July 14, 2016–Two University of Houston professors join Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s first LGBT Advisory Board. Maria C. Gonzalez, associate professor of English, and Alan Dettlaff, dean of the Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW), join 47 other diverse Houstonians on the board.
“I am thankful to the mayor for his vision in creating the task force. It is a testament to Houston’s progressive leadership and commitment to create an atmosphere where hate is not tolerated and everyone is welcome,” Dettlaff said. “I am further honored to serve with some of our college’s best and brightest alumni and students: Melanie Pang (task force co-chair), Januari Leo and Becca Keo-Meier. As social workers we are all uniquely suited to lead on issues of social justice.”
Staff member Harrison Guy and student Crystal Solares-Bockmon have also been appointed to the board.
According to a statement released by the mayor’s office, “the board will serve as a direct link between the mayor’s office and the LGBT community, providing advice and recommendations on issues.” The number of board members—49—honors the 49 victims of the recent attack at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
“This is recognition of the importance of the LGBT community to the city and its complete commitment to the broad definition of diversity inclusion,” Gonzalez said. “We want the world to know how LGBT-welcoming our city is, and this is a concrete example."]
Turner announced the formation of this group during LGBT Pride Month, but he says commitment to the LGBT community extends beyond June.
“Let me be clear, our support for the LGBT community is not ending,” he said. “We are standing with Orlando today, and we will be standing with them tomorrow. In Houston, we fight hate with love and inclusion. There is much work to be done, and I can’t wait to get going.”
By Marisa Ramirez