Date of Defense


Date of Graduation


First Advisor

Susan Freeman

Second Advisor

Tracy Hall

Third Advisor

Kerrie Harvey


In 2011, Western Michigan University was one of three Michigan universities to be ranked in the Top 25 Gay Friendly Universities according to Newsweek and the Daily Beast. This is not surprising considering WMU’s current 4.5 out of 5 score on the Campus Pride Index. The Campus Pride Index lists 362 universities and WMU is one of 22 with a score of 4.5. In the LGBT-Friendly Campus Report, there are only eight areas identified that are not currently in place at WMU, one of which is an LGBT studies program. I decided, given my interest in the Student Affairs profession, to create a co-curricular leadership program that will enhance knowledge around sexual orientation and gender identity and build leadership skills in the contexts of civic engagement and social justice within the campus and community. This project is supported by Jennifer Hsu, Coordinator for the Office of Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) Student Services with additional resources from Kate Bates, Associate Director of Student Activities and Leadership Programs (SALP).

Throughout the fall and spring semesters, students will engage in events, discussions, and program development that reflect the program’s five learning outcomes:

  • Obtain knowledge of important historical moments and social movements within the LBGT community
  • Strengthen understanding of identities within the LBGT community
  • Acquire leadership skills in LBGT advocacy
  • Experience how LBGT activism fits in the broader context of social justice work
  • Expand leadership skills and gain professional development opportunities

This report is divided into three major areas. Chapter 1 will cover background information regarding co-curricular programs, diversity and inclusion at WMU, as well as a comparative look at two similar programs at Grand Valley State University and University of California - Los Angeles. Chapter 2 will describe the program structure, learning outcomes, additional program tools, and budgets. Lastly, Chapter 3 will address questions regarding the future of the program beyond its first year.

Since beginning this project, the program’s working title, Continuums, has been changed to OutFront: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Leadership Program. Overseen by the Office of LBGT Student Services, the program will begin in August 2013. The name change reflects the idea of coming out and coming to the front as a leader. OutFront will foster leadership, social justice engagement, and education regarding the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity. Students will work together to complete the program with opportunities for individual development as well as broader cultural change on campus. This program will be another piece in Western Michigan University’s continued commitment to diversity, inclusion, and the development of student leaders.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access