With a major gift from a Penn Dental Medicine alumnus, the school has established the LGBTQ+ Fund with the goal of identifying LGBTQ+ based biases in the dental profession and ways to dispel them. The $50,000 leadership gift launches the fund with the goal of eventually endowing it to support research and programs in perpetuity.
“A central tenet of Penn Dental Medicine’s mission statement is a commitment to fostering a humanistic environment where all individuals and their integrity are valued, respected, and empowered,” said Penn Dental Medicine Morton Amsterdam Dean Dr. Mark S. Wolff.
“As an academic community, understanding the root of homophobia, transphobia, and bias related to actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity requires intentional study,” Wolff said.
A top priority of the Fund will be to explore research and programming that can lead to best-practice models and suggest policy recommendations that can have profession-wide impact through scholarly publications, Penn Dental said. Activities may include:
- Internal climate surveys of the Penn Dental Medicine community
- Data collection, analysis, and dissemination of results of attitudinal surveys about comfort levels and concerns
- Development of enduring resources to support current and future students
- Research opportunities to work collaboratively with other offices at the university to explore LGBTQ+ issues more broadly
- Training programs exploring sexual orientation and gender identity and bias and offering guidance for managing difficult conversations
- Invited speakers and conferences/symposia focusing on topics related to the LGBTQ+ community
- Providing resources for education and advocacy so all Penn Dental Medicine community members, regardless of actual or perceived gender identity and sexual orientation, are supported to live authentically
While this fund will be the first dedicated resource at Penn Dental Medicine to support such efforts, the school hosted its first annual Pride Celebration in October of 2019, held virtually in 2020 due to COVID-19, and has an active LGBTQ+ student organization, the Penn Dental Pride Alliance. The school also expects to work closely with Penn’s LGBT Center and other relevant university resources and personnel on the fund’s initiatives.