When an association for LGBTQ students and allies was created at the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2002, the name OUTLaws was chosen as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that many aspects of life for the LGBTQ community — such as marriage —were illegal.
Since 2002, great strides have been made towards equality for the LGBTQ community, including the legalization of marriage. That’s why students involved in the organization at the College of Law decided that it was time for a name change. The group formerly known as OUTLaws today has become the law school’s Pride Law Caucus.
The group and its new name will celebrate Pride 2019 this year along with the rest of the University of Utah and broader Salt Lake City community on June 1-2.
“There was a lot of confusion around the name,” said Hannah Welch, a law student and president of the Pride Law Caucus. “From an LGBTQ standpoint, it was out of date. And for people who weren’t LGBTQ, they thought we were a biker gang or something. That’s why we decided to change the name.”
Not only has the association’s name been changed, but the Pride Law Caucus is becoming more active and involved at the college and in the community.
Members of the Pride Law Caucus are aware that there is still work to be done in terms of LGBTQ equality, especially in the legal field. Some of the biggest concerns are dealing with workplace discrimination, fighting for transgender rights, making name and gender changes easier, and ending conversion therapy.
Many of these topics are especially controversial in Utah. For example, a bill drafted by professor Cliff Rosky that would ban conversion therapy (any therapy that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation) for minors was recently considered in the Utah State Legislature but ultimately did not pass. The members of the Pride Law Caucus realized that this is an important issue for members of the LGBTQ community and earlier this year hosted an event to facilitate discussion about the harms of conversion therapy. Kate Kendall and Shannon Minter from the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Troy Williams from Equality Utah visited College of Law and discussed the history of conversion therapy, why it’s not considered a valid form of therapy, and the measures taken to stop this type of therapy across the United States.
As another aspect of the club’s revamping, the Pride Law Caucus is hoping to make and maintain connections with the legal LGBTQ community in Salt Lake City.
“Connecting with the community is so important,” Welch said. “If there’s an LGBTQ student who’s concerned about getting jobs, or they’re concerned about where they are going to fit in in the legal community, we can connect them to attorneys who understand and can discuss those issues.”
Currently, a member of the Pride Law Caucus sits on the board of the LGBT & Allied Lawyers of Utah, an association of the Utah State Bar and an affiliate of the National LGBT Bar Association. Their mission is to use education and advocacy to promote and support the rights of LGBT people within the legal profession and throughout Utah.
Despite the focus on LGBTQ issues, students should not feel like they cannot join the Pride Law Caucus if they aren’t a part of that community.
“We welcome any and all people, regardless of whether or not they consider themselves LGBTQ,” Welch said. “It’s definitely for allies, too. We obviously promote ideas of equality, and as long as students also want to promote those ideas, then they’re welcome.”
For more information about student organizations at the College of Law, visit http://www.law.utah.edu/students/student-organizations/.