Gail Hairston

LGBT Task Force Created

Published: Sep 21, 2011


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2011) -- The University of Kentucky's Office for Institutional Diversity has established the LGBT Task Force , a new effort to promote an inclusive environment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the campus community. One of the task force's first actions is co-sponsoring The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Equality Tour to the University of Kentucky Sept. 22, to inspire and engage the campus in conversations about LGBT equality.


The work of the new UK LGBT Task Force includes making ongoing assessments of attitudes and conditions throughout the university regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and issues. The group also makes recommendations for changes and seeks implementation of these recommendations on issues such as (1) the universitywide environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, staff and faculty; (2) appropriate supportive services for such students, staff and faculty; (3) educational programs for the entire university community; and (4) other matters affecting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campus community members.


"As UK continues its march toward becoming a Top 20 public research institution, it's only natural that we take further steps toward providing a more diverse and inclusive culture in which our students can learn. The LGBT Task Force is one such step," said Eric Morrow, task force chair.  "While our focus obviously is supporting the LGBT members of our UK family, we are also serving the entire campus community. As an institution of higher education, our duty is to prepare all of our students for the diverse workforce they will enter. If one student leaves our campus without ever having engaged in conversation about LGBT issues, we have not fulfilled that duty to its fullest potential."


The goal of the Human Rights Campaign Equality Tour is similar to that of the UK LGBT Task Force — to empower people to bring about change for themselves, their families and communities. The Lexington stop on the Equality Tour is also supported by LGBT student groups, the Gay Lesbian Service Organization and others.


The On the Road to Equality motor coach will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center Addition Parking Lot Thursday, Sept. 22. The bus will be accompanied by an exhibit offering primers that will engage and empower tour participants on seven basic topics: family, health, rights, community, faith, workplace and an opportunity for participants to record and share their personal story.


“The HRC Equality Tour was designed to educate and empower LGBT people and supporters across America, so they can stand proud and join the fight for equality wherever they live. Individuals should leave the tour feeling that they have the information they need to be an advocate and empowered and inspired to do so,” said Tricia Benson, HRC director of foundation relations, referring to the 13-week, 20-city tour that started in Salt Lake City and will end in Orlando, Florida.


The HRC Equality Tour will also present two workshops:   


·        Campus Equality: The Case for Creating Safer Spaces for LGBT Students, Faculty and Staff

Featuring Deena Fidas, deputy director of Workplace Project

Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday

Worsham Theatre in the Student Center Addition


·        A Faithful Dialogue: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Religious Communities

6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday

106 White Hall Classroom Building



Sally Evans, volunteer and educational programs coordinator for UK's Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Center and member of the UK LGBT Task Force said that UK must be committed to prepare the next generation to succeed in inclusive environments where prejudice and bias are not tolerated. “We live at a time when the issue of human rights for gay, lesbian and transgendered people is making progress in political arenas, faith communities, the workplace, family life and educational institutions. UK is no exception.”


“Beyond previous efforts such as the President’s Commission on Diversity, this task force makes a clear statement that UK is a place striving to be inclusive and diverse, and safe for all persons to work and learn and contribute,” said Mary Bolin, director of the UK Counseling Center and task force member.


William Adams with the Office for Institutional Diversity also serves on the LGBT Task Force.  “As the state’s flagship university, it is our charge to provide students a safe haven to learn not only about their field of study, but about themselves and their place in this global society. When people can be who they truly are, and venture forth without feeling societal bonds, there is nothing they can't accomplish.”


The LGBT Task Force members include:


Eric Morrow (Chair) -- program coordinator, Program for Bioethics

Steven Oliver -- assistant vice president, Office for Institutional Diversity

Jeff Jones -- assistant professor, Public Health

Mel Lesch -- resident director, Residence Life

Ellen Riggle -- professor, Gender & Women's Studies and Political Science

Mary Bolin -- director and psychologist, Counseling Center

Carol Taylor -- program director, Comprehensive Family Services, Social Work Training Resource Center

Susan Matthews -- senior staff psychologist and group therapy coordinator, Counseling Center

Sally Evans -- volunteer and educational programs coordinator, VIP Center

William Adams -- IS technical support, Office for Institutional Diversity

Sharon Rostosky -- professor, Counseling Psychology

Matthew Waitkus -- academic advisor, Business & Economics

Wanda McCants -- graduate student, Counseling Psychology

K.J. Rawson -- lecturer, Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

Christopher Garnett -- medical student

Brandy Reeves -- health education coordinator, University Health Service


For more information about the UK LGBT Task Force, please contact Chair Eric Morrow at or Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity Steven Oliver at


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