Vanderbilt Law School seeks to enroll a student body that is broadly diverse in multiple dimensions, including LGBTQ+ students. Our efforts are reflected in our commitment to diversity as an essential component of our educational goals; our commitment to diversity in the admission process; and recruiting strategies that promote student diversity.
Both Vanderbilt Law School and Vanderbilt University view learning within a diverse student body as an essential component of our educational and co-curricular goals. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life at Vanderbilt University* is a cultural center and a place of affirmation for individuals of all identities, and a resource for information and support about gender and sexuality. The Law School Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council’s goal is to create and foster an academic environment where every student feels comfortable and welcome, and to serve as a voice for the minority community at VLS. The VLS student organization OUTLaw utilizes the collective resources of its members to develop the role of the LGBTQQIAA attorney within the greater legal structure and influence meaningful change by promoting a more informed awareness of the needs of the LGBTQQIAA community. OUTLaw has a representative on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council referenced above.
We are committed to diversity in the admission process, and we believe that full-file review is central to the objective of assembling talented students with a broad mix of backgrounds, perspectives and goals that promotes a vibrant and beneficial educational environment. To that end, we explicitly welcome open-ended Diversity Statements that describe any aspect of the applicant’s background or experience that the applicant would like to provide for consideration.
Our student recruiting strategies promote diversity. The Vanderbilt Law Ambassadors is a student organization that is dedicated to the recruitment of future students and its volunteer membership fully reflects the diversity of the VLS student body. The Ambassadors’ involvement with our on-campus Admitted Students Programs and their direct personal outreach to admitted students are key components of enrolling a diverse student body each admission cycle. The Law School Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council hosts a Diversity Breakfast during each on-campus Admitted Students Program. These students-only events foster open dialogue about diversity and inclusion between current students and admitted applicants.
The materials we provide to admitted applicants include mention of identity group support for LGBTQ+ students and others.*
- Vanderbilt Law Law School Identity Student Organizations
- Law School Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council
- Asian-Pacific American Law Student Association
- Black Law Students Association
- Jewish Law Students Association
- La Alianza
- Law Students for Veterans Affairs
- Middle Eastern Law Student Association
- South Asian Law Students Association
- Women Law Students Association
Vanderbilt University Resources
- Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center
- International Student and Scholar Services
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life
- Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center
- Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services
- Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Office for Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence
- Office of Religious Life
- University Counseling Center
Local and National Resources for Diverse Law Students
- ABA Minority Law Student Resources
- Napier-Looby Bar Association
- Tennessee Stonewall Bar Association
- Nashville Bar Association Diversity Committee
The Career Services Office annually participates in and pays entry fees for the Lavender Law Job Fair. As with all students, if interviews are scheduled, the school will pay up to $400 toward travel and lodging expenses. All students are encouraged to participate in minority job fairs if appropriate, and entry fees are paid for those, including LGBTQ students. Each year students take advantage of this school support.
Vanderbilt University includes gender identity and gender expression in its Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy* (under “Equal Opportunity”) against discrimination. Due diligence is required in candidate screening, testing tools, interview questions, etc. which includes review and approval of hiring tools by HR, EEOC, Affirmative Action and Disability Office, and any other related centralized university compliance office.
Vanderbilt University’s Non-Discrimination Policy** reads as follows:
“Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their gender expression consistent with the University’s nondiscrimination policy.”
Links to policies:
- Benefits Eligibility: https://hr.vanderbilt.edu/benefits/eligibility.php
- FMLA & TMLA Leave: https://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/fmla.php
- Parental Leave: https://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/ParentalLeave.php
- Adoption Assistance: https://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/adoption-assistance.php
- Recruitment, Hiring and Onboarding: https://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/recruitment-hiring-onboarding.php
- Equal Opportunity: https://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/equal-opportunity.php
There is also a VU Medical Center Program (VUMC) in LGBTQ health available. VUMC has been recognized as a leader in LGBT healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). VUMC is one of only four hospitals in Tennessee with such a distinction. The Program for LGBTQ Health within the Office for Diversity in Medical education provides training at the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and numerous departments in relation to LGBTQ medical concerns. The program also coordinates the Trans Buddy Program and referrals to LGBTQ competent providers, as well as VUMC’s Transgender Health Clinic.
Student spousal insurance and benefit coverage options are identical for same-sex and different-sex couples. Insurance is not available to domestic partners (same-sex or different-sex). Additionally, certain spousal privileges (not including health insurance) are extended to same-sex domestic partners of international students whose countries prohibit same-sex marriage.
Covered expenses under health plan provided by Aetna include charges in connection with a medically necessary Gender Reassignment Surgery as long you or a covered dependent have obtained precertification from Aetna. Vanderbilt has also opted into Navitus’ (pharmacy prescription plan) requirements and benefits regarding hormone therapy, subject to requirements outlined by Navitus.
Vanderbilt’s Student Health Insurance Health Policy covers transition-related expenses, and some related services (such as hormone therapy) are administered in-house at the Student Health Center. Certain medical procedures require a demonstration of medical necessity, but the Student Health Center actively works with students to provide documentation supporting these claims. This same insurance policy is available to all student spouses who opt-in. Vanderbilt’s Student Health Insurance Policy is not available to domestic partners (same-sex or different-sex).
All law students have access to a robust set of student support resources managed by our Office of Student Care Coordination. OSCC referrals include a holistic and customized support plan for each individual student, which often include counseling through the University Counseling Center. Additionally, the University Counseling Center provides drop-in satellite counseling services across campus (available to all students) and walk-in triage counseling at the UCC. The Law School regularly provides drop-in counseling hours inside the building as part of the satellite services. In addition to this, a Project Safe, the campus resources for students impacted by sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and more, has weekly drop-in counseling at the law school.
Vanderbilt Law School provides mandatory diversity and inclusion training that incorporates a robust LGBTQ+ curriculum for all incoming 1L’s. This year, we provided this same training opportunity to all administrators, the majority of whom were able to attend. The University provides faculty and staff with numerous diversity-related professional development opportunities on campus, but these are not currently mandatory.
Vanderbilt University, Dean of Students Office maintains and publishes an “All Gender Bathrooms” listing, which includes the building, floor, room number, as well as ADA accessibility indication. The Law School has a dedicated gender-inclusive restroom that is ADA accessible. It is identified with signage labeled, “All Gender Restroom”.
While the law school does not currently offer one or more annual LGBTQ+ course offerings, numerous courses throughout the curriculum address law topics relevant to issues that LGBTQ+ people may face, such as discrimination, equal opportunity, government regulation, human rights, family law, health law and others. In concert with the course curriculum, the George Barrett Social Justice Program* promotes an atmosphere in which issues of equality, access and service are openly and regularly explored by faculty and students inside and outside the classroom.
Independent studies** allow students to develop and complete their own projects under faculty supervision, and students may choose and design externships for academic credit*** that are tailored to their individual goals and interests. In addition, law students in their second or third year may transfer up to six graduate course credits from other Vanderbilt graduate/professional schools or ABA-accredited law schools toward their J.D. degree program if approved by the assistant dean for academic life.
Vanderbilt’s OUTLaw group is very active and is an integral part of our student community. They receive significant financial support from the law school and University and work closely with the Law School Office of Student Affairs.
The policy is University-wide and specifically identifies both sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. Vanderbilt’s nondiscrimination policy applies to all members of the community, including students. Specific information can be found here: https://vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/university-policies-and-regulations/#equal-opportunity
During the 2017-18 academic year, Vanderbilt Law School formed a student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion working group. After a year of productive listening, exploration, and implementation of new programming and trainings, we transitioned this working group into a formal Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council on which an OUTLaw representative sits. This body has a directly line of communication to the administration regarding diversity and inclusion matters.
Additionally, the Law School works closely with the University’s Vice Chancellor for EDI and Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence. Both the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs are part of the Vice Provost’s Diversity Delegates group, which regularly meets to discuss issues related to inclusion on campus, including those specifically impacting LGBTQ+ students and faculty.