September 22, 2003

LGBT commission focuses on sensitivity


By Eric Rangus


The goal for this year’s President’s Commission on LGBT Concerns, Chair Jeff Martin announced at its first meeting, Sept. 16 in 400 Administration, is to improve LGBT sensitivity on campus.

Martin said he had met the previous week with President Jim Wagner, who encouraged him to outline an overarching goal for the academic year—something concrete toward which the commission could work.

Although loosely defined by design, Martin said, “Improving LGBT Sensitivity,” includes several specific points. Such as: establishing a liaison with Human Resources (HR); working with HR and the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs on further incorporating LGBT-friendly language on University forms and websites; encouraging Emory to inquire about its contractors and contracted companies’ policies on LGBT issues and support; bridging the communications gap among campus LGBT organizations; and serving as an adviser on LGBT issues to Wagner as needed.

Seemingly on cue, Wagner stepped in and spoke briefly on the importance of the commissions, adding that several people had asked him if he would eliminate them.

“I am fully aware that I am a middle-aged, white, heterosexual male,” Wagner said. “The best I can do is intellectually get in touch with minorities, women and LGBT persons. But I can’t feel it in here,” he said, placing his hand on his heart.

“That’s why it’s important to have groups of people who are sensitive to those issues and who will drive an agenda on them,” he continued.

After Wagner spoke, the commission voted to create the position of HR liaison—someone who would establish a dialogue between the commission and HR—and suggested asking HR Vice President Alice Miller about appointing a liaison on HR’s end, as well.

In committee reports, nomination and outreach chair Nathan Woodling said the commission has signed up for the Oct. 19 AIDS Walk and can serve as the umbrella group for Emory’s LGBT community. The committee also is looking into future service activities and partnerships.

LGBT studies chair Bill Gilders said the effort to discuss an LGBT studies curriculum in Emory College has begun. Gilders said Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion (and former LGBT chair) Mark Jordan has met with College Dean Bobby Paul, and Jordan was asked to form an ad hoc committee to create a proposal. Gilders said the commission could serve as a consultant to that ad hoc committee.

The next LGBT meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 21, in 400 Administration.

If you have a question or concern for LGBT, e-mail Jeff Martin at