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Marking the 40th anniversary of Twin Cities Pride, University of Minnesota reflects on its GLBT history

Friday, June 22, 2012

Media note: The University of Minnesota Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Programs Office and other U of M offices and organizations will be staffing a booth in the School Zone section of Loring Park during Twin Cities Pride Festival (Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

On the eve of the 40th anniversary celebration of Twin Cities Pride, the University of Minnesota is taking stock of its own history with the GLBT community. And as is often the case with history, the story is mixed. As the university begins preparations for the 20th anniversary of its Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally (GLBTA) Programs Office, it recognizes that the path to the creation of the office was not always a source of pride.

The path started with actions taken by a new Minnesotan. Michael McConnell, a prospective employee, in April 1970 was offered the position as head of the cataloging division in the university’s St. Paul campus library. The following month, he applied for a license to marry the adult of his choice. Though the license was denied, the story was spread by local and national media, and has been characterized by many as not only the beginning of the struggle for full equality for gays and lesbians in Minnesota but also a demand for inclusion that had national and international impact.

As important and impactful as this action was, it was not without costs, to him and to the university. In the midst of the public conversation about his attempt to marry, the university deemed McConnell’s conduct, as represented in the public and university news media, not consistent with the best interests of the university and did not approve his hire as a librarian. The struggle that ensued about the university’s right to take such action was long and painful, for everyone.

U of M President Eric Kaler has called McConnell’s treatment reprehensible, regrets that it occurred and says the university’s actions at that time were not consistent with the practices enforced today at the university. The U of M is dedicated to the fair and ethical treatment of all and its current policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as gender identity and gender expression.

The university’s participation in the upcoming 40th anniversary of Twin Cities Pride and its celebration of the 20th anniversary of its GLBTA Programs Office demonstrate not only its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, but are also the result of important actions by members of the U community and external stakeholders such as McConnell.

About the GLBTA Programs Office
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally (GLBTA) Programs Office at the University of Minnesota is dedicated to improving campus climate for all university faculty, staff, students and visitors by developing and supporting more inclusive understanding of gender and sexuality. The office, founded in 1993, has forged a new era of awareness, education, safety and voice for GLBTA individuals across campus. Selected as the lead story topic for Lavender Magazine's “School's Out” edition, the GLBTA Programs Office is finalizing plans for tabling at this weekend’s Twin Cities Pride Festival and is planning for its 20th anniversary celebration, which will detail the histories, struggles and accomplishments of GLBTA members across the University of Minnesota community. For more information about the GLBTA Programs Office, go to https://diversity.umn.edu/glbta/.
 

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