Ally and Artist Added to LGBTQ Advisory Board - University of Houston
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DSAES News
April 14, 2021

Join us in welcoming two new members to the University of Houston LGBTQ Advisory Board: Julianne Knowles, director of primary care for the University Eye Institute, College of Optometry and "mama bear" of a transgender youth; and Eric Schell, Houston-based artist and founder and president of nationally-renowned Pride Portraits.

Julianne Knowles

Julianne Knowles

Eric Edward Schell

Eric Schell

The pair began their two-year term on September 1, 2020, with ambitions "to improve representation, equality, services," and programming across campus. After careful selection by the LGBTQ Resource Center, these applicants have both shown that they are committed to making sure this campus is the best that it can be for all students. New additions to the UH LGBTQ Resource Center's Advisory Board bring with them new perspectives that spot issues yet to be addressed and new methods with which to address them.

Julianne Knowles has grown into her allyship "as she matured as a person, mother, professor, and medical professional." Her journey began with her service as an optometrist in the U.S. Navy in the era of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and despite not being impacted by the policy directly, "she realized the need to be a visible ally and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community." She joined the University of Houston in 2006 and now works "to be part of the positive impact for support and resources for LGBTQ youth" on campus.

Dr. Knowles is an LGBTQ Cougar Ally and is an open-minded, active listener. She is also an educator for the next generation of health care.

Eric Schell has been a well-known name in the Houston LGBTQ community since founding Pride Portraits in June 2016. Mx. Schell has several friends who are UH alumni and their stories of how "the Resource Center was a safe space" motivated Schell to apply for the seat on the advisory board. Mx. Schell knows "the importance of a space that celebrates and affirms every aspect of one's identity" due to their experience being "a Trans, non-binary individual who is also gay and a person of color." So they applied to join the LGBTQ Advisory Board to "create and implement more trans and non-binary inclusive programming."

The UH LGBTQ Resource Center provides support and a safe space for LGBTQ students to access resources, ask questions, and make connections with other students. Through visibility and education, they seek to create an environment of LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion for the entire campus community. Services include a lending library, mentoring program, Cougar Ally Training, and discussion groups.