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Support for LGBTQ Community Grows on MBA Campuses

Since the release of the cover of the July issue of Vanity Fair Magazine, the world has been erupting with news about Caitlyn Jenner. According to TIME, there were more than 10 million Google searches for “Caitlyn Jenner” from May 29 to June 5. Caitlyn, formerly known as Bruce, has become the most well-known transgender woman. According to the official Google blog, “Her high-profile transition has put Jenner at the center of an active national dialogue about transgender equality and rights.”

In a preview of the VF story “Call Me Caitlyn,” the magazine reveals some of the conversations that contributing editor Buzz Bissinger had with Jenner over the course of her transition. The two discuss her upcoming eight-part documentary series on the E! network, “I am Cait.” Jenner comments that she is prepared for criticism about creating a show that could be perceived as a publicity stunt. “You don’t go out and change your gender for a television show. O.K., it ain’t happening. I don’t care who you are,” Jenner told Vanity Fair. “I’m doing it to help my soul and help other people.” The E! documentary series will focus on the issues that the transgender community faces.

The introduction of Caitlyn Jenner to the world is just part of the growing awareness of the LGBTQ community. Colleges and universities have seen an increase in LGBTQ community groups for students, faculty and alumni over the last few years as well as an increase in support for the community from allies on campus. Publications such as the Princeton review and bestcolleges.com now provide rankings for the best schools for LGBTQ students.

One Columbia Business School student organized a trans training program for students and staff. According to an article by the New York Times, almost 200 students and staff members filled the largest classroom on campus for a presentation on terminology and pronouns. Columbia will continue to repeat the program twice a year for students and staff. In September, Columbia opened gender-neutral bathrooms and provides students with a map of where these restrooms are located. The school also began to offer the option to choose transgender on application forms.

Harvard Business School partners with The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Association to host open house events for prospective LGBTQ students. The school also strives to increase awareness and understanding of LGBT issues at HBS and in the business community through events on and off campus. Event speakers have included the former CFO of Ford Motor Company and the President of LOGO TV. In the last few years, at least three additional LGBTQ cases have been added to the HBS curriculum.

It is not only American business schools that are working to grow support for the LGBTQ community. The London Business School’s Out in Business (OiB) club has over 300 members. The club is one of the strongest and most active clubs on campus and is a point of pride for the school’s diversity. The club organizes social events for students throughout the year as well as career events that connect LGBT students with employers who seek out talent and create inclusive workplaces.

Traditionally, business schools have generally been male-dominated environment, with a lack of diversity with regard to sexual identity. According to Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA), a leading organization for LGBTQ MBA students, only 3 percent of MBA students identify as LGBTQ students. Reaching Out MBA works to educate students about the opportunities and challenges of being an LGBT MBA student as well as a business leader and how they can capitalize on opportunities and overcome challenges to create the next group of leading business professionals who will create a path toward educational equality. ROMBA partners with more than 30 leading business schools to provide events and support for LGBTQ students on campuses all over the world.

The increase in LGBTQ supporters at leading business schools as well as the increased media attention that the community has been receiving because of Caitlyn Jenner will help the ROMBA and other organization like it to decrease the stigma associated with the LGBTQ community in the world of business.

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Erin Purcell

Staff Writer, covering MetroMBA's news beat for New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

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