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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Interview with L.K. Langley, first-ever LGBTQ+ Director

By Logan Portteus

L.K. Langley, former manager of Equal Opportunity Programs, will serve as the first-ever LGBTQ+ director at Western. 

“The position really broadly serves students as well as faculty and staff at the university,” Langley said.  “The mission for LGBTQ+ Western is to advance the holistic thriving of the diverse LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff.”

To best fulfill this role, Langley said they will aim to collaboratively engage with the Western community through transformational knowledge, access to resources, advocacy and celebration. 

Steps to uphold these driving principles are already underway. Langley created a new website, lgbtq.wwu.edu, for students, faculty and staff to access resources, learn more about LGBTQ+ events and clubs and stay up to date with announcements. 

Linked resources on the website include where to find gender-neutral restrooms, how to apply for gender-inclusive housing options, how to file a name change through the Registrar’s office and a list of additional campus resources.

Langley began working at the Equal Opportunity Office in October 2011, and was Manager of Equal Opportunity Programs prior to their new position. // Photo courtesy of L.K. Langley

“The website will hopefully be a very useful hub for students and faculty/staff,” Langley said.  “It’ll offer a comprehensive understanding of what resources exist on campus, which resources exist in our broader community, what events are coming up and to share written learning materials as I develop those. It will also look at the different ways to get academically engaged with sexuality and gender identity.”

LGBTQ+-related studies are offered at Western, and a number of clubs and groups, including Western Aces, Queer Club, Queer andTrans People of Color Club (QTPOC) and Tag-Team, a club for trans students, of which Langley serves as the adviser.

“We have wonderful programs of study in women, gender, sexuality studies,” Langley said. “We have a queer studies minor in addition to the WGSS major and minor, and we have some classes across lots of disciplines that explore topics of gender and sexuality. So, there are opportunities to get engaged academically through the curricular side.”

Langley first began working at the Equal Opportunity Office in October 2011. They served as the manager of Equal Opportunity Programs until starting as LGBTQ+ Director on Aug. 6. During this time, like many people on campus, Langley had been working to fill some gaps left by the absence of a position they now hold, they said.

“To their good credit, the university leadership recognized the need for a position at a pretty senior level that’s dedicated to serving LGBTQ+ people on campus in a really coordinated, deliberate way,” Langley said.

Less than 15 percent of American colleges and universities have a full-time employee whose job duties are at least 50 percent dedicated to queer advocacy and resources.  While some schools have had such positions for years, others still don’t, Langley said.

“I think there is a recognition at Western of the importance of having leaders who are dedicated to doing this work in the day to day and moving all of us forward as we think about equity and inclusion for all of our community members,” they said.

Langley stressed the importance of their new position of working as a leading partner — not a replacement — to aid collaboration without rendering other LGBTQ+ organizations and resource providers obsolete.

Langley said the new LGBTQ+ director position has four overarching goals:

To engage individuals and departments in dialogue, learning opportunities and review of practices to better include LGBTQ+ students and colleagues.

To examine Western’s built environment systems and practices to remove barriers to inclusion and full participation. This includes examining barriers within information systems and structural environment at Western and addressing them.

To faciliate LGBTQ+ people’s connections to campus and community resources that further health and wellness.

Building community and advancing the visibility, understanding and celebration of LGBTQ+ cultures at Western. This would take the form of community events that are either academically focused or social and community building.

“I’m grateful and truly excited to be in this role, serving the vibrant LGBTQ+ communities on campus,” Langley said.  “I encourage students faculty and staff to reach out to me if they feel the need to do so and to check out the website!”


Upcoming LGBTQ+ Events

International Pronouns Day- Oct. 17 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

LGBTQ+ Western is endorsing the first-ever international pronouns day. The event will include a lunch and learn session, offering an opportunity to learn about the importance of pronouns and practice sharing pronouns in conversation.

Student Listening Sessions- Oct. 24 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and Oct. 25 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Faculty and Staff Listening Sessions- Nov. 6 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. and Nov. 14 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

These two events will center around community dialogue with Langley, offering students, staff and faculty the opportunity to express what they think is working well and where there are opportunities to grow as a community.

To learn more and access LGBTQ+ resources, visit lgbtq.wwu.edu


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