Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and nine former and current Boston city councilors signed a petition calling for Boston College to create an LGBTQ+ resource center on campus and include gender identity in the University’s discrimination policy, according to a post on BC Equality’s Instagram on Monday.
“It is such an honor to have so many prominent officials publicly show their support for queer and trans students at BC,” the caption reads. “LGBTQ+ students at BC deserve to be fully supported during their time at the school and BC continues to fail to live up to its responsibility to do this.”
Wu is not the first high-profile figure to sign the petition—U.S. Secretary of Labor and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh signed the petition last spring, and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson tweeted her support for the center in March of 2020.
The petition, which former graduate student James Mazareas created in March of 2020, has garnered over 1,482 signatures at the time of publication.
According to BC Equality, the former Boston city councilors who signed the petition include Matt O’Malley, Andrea Campbell, and Lydia Edwards. Current council members Julia Mejia, Liz Breadon, Kenzie Bok, Ricardo Arroyo, Ruthzee Louijeune, and City Council President Ed Flynn also signed the petition, according to the post.
In a comment to The Heights, Louijeune emphasized the importance of providing safe spaces for LGBT+ students at universities like BC.
“It is incredibly important that universities have safe and affirming spaces for the LGBT+ community,” she said. “An institution like Boston College has the means to provide these critical resources and we must do all we can to support and uplift student voices advocating for their needs. An on-campus LGBT+ Support Center is long overdue, and I stand with the students and organizers in their efforts.”
Breadon—the city councilor for Allston and Brighton—sent a letter to Vice President of Student Affairs Shawna Cooper-Gibson on Nov. 22, 2021, urging BC to take “swift and decisive action” to make the University a more welcoming place for LGBTQ+ students.
“The creation of a resource center and residential community dedicated to LGBTQIA+ students would be immensely beneficial toward ensuring BC fosters an affirming and welcoming campus culture for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” the letter said.
News of Wu and the councilors signing the petition comes after the University announced on April 8 plans to rebrand the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center (BAIC) as the Thea Bowman Intercultural Center starting this summer, dropping the AHANA acronym from the center’s name and incorporating resources for LGBTQ+ students under its umbrella.
The changes to the BAIC, which include hiring a full-time staff member and graduate assistant to support LGBTQ+ students, are aimed at creating a true “intercultural” center, Cooper-Gibson said in a University release.
“The mission of the BAIC is to create an inclusive and culturally diverse environment on campus by promoting equity, building community, and supporting opportunity,” Cooper-Gibson said. “The inclusion of resources for LGBTQ+ students within the BAIC aligns perfectly with this mission.”
The petition points to spaces at BC that are designed to support other marginalized communities, like the BAIC and the Women’s Center, and said it is time for BC to recognize the equal dignity of its LGBTQ+ students by listening to calls for an LGBTQ+ resource center.
“An LGBTQ+ Resource Center would foster a strong sense of belonging and security among Queer and Trans students,” the petition reads. “It would serve as a tangible sign of inclusion and care offered to LGBTQ+ students, who often have a more difficult time finding these vital necessities on campus.”
The petition also stresses the importance of adding gender identity to BC’s non-discrimination policy. In 2005, BC added sexual orientation to the policy but did not also add gender identity, according to the petition.
“The culture at any institution is shaped by the attitudes and policies of its administration,” the petition reads. “It is time for Boston College to demonstrate unequivocally that trans and non-binary students are equal members of the community who will be supported and protected in every way.”
According to the BC Equality post, LGBTQ+ students have fought for decades for increased protections and better policies at BC.
“As each year passes BC falls further behind other schools across the country in supporting LGBTQ+ community members,” the post reads. “As today’s announcement shows the calls for the university to support queer and trans students will only continue to grow louder.”
This story is being updated.