The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan has rolled out a new initiative designed to make the department an even more welcoming place to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The fight for equal rights under the law irrespective of one's sexual orientation or gender identity is arguably THE civil rights issue in today's society,” said EEB Professor and Chair Diarmaid Ó Foighil. “Although attending the U-M allows many of our LGBT students to start expressing their sexual identities for the first time, this is rarely a stress-free process. 

“EEB's impressive Diversity Committee (graduate students Jordan Bemmels and Alex Taylor, and faculty Jo Kurdziel, Knute Nadelhoffer, Annette Ostling, and John Vandermeer) has worked with graphic designer John Megahan to design a ‘You Are Welcome Here’ EEB logo aimed at this audience.”

Hard copies are available at the EEB office front desk for posting on lab and office doors. An accompanying statement (linked from the prospective students section of our website) explains the intention behind the artwork.

“The initiative comes at a time of rapidly changing public opinion across the country regarding LGBTQIA* issues,” said Bemmels. “Legal protections are a very important step, but full equality can only come with an environment where all feel fully welcome and valued. The initiative, in part, is recognition that we all play a role in shaping that environment.

“Sense of belonging is a key factor affecting the careers that undergrads choose to pursue, the institutions where prospective grad students and postdocs choose to study, and the career satisfaction of faculty and staff,” Bemmels continued.

“Hopefully, the initiative will have a positive impact on not just LGBTQIA individuals, but also anyone who may be unsure about 'fitting in' in science and in academia,” Bemmels said. “The answer is yes, you are wanted here – people of all backgrounds can have fulfilling and successful careers in science.”

EEB graduate student Katherine Crocker said "I think it's really fantastic that we are intentionally broadening our community's definition of diversity, and am very proud to be part of a group that actively places value on breaking down stereotypes and welcoming everyone to our department.”

Read the You Are Welcome Here statement, which includes LGBQTIA-related resources.

* These letters are among those most frequently used in the community, and this acronym is not intended to exclude anyone who may not self-identify using one of these terms.