant Director for Diversity Recruiting, attended the LSAC Equality Conference in Orlando, FL in December 2018. The Equality Conference was designed to educate law school administrators on best practices for welcoming LGBTQ+ students to law school.

16. Does your law school provide a gender-inclusive restroom in any and/or all law school buildings?
Yes
a. How is that restroom identified (i.e., what does the signage say, is it identified on building maps, is there a gender-inclusive restroom policy that applies to all restrooms and where is that statement published, etc.)?

The law school has two restrooms that are available for all genders – one in the classroom building and one in the library. They are marked with signs noting that they are accessible restrooms and are available to all genders.

17. Does your law school have one or more annual LGBTQ+ course offerings (e.g., LGBT Law and Policy, Sexual Orientation and the Law, Gender and the Law (taught with trans-inclusive and focused materials), etc.)?
Yes
a. If so, please list course names

Yes. SMU Dedman School of Law offers a course called LGBT Rights and the Law. We also offer a Gender Law course, which covers some transgender issues.

18. Does your law school have an active, visible LGBTQ+ law student group that is supported by the institution?
Yes

SMU Dedman School of Law’s LGBTQ+ law student group is called OUTLaw. OUTLaw is an active student group for LGBT students and allies. It sponsors many events throughout the year, including guest speakers, advocacy work, and social gatherings. They are advised by two tenured faculty members with expertise in areas related to LGBT law.

19. Does your law school have a hate/bias incident policy that students are required to follow?
Yes
a. If so, does that process specifically identify sexual orientation, gender identity, or both as protected categories?

The university has a bias incident policy and it includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as protected categories.

In addition, the law school’s Student Code of Professional Responsibility applies. It states, “[a] student shall not engage in any act that materially disrupts a class, meeting or other function of the Law School so as to interfere unreasonably with the rights of other students in the pursuit of their education….Purposefully engaging in racial, ethnic, religious or sexual harassment of a student interferes with the rights of that student; accordingly, such conduct violates this code.”

b. is there a clear hate bias/incident reporting process for students/faculty/staff to utilize if necessary?
Yes
20. Please describe all additional ways, not identified through your responses, that your law school works to be safe, inclusive, and welcoming to LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and administrators:

The Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and the Assistant Director for Diversity Recruiting both attended the LSAC Equality Conference in Orlando, FL in December 2018. The Equality Conference was designed to educate law school administrators on best practices for welcoming LGBTQ+ students to law school.  In an effort to help students locate and navigate the resources available to LGBTQ+ students and allies at SMU Dedman School of Law, these resources are listed in the law school’s student resources materials. The law school hosts social events for our LGBTQ+ students such as happy hours and a Thanksgiving potluck dinner hosted by a professor and attended by the Dean.