Magazine Feature / People

Student aims to make DU even more LGBT inclusive

Christopher Turner is on a mission. He wants DU to be among the top 100 LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) inclusive campuses in the nation within the next five years.

He has spent the last six months working on his goal through the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning’s Morgridge Community Scholars program.

Funded by a $315,000 gift from the Morgridge Family Foundation, the Community Scholars program is designed for DU students interested in combining critical thinking and critical action by making their “Big Idea” to address a social justice issue in the community a reality. Student participants in the six-month program, which launched in January, followed a project structure that included research and development and implementation of a project plan.

Turner, a senior philosophy major and gender and woman’s studies minor, has always been interested in increasing campus LGBT acceptance and inclusivity. He says that overall, DU is doing well when compared to other institutions when it comes to creating an inclusive environment.

“We have supportive policies and a staff position dedicated to these issues,” Turner says. “We also have ‘out’ faculty, staff and administrators, but there is still work to do to make LGBT students feel fully accepted.”

Working with AUSA Senator Dillon Doyle, Turner drafted a gender neutral housing and bathroom policy. The housing policy would allow students to reside with a person of a different gender regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, assuming all roommate parties agree to gender neutral roommate policies, and sign the gender neutral housing waver. The neutral bathroom plan will allow any person of any sexual orientation and gender identity to use any bathroom on campus.

Turner also met with professors in the Gender and Women’s Studies department to lay the groundwork to establish a Queer Studies minor, hosted a workshop on “Racism and Sexism in Queer Communities” at the annual Diversity Summit, and hosted a Queer Community Dinner for members of DU’s LGBT community to talk about their experiences on campus.

Turner is proud of the work that he accomplished during the program. “I received a lot more positive response than I was expecting,” he says. “I didn’t expect much, but I’ve received more than I ever thought possible.”

Jenny Whitcher, associate director of CCESL, agrees. “Christopher is tenacious, hard working, intelligent, and passionately dedicated to social justice,” she says. “He has spent the last two quarters researching his issue, learning the processes and power structures at DU, building relationships, organizing people, writing new policy and creating tangible change at DU. He’s accomplished a great deal in only two quarters.”

Turner hopes to continue his work next fall as the president of the Queer Straight Alliance and as the Undergraduate LGBTIQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Allies) and Social Justice Services Coordinator at the Center for Multicultural Excellence.

“Through the Morgridge Community Scholars program, I learned that I have the power to change my environment,” says Turner. “I know that I can work with the system to change policy — these are real skills that will help me in the future.”

Ed. Note: An earlier version of this story misrepresented the status of Turner’s policy in front of University administration. Some parts of the policy have been reviewed by DU’s Housing and Residential Education office and taken under consideration. To view DU’s guide to campus living, visit:


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