Ithaca College Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services, established 2001

Ithaca LGBTQ History Walking Tour

Ithaca College Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services, established 2001

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services, Ithaca College


The LGBTQ history of IC begins long before the campus LGBT Center was created. Records show that there was a gay student group as early as December 1971. The group is described in a September 1972 Ithacan article. The article discusses the IC Gay Liberation Front group and its desire to become an official student organization. Some original IC Gay Liberration Front documents from that period were accidentally re-discovered by an IC staff member in institutional research. They had fallen behind a filing cabinet and were found in 2006. The documents included a typed agenda with meeting minutes written on it, noting that 11 men and 1 woman attended their December 1971 meeting.

Eventually, the student group that is now Prism was officially recognized (called Gala at that time, then GAY-la, then BiGayLa). And then, more than 20 years later, an effort began to create the campus LGBT Center.

Marty Brownstein, a retired IC professor, commented: "Gay life was pretty vibrant for 25 to 30 years before IC’s LGBT Center was established.”

In November 1999, a committee was formed to explore the idea to establish a resource center on campus dedicated to the needs of the LGBT community and their straight allies. This initial meeting of interested students, faculty, and staff was held to assess needs and determine courses of action. The committee concluded that the center was a vital need, and that such a resource center “would be invaluable in promoting a climate of understanding, support and celebration of diversity and would provide a sage environment for LGBT-identified students in which to learn, live and grow.”

The committee drafted a proposal that was presented to the Acting Vice President of Student Affairs/Campus Life in the spring of that year. The committee also solicited endorsements of the proposal from student organizations, academic departments and administrative offices.

Vital in this effort were heterosexual allies who advocated that a Center would indeed serve the needs of all students, of all sexual and gender identities, and create a positive environment for all.

The Ithaca College Board of Trustees approved funds at their February 2001 meeting to provide minimum operating expenses and fund a part-time coordinator for academic year 2001-2002.

The Ithaca College Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services opened the doors of its LGBT Resource Room, staffed by a cadre of student volunteers on November 12, 2001, exactly two years and one day after the initial committee meeting.

The Center continues to work for everyone on campus. Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and heterosexism hurt people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Challenging and confronting oppression is vital in a learning environment.

As founding director Luca Maurer put it, “LGBTQ students don’t just bring their LGBTQ selves to campus, they bring their whole selves. Transphobia, biphobia, homophobia are all amplified and exponentially compounded by oppression in all its forms. Most especially pervasive, structural racism, as well as misogyny, classism, xenophobia, islamophobia, anti-semitism, anti-immigrant sentiments. Our efforts must recognize and dismantle oppression in all its forms. LGBTQ liberation must be intersectional or it will not be liberation at all."

"The LGBT Center is here to welcome and affirm students. We not only accept them but expect them, with programs, resources, supports and services to foster the academic success and personal growth of LGBTQ students, and provide opportunities for the campus community to learn more about LGBTQ people and themes. The work that I do is all designed to foster student success and to communicate and put into action simple but essential truths: You are valid. You are valued. You are loved. This will always be your home."

Maurer continued, "Revolutionary organizing and action requires strategy, collaboration and solidarity with foundations rooted in interconnectedness, humility, empathy, compassion and love. When we actively welcome and affirm one another and bring our whole selves into a space, we begin to change the world. For some this may seem like a small act, for others it is revolutionary."

Special thanks to Michael Mandel ‘00 for providing the history of the creation of IC's LGBT Center.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Ithaca LGBTQ History Walking Tour


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