Spectrum Center (University of Michigan) Records

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Spectrum Center (University of Michigan) records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Spectrum Center (University of Michigan) record held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

Researchers may also be interested in the Spectrum Center (University of Michigan) Web Archives.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

University of Michigan office dealing with human sexuality issues for students, faculty and staff. Records consist of administrative and topical files of the Spectrum Center and its predecessor offices, relating to the operation of the office, outreach programs, advocacy efforts, and background on university housing issues, same sex benefits, as well as local, state and national issues pertaining to gay and lesbian rights. Documentation also includes posters, photos, audio-visual material and digital files.

The Sprectrum Center was created in 1971 as the Human Sexuality Office within the Office of Special Services and Programs of the University of Michigan. Initially heading the office were two individuals, a lesbian advocate and a gay male advocate, each of them temporary and part-time. A year later the advocate positions were upgraded to permanent and professional level, but they were still only funded at one-quarter time. Five years later the advocates became funded at one-half time through the efforts of concerned university and community members. In 1980, the office was taken out of the Office of Special Services and Programs and brought under the supervision of the Director of Counseling Services. At this same time, the term advocate was dropped and in its place the position of program coordinator established. By the late 1980s the co-coordinator positions were made full-time. In 1994, the office ceased having two individuals in charge (one for lesbians and one for gay males) and a single director headed the program. Ronni Sanlo served as the first director. It was also at this time that James W. Toy resigned as Gay Male Advocate. Toy was instrumental in the establishment of the office and had served as the Gay Male Advocate for twenty-three years. Over the years, the program has changed its name several times, from the Human Sexuality Office to the Lesbian-Gay Male Programs Office (LGMPO), to the Lesbian-Gay Male-Bisexual Programs Office, to the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs (LGBTA), to the Spectrum Center. The office is administratively located within the office of the Associate Dean of Students in the Office of Students Affairs.

As the first such university office established in the United States, the Human Sexuality Office had no models to emulate. The diverse program created by the two advocates was intended to meet specific needs and concerns. From the beginning education, peer advising and counseling, gay rights advocacy, and community organization were the primary concerns of the Human Sexuality Office. Throughout the history of the office, the advocates sought to educate the university community to dispel myths and stereotypes about gay life. Through classroom presentations, appearances at seminars and conferences, both within and outside the university environment, and consciousness-raising sessions for university units, the office sought to promote an open and supportive environment at the university. The popularity and demand for such presentations soon overwhelmed the advocates and they began a program to train volunteers or facilitators who would go around to the various classes. This emphasis of was designated the Educational Outreach Program and was eventually headed, beginning in 1982, by paid coordinators. Additionally, LGMPO served as a clearinghouse where gay men and lesbians could go for information about gay life and activities.

The counseling program of the office consisted of peer and professional counseling and peer counselor and group facilitator training. The advocates were able to provide short- and long-term professional counseling for individuals, couples, and groups. For a time, the office became home to a 24-hour "Gay Hotline" operated by members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and funded privately by the GLF and others. The Hotline served those individuals, sometimes troubled, who needed to talk with someone of a similar sexual orientation or who could be referred to an appropriate organization or individual with specialized professional training.

Gay rights advocacy was a core mission of the office. Beginning in 1972, one of the important aims of the advocates was working towards an amendment of Regents Bylaw 14.06 to prohibit discrimination within the university community based on sexual orientation. Much of the first public demonstration to revise 14.06 was done by the Gay Liberation Front and then in the 1980s by a student group known as LaGROC (Lesbian and Gay Rights on Campus). Using sit-ins and other non-violent demonstrations, LaGROC dramatized the importance of revising the bylaw. In 1984, pressure from LaGROC was primarily responsible for President Harold Shapiro issuing a Presidential Policy on non-discrimination. Although sexual orientation was still not included as part of 14.06 (the Bylaw was eventually changed in September 1993), the presidential statement was a partial victory for LaGROC, and led to the establishment of the President's Task Force on Sexual Orientation that was intended to oversee the implementation of the Presidential Policy.

The office celebrated its thirtieth anniversary (Fall 2002) under the direction of Frederic MacDonald-Dennis. In the fall of 2005, Jackie Simpson took over as Office Director and in 2008, the name of the office was changed to the Spectrum Center in order to better represent the diversity of identities it serves. In recent years, the Spectrum Center focused on projects such as developing an ally training program, instituting a gender neutral housing policy and advocating for gender identity to be included within university bylaws.

In 2011, the office celebrated its 40th anniversary by holding a series of celebratory events including inviting alumni back to campus and hosting the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC) conference.

In 2014, Will Sherry was appointed Interim Director and was officially named Director in 2015. The center continues to work to ensure that all students have a voice and safe space on the University of Michigan campus by offering a variety of educational and training opportunities, events, as well as resources housed in the Jim Toy Library and Resource Center.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

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