Our History

When the discussion about establishing an LGBTQ Faculty Staff Association began, marriage equality was not law in Maryland, trans state employees and students could not count on heath coverage as they transitioned, same-sex couples faced an economic penalty if they chose to have their partners covered by their health insurance, and there was no coverage available to LGBTQ+ people who relied on reproductive technology to grow their families. Still, UMBC had (and still has) a tradition of faculty and staff who are members of the LGBTQ+ community meeting together to discuss issues of particular interest. Before listservs existed, there was an email group called the Lavender List that community members learned about through word of mouth, and there have always been out members of the community who have been a part of the President’s Council and who participated in the LGBTQ Campus Climate Group.

But by August 2012, it became clear that a more official organized group was needed to make sure LGBTQ+ voices were part of ongoing campus conversations about diversity, community, equity, and visibility. LGBTQ+ faculty and staff sought to ensure that they were speaking for their own communities and to offer themselves as mentors to students directly, rather than through intermediaries.

Thus, LGBTQ+ faculty and staff members started brainstorming with the Office of the Provost about what such a group would look like and what its goals would be. We had important models in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) Black Faculty Committee, Women’s Faculty Network, and Latino/Hispanic Faculty Association. Yet, we wanted something different. From its origin, it has been important to be as inclusive as possible, so the LGBTQ FSA was founded explicitly as a group that included both faculty and staff. We also wanted to draw from the University community as a whole, rather than just one college and to have a mechanism for people to learn about us that was potentially broader than relying on word of mouth.

And so, after an academic year of meetings, focus groups, discussions within the community and with members of the university administration, the LGBTQ FSA voted to approve its bylaws in May 2013. While the legal landscape has evolved since that time (especially with changes to marriage status and health coverage in Maryland), the recent targeting and murder of LGBTQ+ people of color in Orlando, Florida reminds us that we have work still ahead of us to ensure full equity to members of the LGBTQ+ community at UMBC and in the world.


A Timeline of LGBTQ+ History


  • Course on AIDS taught by Dr. Carole McCann in American Studies


  • LGB faculty staff association begins (Connected to the University System of Maryland LGB faculty staff association)


  • Safe Zone program started


  • Housing agreement for graduate and full time live in residential life staff


  • Freedom Alliance is founded
  • First National Coming Out Day at UMBC
  • Freedom Alliance is given space in basement of Sondheim Hall


  • System faculty staff group testify in front of board of regents requesting benefits for same sex partners and inclusion in non-discrimination policy – Freeman Hrabowski was the only USM president who testified in support of LGB faculty and staff


  • Sexual orientation added to the USM Board of Regents non-discrimination policy
  • First queer studies class taught in Women Studies


  • First Annual Drag Show sponsored by the Freedom Alliance


  • First Allies Dinner hosted by the Freedom Alliance
  • Student Affairs audit report of LGBT services on campus


  • Gender neutral housing begins (Walker Avenue Apartments), sponsored by RSA


  • QUMBC formed


  • QUMBC sponsored alternative Spring Break Trip to investigate LGBTQ issues and services


  • Faculty and staff with non-married partners can add them to health insurance- taxable benefit


  • LGBTQ Campus Climate Working group is created and begins meeting
  • First Graduate Coordinator for LGBTQ Programs hired in the Office of Student Life


  • Gender identify and expression added to USM Board of Regents non-discrimination policy
  • Marriage equality passed in the state of Maryland
  • Un-married Faculty and staff with partners must now be married to be eligible for health insurance, no longer a taxable benefit for non-married partners
  • QUMBC hosted BMORE Proud Conference at UMBC
  • Between Women, a group for LBGTQ identified women students is started by the Women’s Center


  • Partial defeat of DOMA – gives married same sex couples access to
  • UMBC’s LGBTQ Faculty and Staff is established and passes its first by-laws
  • UMBC faculty and staff Outlist published
  • Began labeling single-use restrooms as “gender neutral”
  • Renovated Freedom Alliance Office opens as the Queer Student Lounge in the University Center
  • Spectrum, a group for transgender and gender non-conforming students is started by the Women’s Center with support of Student Life’s LGBTQ Programming
  • Queer Leadership Council (QLC) convenes


  • First Lavender Celebration and recognition of LGBTQ graduates held on campus
  • First Queer Camping Trip experience provided to UMBC LGBTQ+ students
  • In honor of LGBTQ History Month, Reina Gossett, a trans woman of color speaks on campus


  • 20th anniversary of the Freedom Alliance
  • Hosted Bmore Proud on campus for a second time
  • Supreme Court reviews whether the constitution guarantees same sex couples the right to marriage


  • Changed restroom labeling to for single-use restrooms to “All gender”