Zoe Berg, Contributing Illustrator

The LGBTQ+ Steering Committee is looking forward to a year of in-person events, including improv performances, parties and pickleball.

As part of the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group for staff, faculty and postdoctoral students, the committee advocates for policies that advance the interest of Yale’s LGBTQ+ community. This year, the group plans to host several events to foster community among LGBTQ+ staff at Yale.

“This group is a way to help employees from smaller or marginalized groups form community and to feel like they belong here at Yale,” Cayetana Navarro, co-chair of the committee and program manager of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Yale School of Medicine wrote in an email to the News.

The group has already held a “Welcome Back” happy hour at the September in Bangkok restaurant and hosted an informational table at a New Haven pride event to recruit LGBTQ+ applicants to the University. Over the summer, the committee hosted a book club with Jeanne Thornton, a transgender author. 

For the upcoming semester, the committee plans to facilitate an improv performance by Hartford comedy company Sea Tea, a Halloween party and sporting events like a pickleball tournament and volleyball. Before the winter recess, the group will also hold a storytelling workshop for Yale’s LGBTQ+ community.

For many of its members, the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group was one of the only places where they found community when they started working at the University.

“It’s very important, as are all of the affinity groups at Yale,” Navarro wrote. “In addition to the social component, we offer speakers, educational workshops, professional development and athletic opportunities.”

On Sept. 20, the Steering Committee held its first monthly meeting of the semester to outline its new policies, events and plans for the rest of the fall semester.

The monthly meetings are an opportunity for LGBTQ+ faculty, staff and postdoctoral students to connect, and learn about past and upcoming events. The committee has conducted its monthly meetings to Zoom since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While meetings will stay online, the committee now hopes to hold most of its events for the year in person. 

“We found that attendance is helped by the ease of Zoom as it allows people to tune in from the comfort of their home or office and prevents the need to potentially travel long distances,” Navarro wrote. “Our events, however, have started to go back to in-person.”

The Steering Committee is a part of the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, which is open to all Yale staff, faculty and postdoctoral students.

“Our community center provides meeting space, networking opportunities and marketing support to our affiliated organizations,” Samuel Byrd, director of the Office of LGBTQ+ Resources, wrote in an email to the News.

According to its website, the primary goals of the committee are to create a network for all LGBTQ+ Yale employees, support diversity at Yale, work with state and New Haven LGBTQ+ communities and advocate for improvements to policies that affect LGBTQ+ Yale employees.  The group also works with other affinity groups to support their initiatives.

“The group advocates for any LGBTQ+ matters, issues and events and also works with the other affinity groups to help support their initiatives,” Heather Riggio, former co-chair of communications, wrote in an email to the News. “The group has supported things like the addition of pronouns to badges and [various] applications as well as working to change some healthcare policies for LGBTQ employees and students.” 

The University has eight faculty and staff affinity groups.

Tristan Hernandez covers student policy and affairs for the News. He is also a copy editor and previously reported on student life. Originally from Austin, Texas, he is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in political science.