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Future JD Students

LGBT Survey Results: William & Mary Law School

Nondiscrimination Policy

Unless otherwise constrained by law, William & Mary is committed to providing an environment for its students that is free from discrimination based on any personal factor unrelated to qualifications or performance such as race or color, citizenship, national origin or ethnicity, ancestry, religion or creed, political affiliation or belief, age, sex or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, marital status, pregnancy status, parental status, height, weight, military service, veteran status, caretaker status, or family medical or genetic information.

For more information, visit Equity Program: Discrimination Prevention and Response.

LGBT Student Organization(s)

LGBT and ally students take advantage of speakers and events hosted by the Equality Alliance at the law school and the Lambda Alliance on William & Mary’s undergraduate campus. Events include speakers, movies, brown bag lunches, and advocacy activities. Both organizations are great resources for students.

Inquiries may be sent to, or you may contact the Admission Office at

Phone: 757.221.3785

LGBT Faculty


LGBT Administrator(s)


LGBT Course(s)

LGBT-specific courses are listed below. However, LGBT issues are raised in many classes, not just topic-specific courses, as LGBT law has become part of every area of the law, from family to tax to government law.

Constitution & the Family Seminar (Law 569)

The Supreme Court has in many ways “constitutionalized” the family—mandating application of select constitutional clauses in deciding many family law disputes. This seminar examines the development of the Court’s jurisprudence and explores how (and whether) it implicates numerous contemporary issues, including the extent to which certain family practices should escape state regulation; the constitutional status of marriage (including same-sex and polygamous marriage); limits on child-rearing and parental rights (including the parental rights of adults not biologically related to a child); and reproductive rights (including rights to alternative methods of reproduction and surrogacy). The seminar will also examine state policy-making responses to changing family structures and shifting constitutional doctrine.

Employment Discrimination (Law 452)

This course introduces the laws prohibiting discrimination in employment because of race, national origin, sex, religion, age, and disability. In particular, the course emphasizes federal statutory protections provided by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students have the opportunity to grapple with the theories at work in employment discrimination law, to trace the evolving judicial interpretations of the antidiscrimination statutes, and to learn practical skills at dealing with the special problems inherent in the litigation of employment discrimination cases.

Gender and Human Rights Seminar (Law 607)

This course studies and critically assesses the role of international human rights law in bringing about social change. The course uses gender, specifically the treatment and status of women, as a lens for exploring this issue. The course begins with theories on state behavior, which will provide a foundation for exploring the role of law in changing state practices. Topics to be explored will include international trafficking of women, gender and citizenship, women’s political participation, the regulation of gender issues by customary law in plural legal systems, women’s access to land, violence against women, and gender mainstreaming in national policy development. Through study of these specific topics, students will examine the potential and limits of law as a mechanism for bringing about particular substantive changes within a society or organization.

Law & Social Justice (Law 501)

This seminar will discuss whether and to what extent our legal system, including its law schools, perpetuates or counteracts social injustice. Many of the readings derive from modern critical legal theory, particularly critical race theory and radical feminism, and from liberal and nonliberal responses thereto. These readings primarily address the subordination of particular groups in our society and ways in which taken-for-granted legal categories—such as objective/subjective, public/private, and negative rights/positive rights—serve to entrench hierarchies of power and wealth. Other readings include foundational political theories (e.g., Mill, Rawls, Nozick) and classic texts on topics such as civil disobedience and justified revolution. Discussions will mostly be student-directed.

Tying the Knot—Relationship Recognition for Same-Sex Couples (Law 676)

In 1972, the Supreme Court of the United States dismissed “for want of a federal question” an appeal of a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that a state law limiting marriage to couples of the opposite sex did not violate the US Constitution. Forty-two years later, 17 states and the District of Columbia recognize marriages of same-sex couples, the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government must recognize such marriages, and several federal district courts have ruled that state prohibitions of such marriages violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. This one-credit seminar will review the history of relationship recognition for LGBT couples from the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement through current litigation in the federal courts. The course will examine early attempts at legal recognition of same-sex couples and couples that include a transgender woman or man; the development of statewide domestic partnership registries; state law litigation for marriage rights; passage of the defense of marriage act (DOMA) and its effect on LGBT couples and their families; early victories in state courts establishing civil unions and marriage rights for same-sex couples; legislative responses to such recognition; and the push for marriage recognition through ballot initiatives, legislation, and state and federal litigation. The seminar will be presented through traditional case and statutory materials integrated with an analysis of historical context and the development of constitutional protections of LGBT individuals and the right to marry.

Domestic-Partner or Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

No details provided.

Additional Information

To learn about LGBT life from our students directly, visit LGBT (& Ally) Life at W&M Law.

While Williamsburg is a relatively small community, we are in close proximity to Richmond, Newport News, and the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, where there is a more prevalent LGBT nightlife.

Virginia is a rather conservative state, but many of our students feel that Williamsburg and the law school community are supportive in their interactions and understanding of the law school LGBT population. The law school staff is knowledgeable about many issues affecting the LGBT community and how to be respectful of them.

In the law school application process, how an applicant addresses their sexual orientation or identity is up to them, and it is under their discretion whether they disclose any personal information. We have successfully enrolled students from across the LGBT spectrum, including transgender students.

Back to LGBT Survey Link

May 21, 2014, 13:28 PM

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