New BU Out List Promotes Visibility and Connectedness among LGBTQIA+ Community

Originally posted on April 30, 2021 by the School of Public Health 

By Mallory Bersi

Thomas Lee, Jr. (SPH’19), academic program administrator in the Department of Global Health, and 4+1 MPH student Christian Paredes are co-chairing a committee that has developed a university-wide Out List to promote visibility, connectedness, and sharing of resources among LGBTQIA+ members of the Boston University community.

Last summer, inspired by the current BU Medical Campus Out and Ally List, Paredes, who is a member of Q, BU’s Queer Activist Collective, and other Q members reached out to the LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Community Network about creating a university-wide platform for students to connect with and learn more about queer faculty and staff at BU.

Lee, who is vice-chair of the LGBTQIA+ Network, says that the combined excitement from students and the findings from a 2019 report from the BU LGBTQIA+ Task Force that showed that the LGBTQIA+ community on BU campuses was largely hidden pushed the LGBTQIA+ Network to convene a committee made up of ten BU faculty, staff, and undergraduate students to address these issues. From the School of Public Health, Lawrence Long, research assistant professor of global health, is one of the faculty members on the committee.

The committee met with the founders of the original Medical Campus list and researched examples of similar lists created at other universities to assess what would best fit the needs of the BU community. As the student chair of the committee, Paredes also gathered input from students around BU on what they would like to see from the Out List to ensure a student perspective was included throughout the development process.

After over seven months of planning and development, the BU Out List officially launched on April 29 under BU Diversity & Inclusion.

“The Out List is a way to validate who people are and create a more affirming campus,” says Lee. “It lets people know they are not alone and that there is a rich LGBTQIA+ community here at BU and we are here to support them.”

Paredes says that during his first few years at BU, he stumbled upon and connected with a few queer faculty members who had a significant impact on his experience at BU. “Having something like the Out List would have made finding and making these connections much easier,” he says. “I am excited that other students will be able to easily find LGBTQIA+ professors and staff members to help them in their journeys at BU and build a sense of inclusion at the University.”

Designed as a community-building tool, the Out List is a centralized hub of information. The homepage for the website that houses the List is open to the public and provides information about the LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Community Network, as well as a range of resources for the LGBTQIA+ community on campus.

“We want to make sure that if prospective students or hires find our site, they know that BU is a queer-friendly university and there are a number of resources available to them here,” says Lee.

The Out List, which is only accessible with a Kerberos password, is made up of faculty and staff profiles. Those who make a profile are able to self-identify and disclose whatever information they are comfortable with, including gender identity, sexual orientation, whether they were a first-generation student, racial and ethnic identities, religion, and more. The profiles also include a bio, which can include any additional information, such as their research and other work at BU, as well as how they are available to help students who explore the Out List for guidance, which can include anything from academic support and career mentoring to advice on coming out and general networking.

With this wide range of resources available on the site, Lee says that although students are not able to make profiles directly, they can use the website in a multitude of ways.

“It is really important to have this centralized resource for students,” says Paredes. “Especially since college is a time of transition and exploration for many young people.”

Future plans for the Out List include expanding the resources on the website to have a list of courses that are taught by LGBTQIA+ faculty each semester, as well as a section highlighting research being conducted by LGBTQIA+ faculty and staff. They also plan to create a calendar for a central location of all LGBTQIA+-themed events and activities across the University.

Lee also says that the committee that developed the list has renamed itself as “the visibility committee” and will continue to meet to discuss ways to expand the Out List and raise the visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community around BU.

“Whether folks identify as LGBTQIA+ already, are exploring their identity, or are our allies, this really is a resource for everybody to use,” says Lee. “We are excited to bring more visibility to our community and fill a gap that has existed at the University for a long time.”

If you would like to make a profile on the BU Out List, you can do so here.