Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

A Notable Presence on Campus

As Duke President Richard Brodhead has stated, "As an institution within a larger culture, it's not surprising that the Duke of older times was saturated with homophobia…I regret every act that ever limited the human life of anyone who came here." Today, Duke is equally proud to acknowledge a quite different environment where all students, gay and straight, are equal members of our broader Duke family. Here are just a few of the current facts:

  • Duke is the first university to have an LGBT-inclusive admissions question on the undergraduate application. It is the fourth university nationwide to make explicit mention of sexual orientation and gender identity on the application. The Admissions office also has an LGBT liaison on staff. The Fuqua School of Business has had an LGBT question on its application for years, and holds an LGBT recruitment weekend each year.
  • There are a broad variety of academic offerings related to the LGBTQ studies. Clinical Considerations in the LGBT Community, Queer Writing Practices option for Writing 101, and a number of popular courses in psychology, neuroscience and history, to name but a few examples of available courses.
  • The Duke Student Government prioritizes the needs of sexual and gender minorities on campus, with an established VP for Equity and Outreach on the executive council responsible for overseeing progress within student government and on campus in general.
  • Duke provides coverage that is inclusive of trans individuals, including sex reassignment surgery and other procedures that address the health needs of trans individuals.
  • At Duke's Coming Out Day, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity hands out 1,500 Love=Love t-shirts in a matter of a few short hours. This shirt, and the meaning it represents, is easily one of the most popular t-shirts on campus. The event also includes a full-day celebration, with bands, tabling, food, and broad campus participation.
  • The Queer History at Duke project, a semester-long series of events commemorating queer history on campus, celebrating how far we have come, and acknowledging the work remaining to be done on queer issues, here at Duke and more broadly. The project includes a library exhibit featuring historical perspectives and materials dating back to the 1960s through today, monthly events including prominent speakers, artist exhibits, film screenings and more. The website, queerhistory.duke.edu consolidates this commemoration, and includes enlightening audio interviews with faculty and alumni.
  • The Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (CSGD) was relocated in August 2013 to an excellent renovated space in the Bryan Center. The Center is a well-respected resource for students and partner with units across campus and the medical center, offering extensive programming, support for a variety of student groups, and signature events including Coming Out Day, Alum Reception, Lavender Graduation, Profiles in Sexuality Research, and more. In recent years, the Center has increased from 1 to 4 full-time staff members, enabling CSGD to increase it's support for and education to the community.
  • Duke's East Campus and the surrounding neighborhoods are host to the largest Pride Parade in North Carolina. Annually, this event brings in thousands of participants and supporters. Duke faculty, students, student groups and university entities are well-represented among the participants.
  • Duke is home to a vibrant set of undergraduate and graduate lgbtq groups. One of the more active groups on campus, Blue Devil's United puts on a variety of events, including the Lavender Ball, which boasts more than 200 attendees. Athlete Allys is a strong voice encouraging allyship within the athletic community. Many other groups on campus provide peer connections that extend throughout the community. Duke also has an active LGBT alumni network.
  • There are a variety of Duke polices supportive of sexual and gender diversity on campus. These include recognition of same sex couples and extension of benefit coverage for these couples, trans inclusive health care, sexual and gender identity explicitly stated as part of the university's non-discrimination policy (not required by law in NC), same sex union ceremonies welcome in the Duke Chapel, and more.
  • Duke has a number of faculty engaged with the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, including Michael Gustafson of the Pratt School of Engineering; Barbara Lau of the Franklin Humanities Institute, and many, many others.
  • The Greek community partners to put on Greek Ally Week, using novel approaches to include the Greek community in LGBTQ spaces with information and activities catering to this large and active portion of the Duke student population.
  • The Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity also takes an intersectional approach to much of its work, making a particular effort to cater to people of color and their unique needs within the community. The QPOC discussion group is one such intersectional effort.
  • A nationally recognized student created campaign, You Don't Say, reached national media. One poster proudly stated "I don't say "no homo" because it means that showing any affection towards someone of the same sex is inherently bad." Another said: "I don't say "That's so gay" because the words gay and stupid are not interchangeable." This brilliant campaign was featured on CNN, in Cosmopolitan, and on many other prominent media outlets. The campaign can still be seen at https://www.facebook.com/youdontsaycampaign.
  • Duke Housing has an extensive 4-year gender neutral housing program across the universities three campuses: East, West and Central. Duke embraces this approach, while many other universities shy away from it, particularly in first-year housing.
  • Campus engagement in LGBTQ issues also comes through photo projects. One project extends from the What I Be project, and caters to intersectional audiences with emphasis on mental health issues related to LGBTQ and other historically marginalized identities. The Trans*allyship project will be spotlighted in the Fall of 2014, with Laverne Cox visiting campus on 11/11 and BDU photo projects on transgender awareness/allies.
  • The Know Your Status student organization partners closely with LGBT groups to support a robust HIV prevention and health promotion program on campus.
  • Transgender Studies Quarterly is printed by the Duke University Press.
  • Duke University LGBT Task Force plays a strong role on campus.