This month, 2U signed the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Business Statement opposing proposed anti-LGBTQIA+ state legislation. By doing so, we joined a list of 183 companies, and growing, in support of the LGBTQIA+ community and against harmful policies created in an effort to restrict the access of LGBTQIA+ people in society. What originated in Texas and Florida—legislation introduced to criminalize gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth and ban instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in certain grades, respectively—is now gaining traction in other states around the country.
At 2U, we believe in creating an inclusive environment for all people. Our culture is one that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) internally and also through our partnerships by designing inviting, accepting, and safe educational spaces that enable learners of all kinds and from all backgrounds to thrive. We are in the business of creating more access to opportunity—not limiting potential.
The bills being introduced in state houses across the country that target LGBTQIA+ individuals are dangerous and exclusionary to our LGBTQIA+ employees and their families. They’re also a threat to students, educators, and anyone else who holds dear our basic human rights—from the freedom of speech to the freedom to learn regardless of our sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, or color of our skin. The legislation taking shape in Texas and Florida undermines the rights and abilities of future generations to shape a more equitable tomorrow—and it’s detrimental to the progress we’ve made as a civil society.
The View from 2Q, Our LGBTQIA+ Network
As 2U’s Vice President of DEI, I’ve heard first-hand the emotional toll these initiatives have had for employees across 2U. Rather than speak on their behalf, I asked Jess Samuels, the global chair of 2Q, 2U’s LGBTQIA+ Business Resource Network, to share what this legislation means for so many people in Texas, Florida, and beyond.
“2U taking a stand against anti-LGBTQIA+ state legislation sends an important message to our employees, their families, our university partners, and their students,” Jess says. “It’s been hard. Throughout the 2Q community, I’m seeing how shaken our LGBTQIA+ employees have become in the midst of such damaging and discriminatory legislation popping up in state after state. There’s an overwhelming feeling of attack on our identity as well as our safety.”
Many employees, Jess explains, are feeling particularly vulnerable because much of the legislation is aimed at transgender youth.
“We think of our own kids, nephews, nieces, and chosen family,” she says, “and imagine that same impact on any other parent accused of child abuse—only because they’re trying to support their child’s gender identity. From homelessness to suicide, it’s heartbreaking to think how much more at-risk these legislative battles put our already vulnerable LGBTQIA+ youth. At 2U, I’m grateful to be welcomed as my true, authentic self. I’m also thankful to work for a company that leverages its collective influence to tell states that their ongoing business and investment is dependent on creating a safe environment for all LGBTQIA+ people.”
Ways to Educate and Empower Yourself
One of the best ways to combat injustice is through education. If you are searching for opportunities to learn more about identity, activism, and DEI in an effort to better understand proposed legislation and its potential ramifications, we’ve compiled a list of 2U-powered online courses to get you started:
- Health Across the Gender Spectrum offers illustrated stories and videos of six transgender children and their families, through which learners can gain a better understanding of gender identity and the gender spectrum.
- Doing Gender and Why It Matters from the University of Hong Kong explores the concepts of "sex" and "gender" across history and cultures.