Penn’s LGBT Center, the second oldest LGBT Center in the country, was featured by Campus Pride during the Fall ’21 semester. Intern Ayla Azim, from Campus Pride, (she/her) interviewed Malik Muhammad (he/him), the Associate Director of the LGBT Center and Erin Cross (she/her), the Director of the LGBT Center to learn more about their work and advocacy on campus. In the interview, Malik and Erin highlight the programming provided by the center and share the ease with which students can get involved on campus in a variety of LGBTQ+ organizations.
The University of Pennsylvania has more than 25 student organizations are dedicated to LGBTQ+ life. These organizations include Penn J-Bagel, a Jewish LGBTQ+ group, the Lambda Alliance,umbrella group of undergraduate LGBTQ+ organizations, and oSTEM, a group for LGBTQ+ people in STEM fields.
The LGBT Center and the University of Pennsylvania are exceptionally proud of their efforts to make campus more inclusive. In the interview, Erin and Malik share that the foundation of their work stems from Penn’s non-discrimination policy, which includes sexual orientation, and gender identity. The creation of this policy has led to the development of health care plans that are available to students, faculty, and staff that include trans and gender affirming care. The creation of all gender housing and bathrooms across campus have also been major projects to increase comfort and inclusion. Students who go through the existing name process receive two diplomas; one with their legal/dead name and another with their name. Currently, the Center is partnering with the Office of the Registrar and others to enable students to designate their pronouns and name in campus systems. Students may also elect to receive multiple diplomas; one document with their legal/dead name and another with their chosen name. Currently, the center is partnering with the Office of the Registrar to make it easier for students to designate their preferred pronouns and preferred name on university documents.
Erin and Malik are excited to see the university grow in its inclusive practices and will continue advocating and improving ways in which the LGBTQ+ population is supported at Penn.