Students can self-identify through the LSAC portal, and we send these students emails through our LGBTQ+ student organization, OUTLaw. The intention of these emails is to let students know that OUTLaw exists as a student organization at Miami Law and is available to them as a resource. Our law school hosts online chats or phone conferences for admitted students through OUTLaw, when possible. In addition, we also connect new and prospective students to supportive LGBTQ+ administrators, faculty, and staff to answer questions and serve as a resource. During our scholarship weekend and other prospective or admitted student events, our Recruitment team will specifically seek out LGBTQ+ faculty and administrative staff to speak to LGBTQ+ admitted or prospective students to ensure that these students know as much information as possible about our very supportive and inclusive culture, and are able to create connections early on with supportive faculty and staff they can then easily reach out to once they come to the Law School.
Specific written materials are not sent to admitted students for any student affinity organization, including OUTLaw. However, information about our various student organizations is available to all admitted students on our website. Student organizations, including OUTLaw, do often send letters to admitted students to welcome them to the campus. In addition, we have a student organization fair for admitted students, and we make sure that affinity organizations, including OUTLaw, are always represented. If there are any student panels for admitted students, we make sure that students of differing backgrounds, including those who identify as LGBTQ+, are represented.
Whether to allow students the ability to self-identify as LGBTQ+ in the admissions process has been and is currently a topic of discussion within our law school. Our principal concern with creating a self-identifying process has been whether students will feel comfortable self-identifying. We would not want to create a situation where students are concerned about self-identifying for fear that they will be singled out or targeted for having done so. However, we also understand that there are legitimate reasons students may want to self-identify as LGBTQ+. This discussion is ongoing, and it is quite possible that we will implement a self-identification process in the future.
See attached policy: http://lgbtbar.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/sites/8/2020/05/preferredname.pdf
The Marc A. Fajer Scholarship Fund at the University of Miami School of Law. See attached policy: http://lgbtbar.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/sites/8/2020/05/scholarship.pdf
We are very committed to diversity and inclusion (as reflected by the diversity of our current administrators, faculty, and staff). The diversity of an applicant’s background (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+, etc.) is something that we take into account in hiring new administrators, faculty, and staff. For example, the first administrative hire of Dean Varona’s deanship, which began on August 1, 2019, was of a woman who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Regarding question 15, the University decides at a central level the types of employee benefits that will be provided to its employees. The Law School participates in these benefits as a unit of the University.
Regarding question 15a, The University requirement is legal marriage. Prior to the Obergefell decision, the University provided benefits to domestic partners.
Regarding question 17, as with employee benefits, the University decides centrally the types of benefits available to students.
If students are covered under the student health plan. Only spouses qualify, not domestic partners. See attached policy for Gender Identity Disorder/Gender Dysphoria Treatment under the University of Miami Student Health Plan: http://lgbtbar.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/sites/8/2020/05/student-health-plan.pdf
We confirmed that the on-campus health care providers are trained to ensure they can provide culturally and clinically competent care to LGBTQ+ patients, including transgender and non-binary patients. We also have a specific unit that provides gender-affirming transitional surgery at the University of Miami Hospital, including the following: A Transgender Support Group, Gender-Affirming Treatment, and Student Health Services provides Transgender Care.
We have four single-stall restrooms with signage that says, “Gender neutral restroom.” Each restroom is accessible to people who have disabilities. The signs are located in the following areas: Law Library, 1st Floor – 2 restrooms (G Building rooms G172 and G173); Law Library, 3rd Floor – B311; and Building A – 2nd Floor – A213
The University of Miami undergraduate campus has a gender neutral and gender inclusive restroom policy. The policy provides maps to the gender neutral and gender inclusive restrooms on the Coral Gables campus and states, “The University of Miami is dedicated to providing people of all abilities, gender identities and expressions, a safe and comfortable environment.” Our law school, which is located at the Coral Gables campus, has adopted the undergraduate campus’s policy on gender neutral and gender inclusive restrooms and has created the four gender neutral bathrooms listed above. Each of these bathrooms is listed on the campus map for gender neutral and inclusive restrooms.
Additionally, we had asked the University to convert a multi-stall bathroom in one of our academic buildings into a gender neutral/inclusive bathroom. Unfortunately, we have been stalled in this effort by an antiquated Florida Plumbing Code that requires very specific ratios of all male and all female bathrooms in public accommodations. We have identified a group of students in OUTlaw who are interested in working to change the code, and we have also identified an LGBTQ+ professor who will work with the students and supervise the work.
We have offered LGBTQ+ specific courses in the past, including a semester long series on marriage equality, available to students for credit or audit and open to the community in general, when that issue was hotly contested. In the last academic year, Professor Joseph Tringali, has taught courses at Miami Law in Sexuality, Gender Identity and the Law, and Legal Advocacy and Same Sex Marriage.
In addition to these specific courses, many professors include LGBTQ+ content in their course materials. There are many examples, but two examples are as follows: Trusts and Estates and Constitutional Law II.
We send three students from OUTLaw to Lavender Law every year through funding from our Law Activity Fee Allocation Committee (LAFAC). For the last several years, we have had great success in having students obtain jobs from the Lavender Law conference. In addition, through our very active LGBTQ alumni network, lawyers and law firms have sponsored additional students to attend Lavender Law. Plus, two years ago, a very active OUTlaw president, working with our Alumni & Development Office, created a special fund to generate even more funding to send additional students to Lavender Law.
Each year for the last several years, OUTLaw has invited The YES Institute, a non-profit organization that provides education on gender identity and sexual orientation locally, nationally, and internationally. This training is not mandatory, but any member of the student body, faculty, administration, or staff has the option to attend. In the past, OUTLaw has had students, faculty, administrators, and staff attend this training.
Our law school is and historically has been deeply committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and administrators. The law school’s efforts to create a friendly and open environment for the LGBTQ+ community became more focused in the 1980s with the arrival of Professor Marc A. Fajer. Professor Fajer joined our faculty in 1988 and served as the faculty advisor to the Gay People’s Alliance. The Gay People’s Alliance was the predecessor to our current OUTLaw, the LGBTQ+ student organization at the University of Miami School of Law. Professor Fajer served as the advisor to OUTLaw for many years before recently handing the mantle to other members of the faculty. When he joined the faculty in 1988, Professor Fajer wrote an article in the law school’s student newspaper coming out openly as gay. He gave the article out to his students on the first day of classes to create a safe environment for students who identified as LGBTQ+. In the article, he states that, “I hope those of you who are not out will not be afraid to come and talk to me.”
At Miami Law, we are blessed to have many LGBTQ+ senior administrators and allies throughout all units and departments. Because the support for the LGBTQ+ community comes from the top, it is easier to have the warm and supportive environment for the LGBTQ+ community filter through to all parts of our campus. Prominent members of our Miami Law family identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community and have played key roles as advocates for the LGBTQ+ community at the national level. For example, Dean Anthony E. Varona is the first openly gay, Hispanic man to serve as the dean of Miami Law. Before entering full-time teaching, Dean Varona served as General Counsel and Legal Director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization. He has served on the board of directors for GLAAD, HRC, the Alliance for Justice, the New York Advisory Board for the American Constitution Society, and he was founding chairperson of the AIDS Action Legal Advisory Council. He currently sits on the Stonewall Museum board of directors and was a founding co-chair of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives National Advisory Council. Recently, Dean Varona attended the University of Miami School of Law’s Barrister’s Ball and danced with his husband, John, along with the students on the dance floor.
Another example is Dean Raquel Matas, who is the Associate Dean for Administration, Counsel to the Dean, and Acting Director of the Robert Traurig-Greenberg Traurig LL.M. in Real Property Development. Dean Matas identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and she has also played a pivotal role as an activist in the struggle for equality. After moving to Miami in 1983, Dean Matas worked with local gay and lesbian groups to raise awareness about LGBT issues. She participated in one of the first Lavender Law conferences and became a board member of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Dean Matas was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court Gender Bias Study Commission in 1987, and she was the first Hispanic woman and first out lesbian elected to the Florida Bar Board of Governors. Dean Matas has been actively involved with the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), served as National Chair of its LGBT Division for several years, and she has worked closely with the HNBA national leadership to raise awareness about LGBT issues that impact the Hispanic community. Dean Matas is actively involved with the Aqua Foundation for Women and has served on its Advisory Board. In 2018, Dean Matas was invited to participate in the Stanford University Graduate School of Business’s LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program. In addition to all that she does, Dean Matas also serves as one of the faculty advisors to OUTLaw, and is a member of the ABA’s Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity (SOGI) Commission.
Our OUTLaw group is one of the major affinity organizations on our campus and is extremely involved in campus life. OUTLaw hosts various events throughout the year to foster community for the LGBTQ+ community at Miami Law. Notable events include the OUTLaw Welcome Reception (hosted at both the beginning of the fall and spring semesters); the OUTLaw Mentorship Event (a mentorship event hosted at a large law firm each year and attended by LGBTQ+ practicing legal professionals); the Diversity-in-Law Panel (a panel of diverse legal professionals who speak about their experiences as members of different minority groups such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or gender identity and expression); and The YES Institute Event (a presentation designed to provide resources on gender identity and sexual orientation to students, faculty, administrators, and staff). This year, our OUTLaw student group also hosted an event called Celebrating the Queer and Trans Black Community.
We are also blessed with a vibrant and engaged LGBTQ+ alumni community whose members open their homes and offices to host events for our students and allies, serve as mentors, provide employment opportunities, serve as role models in many ways, and are local and national advocates and leaders. The list of prominent LGBTQ alumni is long, but two examples: Elizabeth Schwartz, who served as counsel on the victorious challenges to Florida’s marriage ban, and is the author of Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise; Richard Milstein, a renowned probate lawyer who has championed many LGBTQ causes over the years, and was the 2019 recipient of the Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor, among many other honors.
Our central University of Miami campus is also extremely supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. We have an LGBTQ+ Student Center on our main campus, which is open to all students including students from the School of Law. The LGBTQ+ Student Center hosts Miami Pride, and for the last several years our OUTLaw group has participated in Miami Pride and walked with the general University of Miami community in the Miami Pride Parade. The University of Miami undergraduate LGBTQ+ student group, SpectrUM, hosts a drag show, DragOUT, which is one of the biggest events on campus. Students from the School of Law have been invited and have attended this event for the past several years. Each year, the LGBTQ+ Student Center hosts a Lavender Celebration to celebrate the accomplishments of graduating LGBTQ+ students. OUTLaw members have been invited to this event and have participated for the past several years. Two previous OUTLaw Presidents have won the Danny Gomez Legacy Award at this event, which honors a graduate student who has made a substantial impact on the LGBTQ+ community at the University of Miami. In addition, many members of the School of Law are members of the Ibis Ally Network, including our Dean of Students, Janet Stearns. IBIS Allies are faculty and staff who are trained to be an integral part of the network dedicated to supporting our LGBTQIA+ community, regardless of their own sexual orientation or gender identity. As discussed throughout the survey, the University of Miami’s undergraduate campus has adopted a Preferred Name policy, a Non-Discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and a policy that allows for Gender Neutral and Gender Inclusive restrooms across campus.
These are only a few of the examples of how the University of Miami and the University of Miami School of Law have shown its deep commitment, over several decades, to creating a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment for the LGBTQ+ community.
-Regarding questions 7-14 of the Climate Survey, as in many other law schools, faculty and staff often serve in more than one role (i.e., administrators who also teach and faculty who also serve in administrative roles). To compute the data for questions 9-14, these individuals were counted separately in each role in which they serve. In other words, there are some people who were counted twice because they serve in more than one role within the law school (and, because they serve in more than one role, they end up being available to the LGBTQ+ community in multiple ways). While some individuals were counted twice, we remained internally consistent while calculating these numbers.
-OUTLaw is the student organization for the LGBTQ+ community. It has existed for at least three decades, and its formation was spearheaded by Professor Marc Fajer, one of the first out law professors to teach at Miami Law.