“When we talk about diversity, inclusion, and excellence at Penn, we have to be holistic and expansive enough in our thinking to realize that LGBTQ issues and concerns are central to our educational and social mission. It is thus only fitting for SP2 to carve out space of intellectual and institutional leadership on this front, and make sure that we are educating ourselves to be as rigorous and respectful as we can on issues of gender and sexuality.”
– Dr. John L. Jackson, Jr.
The School secured a major gift in 2015 from a very generous alumnus to establish the SP2 LGBTQ Fund. This fund is providing financial support for LGBTQ event programming, LGBTQ curriculum enhancement, and training. That gift is being used in combination with funding from the Penn Futures project, Provost’s Office, Fels Institute of Government, and the Center for Public Health Initiatives to support the following on-going projects.
Local and State Policy
In partnership with The Attic, Philadelphia’s LGBTQ youth center, Associate Professor Dr. Amy Hillier has worked closely with the School District of Philadelphia to develop and implement Policy 252 protecting the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming students. Dr. Hillier and Assistant Professor Dr. Amy Castro Baker are researching the experiences of teachers with Policy 252 with graduate education students and staff from CHOP’s Policy Link. Read more about the partnership between SP2’s Sex Gen Policy Lab and The Attic’s Bryson Center and watch this video.
Dr. Hillier is also working with the Pennsylvania Office of the ACLU to block state legislation in Pennsylvania that would prohibit public funds from covering transition-related care for transgender youth and adults through CHIP, Medicaid and state employee health insurance programs. Watch Dr. Hillier’s video and read details about the legislation.
Queering the Curriculum
Dr. Hillier and Dr. Castro Baker are working with faculty and students from the School of Nursing, Graduate School of Education, Penn’s LGBT Center, and CHOP’s Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic to better prepare emerging professionals to work with LGBT communities. This includes insuring that graduate students develop foundational competencies in working with LGBT communities and working to develop a new cross-school certificate program. These efforts include making and distributing pronoun buttons, encouraging faculty and instructors to respect gender identity by sharing and asking pronouns in the classroom.
Through a separate Penn Futures grant, Assistant Professor Dr. Allison Werner-Lin and colleagues at the Schools of Nursing and Education, along with community leaders and experts, have developed a new simulation-based learning experience to promote best clinical practices and inter-professional collaboration around serving LGBTQ-identified students/patients.
LGBTQ Youth Experiences with Housing Instability
Dr. Castro Baker is partnering with community-based agencies and SP2 students to determine the relationships between housing instability, gender identity, market access, and aging out of foster care.
Gender and Wealth Gaps
Gender and race both shape one’s access to housing, employment, and asset accumulation, but little data exists demonstrating how these trends intersect and impact LGBTQ individuals across the lifespan. By combining the LGBTQ fund with external funding, Dr. Castro Baker is partnering with a national policy work group to develop models informing grant-makers on how they can close wealth and housing gaps experienced by LGBT women.
Transcribez Youth Writing Group
SP2 provides support for Transcribez, a creative writing group for trans and gender non-conforming youth. The group meets monthly at Kelly Writer’s House or Penn’s LGBT Center and features monthly guest writers.
QSP2 Student Group
QSP2 supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) students and their allies. The group’s purpose is to offer social activities, advocate for LGBTQ rights and services in SP2, and to serve as a group within the University-wide network of LGBTQ organizations at Penn. QSP2 has been instrumental in infusing LGBTQIA+ content into the SP2 curricula, building coalitions with other organizations, increasing visibility of LGBTQIA+ SP2 students, and providing emotional and social support to the LGBTIA+ community at Penn. QSP2 hosts monthly conversations with local social work professionals and other experts on topics such as exploring unique and diverse consensual sexual experiences, asexuality, and managing queer identities in professional settings.
SexGen Policy Lab
The SexGen Policy Lab is co-led by Dr. Castro Baker and Dr. Hillier. The lab aims to build and disseminate knowledge at the intersection of critical theory, gender, and sexuality with a distinct emphasis on applied policy, economic, and housing research. Their work positions social science research on gender in a posture of resilience and strength to be leveraged for social change, social supports, and policy innovation. They reconceptualize policy work as needing to occur across the public and private institutions that inform and infuse the lives of people experiencing marginalization in society and the housing economy – particularly those of LGBTQ youth who are most at risk.
The lab provides methodological and theoretical scaffolding while serving as a research hub for Penn students, faculty, and community partners who co-lead research efforts. Current projects include community-based research on gender, housing policy, asset accumulation, and the experience of marginalized populations in housing and policy systems. They employ a range of methodology including mixed-methods, program evaluation, exploratory qualitative research, and critical participatory action research. Funding for the SexGen Policy lab is generously provided by the Penn Futures Project and an alumni gift to the School of Social Policy & Practice.