Many faculty, staff and students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ+) often struggle to manage their identity and navigate their lives both at work and in the community. Finding people with common experiences and allies helps these individuals have successful professional and personal lives.
Van Harrison, Ph.D., a long-time faculty member in the Department of Learning Health Sciences, came out in his 40s — around 30 years ago. He said he has witnessed and influenced many positive changes for LGBTQ+ faculty, staff and students at Michigan Medicine.
“I had a positive experience with my personal doctor and workplace when I first came out,” said Harrison. When Harrison met his partner of 29 years, their relationship was accepted by his department, such as at events that included an employee’s spouse.
Harrison realizes that, even now, acceptance is not always the case for people who come out. Many still experience negativity from their family, work peers and health care providers. To help alleviate those issues, Harrison has been a leader in creating safe spaces for faculty and staff as one of the founding members of the U-M LGBTQ Faculty Alliance, a group dedicated to providing support, feedback and education to the entire U-M community.
“I appreciate the work that people who came before me did to create a safe work place,” said Lori-Jene Brazier, a chaplain with Spiritual Care who is also a queer person. Brazier, who began her career at Michigan Medicine in 2016, recognizes that leadership within Michigan Medicine also plays a role in creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ faculty, staff and students.
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