For the purposes of this proposal, the acronym LGBTQA refers to sexual orientations and gender identities defined as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and allies (traditionally heterosexual allies to the aforementioned group).  We acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive list of sexual or gender identities which we would consider included in the Special Interest Group’s (SIG) charge. We will welcome all individuals of all sexual and gender identities as SIG members as well.

The LGBTQA Special Interest Group (SIG) will serve two primary groups of AHEAD members, 1) those who are LGBTQA-identified, and 2) those who would like more information on the LGBTQ community so as to better serve those students on our respective campuses.

For the LGBTQA-identified disability service providers, this new SIG can offer a much needed community, an opportunity to share challenges and ideas for change, and the chance to educate colleagues about LGBTQ-identified people and the connection that exists between the struggle of people who are LGBTQ-identified and that of those who have disabilities. This new SIG, on an individual level, can generate more professionally and personally well-rounded AHEAD members, while allowing for a more open and inclusive AHEAD organization as a whole.

Additionally, the SIG will provide guidance to disability service providers working with students with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ with an emphasis on pluralistic supports.  We understand and affirm the complex intersections of identifying as a person with a disability and as a member of the LGBTQ community. This is especially true during the traditional college years, a time when many students explore their many identities – including sexual orientation and gender identity – for the first time as an adult. As examples of this important intersection of identity, we are only now learning of the LGTBQ connection that appears to be strong among many of those who have Autism Spectrum Disorders (Haracopos D, Pedersen L. Sexuality and autism: a nationwide survey in Denmark ; Preliminary report).  There is also an extremely high incidence of depression and suicidal tendencies among those who identify as transgender. (Hammelman, T.L. (1993). Gay and lesbian youth: contributing factors to serious attempts or considerations of suicide. Journal of gay and lesbian psychotherapy, 2(1), 77-89.)

We aim to provide a safe space for discussion of issues specific to these identity intersections, both for our members and for our students at our respective institutions.

We affirm the good work of AHEAD’s Diversity Initiative in raising consciousness of and beginning conversations around diverse identities.  Just as the Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Disability (REDD) SIG informs a particular subsection of our diversity work as an organization, so would the LGBTQA SIG. We believe that ensuring that LGBTQ issues are included in diversity conversations would be a focus of this SIG as it is of the Diversity Initiative.

AHEAD prides itself in providing “quality services to meet the needs of persons with disabilities involved in all areas of higher education.” The LGBTQA SIG complements this stated purpose of AHEAD by helping members grow their competencies in areas of LGBTQ awareness, terminology, and utilization of resources. The LGBTQA SIG can assist AHEAD with providing quality training on the intersections of disability and sexual/gender identities to AHEAD’s members.

In the founding of this SIG, primary contacts will be the following AHEAD member, who pledges a two-year commitment to chair the SIG:

Jenny Dugger
Portland State University
Phone: (503)725-2035
Fax: (503) 725-4103

The following AHEAD members have pledged their membership to the LGBTQA SIG:

Melanie Thornton
Teryn Robinson
Jenny Dugger 
Kathy McReedy
Teresa Haven
Jeffrey Jaech
Carol Funckes
Omar Troutman 
Joe Kelleher
Richard Weibl