Thursday, November 10, 2016

Iowa has long been a trailblazer in working to become a more inclusive and welcoming institution for  LGBTQ+ individuals. Read about these significant milestones in the university’s journey.


1970    The UI becomes the first state university to officially recognize and continuously fund a gay student organization.

1970    The Daily Iowan runs a five-part series on the gay liberation movement on campus.

1974    The first of three annual Midwest Gay Pride Conferences is held at the Iowa Memorial Union, featuring panel discussions, workshops, and nationally known speakers.

1977    Iowa City passes the state’s first anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual preference, protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, credit transactions, and public accommodations.


1985    UI President James Freedman approves a campus-wide ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, though the policy is not included in the university’s operations manual until 1995.


1991    The UI LGBTQ Staff and Faculty Association is established.

1991    The UI College of Law hires an openly lesbian couple to its faculty.

1992    The UI becomes the first public university to provide benefit coverage to domestic partners of employees.

1996    The UI adds gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy, making it the first university to do so.

1996    Iowa City becomes one of the first U.S. cities to extend protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

1998    The UI endorses Safe Zone certification for faculty and staff.


2000    The UI offers the first Rainbow Graduation to celebrate the achievements of LGBTQ graduates and their allies.

2006    The Pride Alliance Center opened in fall 2006 as a space to interact with other LGBTQ students and enhance the student educational experience.

2007    The state of Iowa outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, making it the 18th state to offer such protection for gay people and the ninth to protect transgender people.

2009    Iowa Supreme Court upholds same-sex marriage.


2010    Safe Zone becomes an official initiative of the Chief Diversity Office.

2011    The UI earns 4.5 out of 5 stars in the Campus Pride LGBTQ-Friendly Campus Climate Index, based on student life options, campus resources, and recruitment and retention efforts.

2012    The UI becomes the first public university to include optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on its admission application.

2012    UI Health Care opens the state’s first medical clinic that focuses on the LGBTQ community.

2013    Safe Zone begins offering workshops on transgender inclusivity.

2014    Iowa City is one of 47 cities (out of 408 cities rated by the Human Rights Campaign and the Quality Federation Institute) that scores a perfect 100 on the Municipal Equality Index, which measures fairness and equality for LGBTQ individuals and their families. The city repeats the feat in 2015 and 2016.

2016    The UI becomes one of the first universities in the nation to ask students for their preferred names and pronouns of reference, and to offer a third gender option.

2016    The UI is recognized as one of the Top 50 Best LGBT Friendly Colleges and Universities, as selected by College Choice.


2020    The UI adds a section to its Editorial Style Guide to address bias in language, including LGBTQ+ terminology, pronoun usage, and nonbinary gender identities. The university also creates a new Diversity Style Guide, which has since served as a model for other municipalities and universities across the country.

2020    UI Hospitals & Clinics earns a perfect score in the Healthcare Equality Index, the national LGBTQ+ benchmarking tool of the Human Rights Campaign.

2021    A UI graduate student in the Department of History forms the nonprofit LGBTQ Iowa Archives and Library to collect, preserve, and share the LGBTQ+ history of Iowa and increase access to LGBTQ+ literature for all ages.

2021    UI students create the Iowa City Queer Trans Clothing Closet, a nonprofit organization that provides free, gender-neutral or gender-affirming clothing.