LGBT at MIT
MIT and its surrounding communities offer a broad spectrum of services, activities, and resources for Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Questioning, Queer, and supportive individuals.
The information below was compiled from the [email protected] website.
The Rainbow Lounge
The Rainbow Lounge houses a collection of LBGT-themed literature and films, as well as serves as a cozy room for reading, meeting and talking to other people, and simply hanging out. The Lounge is equipped with a library database tracking system, so all books and films are available for take out. A listing of available DVDs and books can be found here. The Lounge is also home to MIT's LBGT student groups.
The Lounge is staffed by a team of professional staff from the Division of Student Life, MIT Medical, and the Office of Minority Education.
The "You Are Welcome Here" Campaign
As part of MIT's continuing effort to create a safe and welcoming environment for its LBGT students, the "You are Welcome Here" Campaign was launched in 1999. In April 2004, in recognition of MIT's decision to add gender identity as a protected class in its nondiscrimination policy, the Campaign was relaunched. And in September 2010, with a lot of new staff, faculty, and students, the campaign was relaunched to reach as much of the new audience as possible.
The basic purposes of the campaign are to both raise awareness and create visibility. While the main effort of the Campaign is to invite faculty and staff at MIT to join the Campaign by posting a "You are Welcome Here" card in their office or workspace, ongoing education and awareness programs are an important part of this effort as well.
Many members of the MIT community have posted a "You are Welcome Here" sign in a visible location, affirming that they:
1. Will be understanding, supportive and trustworthy if a lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender student or colleague needs help, advice, or just someone to whom they can talk;
2. Will avoid heterosexist assumptions, confront homophobia, and use inclusive language ("partner" or "spouse," rather than "boyfriend" or "wife");
3. Believe that our campus is enriched by the inclusion of LBGT people;
4. Will refer individuals to [email protected] and other appropriate resources.
For more information, please visit http://yawh.mit.edu/.
Living Pink Guide
The Living Pink Guide is produced by [email protected] and [email protected] to help undergraduate students find dorms, independent living groups, fraternities, and sororities that are welcoming to lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, and queer individuals.
The latest results for the Guide were compiled from a survey sent to all undergraduates during the spring of 2011. During the spring of 2012, an improved survey will be sent out to all undergraduate and graduate students in order to have the most up-to-date data for all living groups.
You can pick up a printed version of the Living Pink Guide in the Rainbow Lounge in room 50-005 in the basement of Walker Memorial, or view the Living Pink Guide online at http://livingpink.mit.edu/index.php.
The Lavender Guide & Other Resources
MIT and the Boston/Cambridge area offer many opportunities for LBGT and friendly folk to socialize, get support, and become involved. The Lavender Guide is an extensive (but by no means comprehensive!) list of resources that you can use as a starting point.
You can view the Lavender Guide online here.
You can view lists of on-campus and off-campus resources here.
The LBGT Issues Group
The LBGT Issues Group is a committee of faculty, staff, students, and alumni(ae) who are lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, or just plain friendly. The group seeks to foster a safe and welcoming environment for LBGT students and to ensure that the educational mission of MIT is upheld for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Meetings are held once a month and address specific projects dealing with the concerns of the LBGT community. Anyone affiliated with MIT and LBGT-friendly is welcome to join or participate.
To learn more about the Issues Group, and to see the schedule of meetings for the 2011-2012 academic year, visit http://web.mit.edu/lbgt/ig/index.html.
Events on Campus
[email protected] and the student groups on campus (including [email protected], Gender Fluidity Group, and others) hold a plethora of events on campus. To see a full list of past, current, and future events, you can visit the [email protected] events calendar.
History of LBGT Support at MIT
MIT was one of the first institutions of higher learning to have an LBGT student group. What is today known as GaMIT began as the Student Homophile League in 1969. LBGT support continued to be voluntary and informal until the fall of 1996.
In 1996, John Kellett '47 for his 50th reunion gift committed to providing $100,000 to support BGALA and LBGT programs at MIT over the next five years. With the support of Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind Williams, the LBGT Issues Group was formed that fall. Originally composed of fourteen staff and faculty members - gay, lesbian, and straight - the Issues Group soon added student members. The Group spent most of the first year educating itself about LBGT issues and evaluating needs on campus. The Issues Group evolved into an umbrella group of MIT's LBGT student groups and departments committed to providing support.
Over the next few years, the efforts of the Issues Group and its partners made significant progress towards the creation of a more welcoming environment at MIT. In 1997 the Group published the first Lavender Guide; developed dialog with the ROTC Task Force Implementation Team, ultimately concluding that the two groups could not work together; and began to offer grants to fund student activities and co-sponsor campus events, beginning with Orientation. The Issues Group later supported the renovation of the GaMIT Lounge and assumed responsibility for coordinating the Rainbow Reception. In 2002, after being approached by a committee of the Issues Group, MIT agreed to amend the non-discrimination policy to include prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity.
Approved donation of Dean's Office staff time was and remains crucial to the progress of LBGT support services at MIT. In 1998, Student Life Programs (then known as RLSLP) created a graduate internship to provide specific and paid support to advising LBGT student groups and coordinating implementation of Issues Group initiatives. This first internship resulted in the development of the "You are Welcome Here" Campaign. That role has since been expanded, with the support of John Kellett, to a part-time graduate assistant position. The combination of the graduate assistantship, the approved donation of staff time within Student Life Programs, and the development of a logo to represent MIT's diverse services, resulted in the creation of [email protected], a program within SLP to provide staff support and coordination to diverse efforts across MIT.
In the spring of 2001, the Undergraduate Association passed a resolution to donate several thousand dollars to found a resource center for LBGT students at MIT. In April of 2002, the GaMIT Lounge expanded its scope and opened as the Rainbow Lounge. In the Spring of 2005, the Rainbow Lounge expanded to its current location within the Walker Buidling, 50-005. The new location includes offices, a library, a kitchen and, of course, a lounge.
In October 2011, MIT received the title of The Daily Beast’s “most gay-friendly school.” This was no surprise for the organizers of “Living Pink” — a student-led survey of nearly 1,300 undergraduates. The survey, the first of its kind at MIT since 2005, revealed mostly positive sentiments in MIT’s undergraduate residences toward LGBTQ students (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning). Read the full MIT news article here.