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Future JD Students

LGBT Survey Results: Washington University School of Law

Nondiscrimination Policy

Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid, and employment. The university does not discriminate in access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, veteran status, disability, or genetic information. Inquiries about compliance should be addressed to:

University’s Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
Washington University
Campus Box 1184
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130

LGBT Student Organization(s)

With 13 official LGBT groups at the undergraduate, graduate and professional, faculty and staff, and alumni levels, the university supports multiple ways for LGBT individuals to get involved on campus.


OUTLaw is a student-run group with a strong and well-respected presence in the law school community. This year, OUTLaw will host the 12th Annual Midwest LGBTQ Law Conference. Additionally, OUTLaw provides a variety of social and outreach programming throughout the year aimed at engaging law students in their community, including a lunch discussion series throughout the semester and a law school-wide event on National Coming Out Day. OUTLaw volunteers with the LGBT Center of St. Louis and plans to program a legal clinic day at the center once a semester. OUTLaw will also sponsor a speaker during the fall semester to discuss employment discrimination against LGBT individuals. These activities contribute to a welcoming and inclusive climate at the law school.

OUTLaw also coordinates with OUTGrads, the university-wide LGBT organization for all graduate students.


Jesse Doggendorf

Sergio Ibarra


Marie Stephens


Elizabeth Doyon

LGBT Faculty

Commitment to LGBT equality comes as much from the faculty and administration as it does from the students. For instance, Adrienne Davis, Professor of Law, has a dual appointment and also serves as Vice Provost of the university. As Vice Provost, she oversees faculty development, diversity, and other campuswide initiatives.

Other LGBT faculty members include Karen Tokarz (, Peggie Smith, Bill Dorothy, Annette Appell, Kathleen Clark, Barbara Flagg, and Lee Epstein, along with many allies among the faculty and staff.

LGBT Administrator(s)

Will Fruhwirth
Admissions Officer

LGBT Course(s)

  • Sexuality and the Law (Denise Lieberman): This course will introduce students to existing and emerging jurisprudence in areas of sexuality and the law with an emphasis on practical litigation perspectives. The course will examine case law in the context of current legal debates related to gender and sexual orientation in the areas of privacy, equal protection, employment, speech, education, family law (including marriage and parenting), military exclusions, and transgender issues, helping students understand how to devise litigation strategy and assess the impact of emerging litigation and test cases. The course is directed to students interested in learning about substantive law related to sexuality and sexual orientation and to students interested in developing an understanding of public interest and impact lawyering in emerging civil rights arenas. Students will analyze emerging cases and be asked to assess their impact potential, the application of existing precedent, and strategic and ethical issues that the cases raise. Class time will include periodic visits by lawyers practicing in topic areas who will help frame the issues and offer practical insight to the practice.
  • Feminist Legal Theory: In this course, we will read feminist theory, queer theory, and other critical theory in order to examine constructions of gender and the roles legal systems play in those constructions. We will explore some of the general themes and debates that have emerged as theorists attempt to understand and critique the law’s explicit and implicit constructions of gender as they relate to various groups of women and men. These themes and debates will include the promise and limits of equal protection doctrine, attempts to challenge the gender neutrality of social norms, intersectionality and the meaning of gender, and the benefits and harms of identity politics. We will also explore specific applications of theory to law and social policy, including topics related to work and wealth distribution, intimate and familial relationships, identity performance and constraints on agency, and the regulation of sexuality.
  • Critical Jurisprudence (Barbara Flagg): This course is an introduction to contemporary critical legal analysis; it surveys Critical Legal Studies, Feminist Jurisprudence, and Critical Race Theory, as well as other less readily labeled approaches concerned with the law’s interactions with the distribution of social and material power and privilege. Covered topics will include a critical deconstruction of contract doctrines such as duress and unconscionability, a feminist analysis of the law of domestic violence, and a black scholar’s critique of antidiscrimination law. The emphasis will be on normative, rather than descriptive, analyses of existing law. The assigned readings will be selected law review articles; assignments will be substantial.
  • Adoption and Assisted Reproduction (Susan Appleton): This two-unit course, which adds to the family law curriculum, examines the ways that law constructs our understanding of parenthood and the parent-child relationship. In particular, this course focuses on adoption and assisted reproduction, two ways to create families without sexual procreation. Coverage of adoption entails a review of its history as a child-welfare measure, examination of the adoption process, and consideration of the legal consequences of adoption (including variations such as equitable adoption, stepparent adoption, and second-parent adoption). Important and timely policy debates—such as adoptions by gays and lesbians, transracial adoption, confidentiality versus disclosure of adoption records, and open adoption—all receive attention. The course compares and contrasts adoption with its modern “alternatives,” including various forms of assisted reproduction (donor insemination, in vitro fertilization, egg donation, traditional and gestational surrogacy, and embryo adoption), methods of family creation used traditionally by infertile couples and, increasingly, by single individuals and gay and lesbian couples. Again, sharply contested policy issues are emphasized (such as parentage rules for children born from collaborative reproduction, the effect of private agreements, and the role of race, class, sexual orientation, and gender in assisted reproduction). For both adoption and assisted reproduction, coverage includes arrangements that cross state and international boundaries, such as intercountry adoptions and “reproductive tourism.” Throughout the course, references to various works of literature, film, and popular culture help bring to life the course’s topics and themes, which touch deep emotions by raising issues of identity, ancestral roots, and family secrets.

Domestic-Partner or Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

Full domestic-partnership benefits have been available university-wide since 1994. Any language used describing benefits to faculty, staff, or students that refers to “spouse,” also says “or domestic partner.”

Additional Information

Washington University is the only institution of higher education in Missouri to receive 5 out of 5 stars on the Campus Pride LGBT Campus Climate Index. This top rating is an indication of the university’s strong commitment to providing a safe and welcoming experience for LGBT students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, the rating is the direct result of Washington University’s support of LGBT-inclusive policies such as a dedicated LGBT coordinator and Advisory Board, same-sex partner benefits, gender-neutral housing and bathrooms, and health care for trans individuals.

The university launched a Bias Report and Support System in 2014, which provides a safe and confidential mechanism for supporting all students who experience or witness any form of bias, harassment, or discrimination.

The university culture of LGBT support extends to the Washington University School of Law.

There is a vibrant LGBT community in St. Louis, which received a perfect score on the first Municipal Equality Index report—a national ranking of LGBT support services in municipal areas. St. Louis is unique in the way it embraces its LGBT community, especially for a city of its size. Many firms and corporations in the city have antidiscrimination policies in the workplace that protect LGBT individuals, although there is no recognition of LGBT employment discrimination on a statewide level yet. Missouri still has a constitutional amendment on the books that defines marriage as between one man and one woman; however, there are many local resources, events, organizations, and churches that do great work to ensure that St. Louis remains a welcoming oasis in a more conservative state.

Back to LGBT Survey Link

May 21, 2014, 13:28 PM

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