Diversity in Law School
LGBT Survey Results: Roger Williams University School of Law
Roger Williams University and Roger Williams University School of Law do not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected basis in admission to, access to, employment in, and treatment in its programs and activities.
Student Organization Contact Information
Director of Diversity & Outreach
Faculty Contact Information
Bela August Walker
Associate Professor of Law
Administrator Contact Information
Assistant Dean of Admissions
Director of Admissions
Assistant Director of Career Services
Course Titles and/or Descriptions
Sexuality and the Law
This course provides an introduction to the law that affects the lives of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. Topics such as the criminalization of gay sex, employment and discrimination, same-sex marriage, and gay parenting are covered.
Domestic Partnership Benefits
Same-Sex Spouse/Domestic Partnership Benefits for Employees of the School of Law include:
- Medical and Dental Insurance for the same-sex spouse/domestic partner; children of same-sex spouse/domestic partner may also be enrolled if they meet the medical and dental carrier's dependent requirements;
- Benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act;
- Use of sick time to care for same-sex spouse, domestic partner, same-sex spouse/domestic partner's dependent(s);
- Voluntary spousal life, accidental death and dismemberment, and long-term care insurance for the same-sex/domestic partner, subject to any specific insurance carrier requirements;
- Participation in Tuition Exchange, Council for Independent Colleges, and/or Tuition Remission for same-sex spouse/domestic partner; the same-sex spouse/domestic partner's dependent children may participate if they meet the definition of "dependent" under Section 152 of the IRS Code;
- Fitness Center family membership;
- Bereavement time for the death of the same-sex spouse, domestic partner, and the same-sex spouse/domestic partner's dependent(s).
RWU Law offers an inclusive and supportive environment for all members of our community. We have a substantial LGBT student population and a number of openly gay members of the administration and faculty. The Alliance, our LGBT student organization, is extremely active, hosting national speakers and organizing symposia. The Alliance's events are well attended by both our LGBT student population and allies. It won student organization of the year for 2008. Roger Williams has a Director of Diversity and Outreach who supports both the Alliance and our LGBT students. The Alliance also has a faculty/administrator advisor who provides additional support to the organization. Our LGBT students are leaders throughout the School of Law; LGBT students hold top positions within key student organizations like the Student Bar Association and Law Review.
Our students are connected to the Rhode Island LGBT legal community through both the RI Bar LGBT Committee and Lawyers for Equality and Diversity (LEAD). Students are invited to both groups' meetings and social events, and in fall 2011 a formal mentoring program was created, matching Alliance members with attorneys from both groups. The attorneys also frequently serve as informal mentors to many students and recent graduates. Through our public service requirement, our students can also play a role in LGBT issues through organizations like Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) and the Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). Our Pro Bono Collaborative, an innovative program bringing together our students, community organizations, and top law firms, has partnered with Youth Pride RI to assist transgender youth who face discrimination in public schools.
At Roger Williams LGBT issues can be found in a wide variety of classes—whether that class is taught by an openly LGBT faculty member or not. A number of our faculty write on LGBT-related topics ranging from sodomy laws to gay marriage to LGBT tax law. LGBT issues come into consideration in many ways, both big and small, at the school of law, from including partners in our orientation programming to offering a unisex bathroom for transgender students. RWU Law has limited experience in dealing with transgender students but is committed to offering a welcoming community for all of our students.
Rhode Island is a very LGBT-friendly community. Providence, our capital city, is about a half hour away and offers a diverse gay scene with a range of LGBT and LGBT-friendly bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and clubs. Providence was the first capital city and the largest US city at the time to elect an openly gay mayor, David Cicilline. We are located roughly 15 minutes from the Massachusetts border, an hour from Boston, and three hours from New York City.
If LGBT applicants wish to self-identify, they can do so directly on the RWU Law application through both our LGBT-specific question and by including a Diversity Statement. In our judgment, a diverse group of students enhances the educational experience by ensuring an intellectually enlightening and challenging exchange of ideas both inside and outside the classroom.
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