Title: Professor, Human Development & Family Studies
Expertise: Expanding Safe Spaces for LGBT and all students
There’s been an enormous climate change in recent years, but not one that can be measured in degrees. It’s been a shift in social climate affecting the lives and well being of all people, especially those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. This changing climate is the backdrop for Professor Annemarie Vaccaro’s work.
The author of Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth, the first book to offer a comprehensive view of the complex lives of LGBT youth of all ages, Professor Vaccaro is a national leader providing clear, research-based steps to creating safe and welcoming environments for all.
“I’m committed to teaching and research that has tangible effects on people’s lives. The suicide rate for LGBT youth is far too high and all of us — educators, family and friends — have a big role to play in creating environments where LGBT youth don’t just survive, but thrive,” said Professor Vaccaro.
By teaching graduate students and others how to facilitate conversations about diversity, by creating the unique “URI LGBT Faculty Fellows” program and leading workshops to engage faculty and staff in the effort, by actively participating in leading diversity commissions and more, this one Professor is showing that a warm and welcoming community is created by all – not just one.
Last year, Professor Vaccaro co-advised (with Holly Nichols and Carolyn Sovet) the student group creating the film It Gets Better at URI: Coming Out for Change that demonstrated the meaning of URI’s commitment to its diverse community. She cited the film, the plans for the new LGBT Center on Upper College Road, and appointment of an associate vice president of Community, Equity and Diversity as clear indicators of the climate changing in Kingston.
“The bottom line — on campus and in my profession, I challenge us all to work together to create affirming and inclusive campus environments that are welcoming, validating and healthy for all students, faculty, and staff,” Professor Vaccaro said.