Celebrating Pride Month

Progress Pride Flag hanging from a building

With the start of June, which is Pride Month, we reaffirm our support of UC Santa Cruz’s LGBTQIA+ community, and the push to build an inclusive, and more equitable world, where all are respected, treated equally, and provided equal opportunities regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Pride Month recognizes the impact that LGBTQIA+ individuals have had on equality and civil rights locally, statewide, nationally, and globally. It aims to increase the awareness of and eliminate violence toward LGBTQIA+ people. Pride’s origin dates back more than a half-century with protests led largely by transgender women of color who confronted discrimination and police brutality.

There is a clear throughline of Pride's origin in protesting discrimination and police violence to today’s urgent demands for equality and equity, and protection for communities of color. We stand in solidarity with these communities and their intersectional fight for justice.

Throughout this month we will be releasing stories on our campus newscenter that focus on our students who have been doing research and advocacy in this area. We will also be highlighting the new University of California policy, announced this past fall, on gender recognition and lived names. University information systems now offer at least three equally recognized gender options: woman, man, and nonbinary. Also, any individual entering into an academic or employment relationship with the University of California is permitted to indicate a lived name, to be used in the University of California system in all settings and situations that do not require a person's legal name. This policy has a three-year implementation period, and we expect to be fully compliant by Dec. 31, 2023.

Our commitment to protect the fundamental rights of the LGBTQIA+ community is crucial as we see an increase in state measures that seek to roll back basic human rights, many targeting transgender people. Thirty-plus states have introduced more than 100 bills that aim to curb the rights of trans people, with LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups calling 2021 an unfortunate, record-breaking year for such legislation. We stand opposed to all these efforts to restrict basic human rights.

The bills and the message they send have devastating consequences. One study estimates that LGBTQIA+ individuals comprise up to 40 percent of the total unaccompanied homeless youth population. Nationally and internationally, countless numbers of people are threatened and sometimes killed for being or perceived as being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. It was just five years ago this month that a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that police labeled a hate crime.

These and other discriminatory and violent actions against the LGBTQIA+ community show the threat members of this community face daily. We must be vocal in our support.

We are proud that our Lionel Cantú Queer Center has a strong, visible presence on campus, working tirelessly to connect, retain, and sustain queer and trans students, staff, faculty, and alumni. The center provides vital programming, workshops, and critical dialogues that challenge cisheteronormative understandings of gender and sexuality, and it celebrates LGBTQIA+ community members. Students can reach out to the center if they are in need of emergency funds, or even gender-affirming clothing like chest binders, and the Cantú will connect them with support. Later this month, the center is holding UCSC’s 23rd annual Lavender Graduation, a celebration for graduating queer and trans Slugs and their loved ones.

Our LGBTQIA+ community has worked hard throughout the history of the campus to develop a truly inclusive living and learning environment. Together, we will and must support one another, continue to advance our mission of access and education that benefits all individuals, and cultivate a workplace where everyone can thrive.