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LGBT Resource Center Announces Closure Amidst DEI Changes

In the wake of Utah’s anti-DEI bill, the LGBT Resource Center is closing at the University of Utah.
Front+sign+of+the+University+of+Utah+LGBT+Resource+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Oct.+24%2C+2022.+%28Photo+by+Sarah+Karr+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Sarah Karr
Front sign of the University of Utah LGBT Resource Center in Salt Lake City on Oct. 24, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Karr | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

On Monday, the University of Utah’s LGBT Resource Center announced its closure via an Instagram post. A farewell celebration will be held on June 28 at Mountain West Cider. 

“Let’s come together to honor the center’s legacy of support, advocacy, and resilience, as well as to honor the 21 years of commitment that went into creating a safe environment where everyone is valued, not despite of their identities, but because of them,” reads the Center’s Instagram announcement. 

The closure comes in the wake of H.B. 261, an anti-DEI bill that restricts Utah schools from incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in their institutions. The LGBT Resource Center is just one of several resource and cultural centers to close or restructure in the aftermath of H.B. 261.

The Center for Equity and Student Belonging has been closed and, as of now, will be integrated into the Office of Student Affairs. The American Indian Resource Center is being renamed the Center for Native Excellence and Tribal Engagement and will continue their work with tribal nations. The Black Cultural Center building in Fort Douglas will remain open to the public as a gathering space. 

Meanwhile, the U is creating two new offices to centralize the student support services these resource and cultural centers offered. The Center for Student Access and Resources will support scholarship and support services, while the new Community and Cultural Engagement Center will focus on cultural celebration and education. 

“In this new model, the Women’s Resource Center, LGBT Resource Center and the Black Cultural Center student support services that are allowed under the law will be incorporated into the Center for Student Access and Resources,” reads an update on the changes from Lori McDonald, vice president of student affairs. “The cultural and community engagement functions of the three centers will be incorporated into the Center for Cultural and Community Engagement.” 

The EDI division is closing July 1. Staff members from this division and other resource centers are being integrated into positions within student affairs. 

Administrative guidance for H.B. 261 prohibits universities from sponsoring any programs or committees that “use the words diversity, equity, or inclusion.” While these words are prohibited, any committee or program that promotes student access may continue running so long as their services are open to all students. 

“The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center of the University of Utah supports student well-being and success by empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual/aromantic (LGBTQIA+) students in navigating university systems, exploring their identities, finding community, developing as leaders, and degree completion,” reads the Resource Center’s mission statement

The Resource Center has offered a variety of programs and events in their 21 years of service. This includes their Queer Conversations program, which is a conversation-based educational program built on exploring the intersections of queer and racial justice. The Center also offers a virtual student lounge on Discord, a Queer Peers program and a handful of workshops and scholarship opportunities. 

 

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@JosiHinds

This story is breaking and may be updated. 

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About the Contributors
Josi Hinds
Josi Hinds, News Editor
(she/her) Josi Hinds is a senior at the University of Utah studying journalism with a minor in Spanish. She spent a year as an arts writer before moving to the news desk as editor. Josi grew up in Bozeman, Montana before moving to Salt Lake for school. In her free time, she enjoys climbing, arts and crafts and caring for her plants.
Sarah Karr
Sarah Karr, Photographer
Sarah Karr was born and raised in Springfield, Oregon, and is attending the University of Utah with a major is communication and a minor in digital photography. Sarah is working with the Chronicle to improve her photojournalism skills and gain some experience in the newsroom. In her free time, Sarah likes to play online games, read and tend to her plants.

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