Classroom tips, resources provided in new LGBTQ guide

Faculty seeking to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for their LGBTQ colleagues and students have a new resource guide available to them.

Issued last week by the Provost’s Office of Faculty Development and Diversity and the Cornell LGBT Resource Center, the LGBTQ+ Resource Guide for Faculty and Staff offers best practices and tips, such as using gender-inclusive greetings in meetings and classrooms, integrating LGBTQ issues into curricula and hiring, or including statements in course syllabi and other gatherings that stimulate discussion and ensure civil discourse.

“Compassion, a sense of humor and the creation of a brave space and an open and generous attitude are really what our students want from us. And really that’s all we want from each other,” said Sara Warner, associate professor in the Department of Performing and Media Arts, and director of the LGBT studies program, in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Warner joined Ezra Young, visiting assistant professor at Cornell Law School, in a March 22 Zoom program for faculty and academic staff, “Embracing LGBTQ Colleagues and Staff.” Also participating in the program were Cortney Johnson, director, and Crissi Dalfonzo, assistant director of the LGBT Resource Center.

“As the only trans professor at just about any law school, the second it was announced I would come to Cornell a year ago, I was inundated with staff and student asks not to just to welcome me but for literal help to work through issues,” Young said.

The 11-page document includes a timeline showing LGBTQ history at Cornell since 1968, along with resources both on- and off-campus. It includes instructions on how faculty and staff can change their pronouns, gender marker and primary name in Workday. 

While it was once common to ask students to share their pronouns, the guide and panelists suggested other ways to offer students and colleagues the opportunity to share confidentially.

“Some students want professors to ask about pronouns, but others may feel pressured to divulge information status that they are uncomfortable sharing,” Warner said. “It can feel like a mandate. I don’t ask in public, but it can be helpful to create a ‘What should I know about you’ worksheet or online poll for students.”

The guide lists employee benefits, including gender-affirming health care opportunities, as well as a glossary of terms related to the LGBTQ community.

“We recognize that language evolves over time. The guide will be updated to better depict situations and experiences,” said Yael Levitte, associate vice provost for faculty development and diversity.

A recording of the March 22 program is available. For more information, contact ofdd@cornell.edu.

Lori Sonken is the communication and program manager for the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity.

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Jeffrey Martin