U of L Parents Association wins award for "Proud Parent" partnership with LGBT Center

The University of Louisville Parents Association won the 2017 AHEPPP Powerful Partnerships award for a collaboration between the Parents Association and the LGBT Center with a new initiative: the creation of a “Proud Parent” T-shirt, updated with a unique rainbow design in support of UofL’s LGBT student population. "It is important to recognize this collaboration represents more than just a fun T-shirt design" said Dr. Glenn Gittings, Director of the UofL Parents Association. “Winning the 2017 AHEPPP Powerful Partnership award recognizes UofL’s Parents Association and the LGBT Center for valuing cross-campus partnerships to support student success and signifies an important collaboration between university departments with the goal of creating resources for parents/guardians to demonstrate their support for one of the most marginalized groups in our society: LGBT young people.”

Nationally, LGBT youth are at higher risk for suicidal ideation, suicide, depression and anxiety. Layered upon these risk factors are the additional challenges faced by LGBT people simply by living in the state of Kentucky. According to the 2015 GLSEN School Climate Survey, 90% of LGBT students in Kentucky regularly heard anti-LGBT remarks; 77% of LGBT students in Kentucky have been harassed or assaulted at school; and only 9% attend a school with comprehensive anti-bullying or anti-harassment policies that protect them.

Between the health disparities faced by LGBT students, combined with our state climate, visible support demonstrated parents/guardians is both life-saving and life-changing.  According to the Family Acceptance Project, “young adults whose parents and foster parents supported their gay or transgender identity had better overall physical and mental health. They had higher self-esteem and were much less likely to be depressed, to use illegal drugs, or to think about or try to kill themselves.” The research further states, “in families that were extremely accepting, almost all LGBT young people thought they would have a good life.”

Lisa Gunterman, Director of the UofL LGBT Center had this to say about the collaboration: “You might just see a t-shirt, but what I see is an antidote. Parental support is the #1 antidote that lowers the risk factors of LGBT students equal to their peers. This collaboration represents support for LGBT students at the University of Louisville.”

The “Proud Parent” T-Shirt gives parents/guardians an additional tool to counter the negativity and proudly demonstrate support for their LGBT students. It is because of campus partnerships like this one, between UofL Parents Association and the UofL LGBT Center, that we are able to create a campus climate where ALL students feel welcomed and empowered to reach their full potential.

AHEPPP is the premier national association for professionals who work with the parents and families of college students. AHEPPP provides valuable resources, networking opportunities, and education to support professionals in higher education who promote student success through informed parent and family engagement. (http://www.aheppp.org/)

The AHEPPP National Conference provides the opportunity to nationally recognize some of the shining stars and promising practices in the profession. The Powerful Partnership Award acknowledges and encourages successful collaborations where partnerships did not exist.  The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding partnerships (internal and/or external) and to gather information about effective relationships that exist across institutional lines.  The award also seeks to highlight how the program/initiative has positively impacted parents and family members.

Louisville and the UofL Parents Association will be the host for the 2018 AHEPPP National conference next year.  

Written by Dr. Glenn Gittings

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