Gay? Fine by BU Law**

Law school is about inspiration. You may spend countless hours in the library, more hours in classes, probably more hours in meetings and other networking functions, but ultimately you need to find your own motivation to persevere. Last fall, I was fortunate enough to serve as Treasurer for BU Law’s LGBTQ group, OutLaw. OutLaw has a rich history of social and political activism, and a diverse and active alumni network. One of the many reasons I chose to attend BU Law was based on the warm, accepting and active LGBTQ community at BU Law and Boston in general. However, I learned through Be Yourself Orientation, an optional two day orientation before regular orientation, that BU Law does not only boast a reputation for being “gay friendly,” but we hold a strong commitment for diversity and inclusion.

I am proud to be at a law school which places such a strong emphasis from its Office of Admissions to its Office of Student Affairs to its student body on diversity and inclusion. We have students of every ethnic, cultural, religious and socio-economic background, like most law schools. But more than that, we welcome diversity in the classroom, discussions, and friendships. We encourage people to pursue their dreams within the context of their unique background. Two experiences jump out for me to illustrate how diversity and inclusion have shaped my experience at BU Law. I apologize in advance for the lack of diversity in my examples, and I find that I am not the most diverse or interesting person (but hey, that’s accepted too!).

This fall, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to direct a play. I directed throughout high school and college, and I consider it a underutilized hobby. I enjoy the passion and commitment that comes with directing a play and working with actors. However, this play was different from other plays I’ve directed. I found a place that spoke to my career as a lawyer.

“8: The Play” is a groundbreaking dramatization of the historic Proposition 8 trial (apologies for citing Wikipedia!) in California. This play follows the trial court transcript with familiar characters, such as Ted Olson and David Boies, counsel for the plaintiffs; Charles Cooper, counsel for the defendant; and Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, the presiding judge with his own unique relationship to the trial. This play was written by Dustin Lance Black, famous screenwriter of Milk and J. Edgar, and produced with help by Broadway Impacts and the American Foundation for Equal Rights. I was excited to tell a story through the actual words of the plaintiffs and expert witnesses, while relating back to the research I completed on Prop 8 and the other marriage cases. Now is an essential time to discuss DOMA and Prop 8, especially given the pending Supreme Court review this term.

I was fortunate enough to have overwhelming support from the BU Law administration and staff, including some fantastic professors to act in the production! I was astonished with the interest, passion, and commitment that my fellow students, professors, and community members brought to the production. Unfortunately, the production was one-night-only, but we were able to start a dialogue that lasted for months after the performance. Honestly, the discussion before, during, and after was more important to me than the success or star-quality of the performance (I was lucky to have both too). I had a unique opportunity and I could not have attempted it without the generous support of BU Law.

My second experience started during the fall of my second year of law school (what feels like forever ago!). After a year on the Lawyers for Transgender Rights Gala Committee, I targeted the sensitive issues affecting transgender individuals. I noticed that BU Law did not have a gender neutral bathroom. You might wonder why do I care? Why should we care? Each day, transgender individuals must make difficult and conflicting choices regarding their gender identity. I apologize that though I may have the sensitivity to these issues, I do not have the appropriate language.

However, I am still dedicated to these initiatives. Gender neutral bathrooms not only protect transgender individuals, but they also protect individuals who do not feel comfortable in single-sex gender bathrooms. It’s a privacy issue that I am proud that BU Law has addressed. While I brought many of these concerns to the administration last year, I am overjoyed that the administration and current OutLaw Executive Board found a solution. In fact, BU Law has found multiple solutions, including:

Outside the Women’s Law Association and OutLaw Offices

– Temporarily converting the second floor women’s restroom into a gender neutral bathroom (temporary means until the new building is built).
– Temporarily converting the eleventh floor men’s faculty bathroom into a gender neutral, single-stall bathroom.
– Converting the seventeenth floor men’s bathroom into permanent, transgender-friendly bathroom.
– Promising that the new BUSL building will have gender neutral bathrooms.

Sign for the 17th Floor Bathroom

BU Law continues to be sensitive, responsive, and aware of the many issues affecting our students’ lives. Their action reminds me why I am comfortable and proud to be a BU Law student. I hope other students will continue to step forward and acknowledge the hard work of the administration while challenging them to address our evolving needs.

** The title is taken from a popular T-shirt campaign and not meant to be non-inclusive of the entire breadth and depth of the LGBTQ community.

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