The University of Toronto is a dynamic place to study the law, particularly as a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community. Not only does UofT offer a wide array of programs and opportunities for LGBT students, but the faculty resides within one of the most queer-friendly cities in North America.
Out in Law at UofT
Out in Law is a student group at UofT dedicated to fostering a positive environment for LGBT students at the law school. Out in Law serves as a resource to LGBT students, with a focus on helping each student develop academically, socially and professionally. Members choose their level of involvement, and confidentiality is always respected. Below is a summary of Out in Law’s initiatives:
- Academically, Out in Law organizes a variety of speaker events throughout the school year on current legal issues facing the LGBT community locally and around the globe. Further, upper-year Out in Law members provide informal academic mentorship to 1L students.
- Socially, Out in Law executes a busy social calendar, organizing intimate events for group members and networking events with other Ontario law schools and graduate programs at UofT. Members of the group participate in Toronto’s annual Pride celebration by attending many of the festivities, running in the Pride Remembrance Run and marching in the Pride Parade.
- Professionally, Out in Law serves as a valuable resource for its members, connecting law students with LGBT alumni and organizing groups of students to attend professional development events. Most notably, Out in Law members often attend Toronto’s annual Out on Bay Street conference, which gives law students an excellent opportunity to network with top Toronto law firms and attend information sessions on finding success in the corporate world as an LGBT individual.
To be added to Out in Law’s listserv and hear about our current events, please email email@example.com.
Academic Opportunities at UofT Law
UofT presents students with a variety of ways to engage with LGBT legal issues in an academic sense.
The school’s International Human Rights Program (IHRP) often wrestles with these issues, particularly through its working group on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI).
UofT law students may also work towards a J.D./Certificate in Sexual Diversity and Gender Studies as part of their degree. Designed for students who have an interest in examining questions about how we understand sexual diversity and sexual practices, the Certificate in Sexual Diversity and Gender Studies allows students to explore issues including how we frame and categorize sexual differences, why we fear some and celebrate others, and how medical, religious and political authorities respond to them. The program complements students’ legal training by providing an interdisciplinary framework within which concepts and methods from the study of law can be applied to a relevant topic Sexual Diversity Studies.
Co-Curricular Opportunities at UofT Law
The Faculty of Law offers several opportunities for students to advocate for LGBT rights. A great example is the Envisioning Global LGBT Rights project, in which law students research the state of gay rights in several former British colonies around the world. A five-year multi-disciplinary program, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Envisioning Program involves law student volunteers through the law school’s Pro Bono Students Canada chapter.
The Pro Bono Students Canada program also provides other LGBT placements: the legal advice and referrals clinic at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic (research and spousal sponsorship clinical work), and EGALE Canada (research on court cases).
The IHRP also sponsors the working group "Database of Domestic Legislation Protecting LGBT Human Rights." This working group involves a partnership between the IHRP and International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) to create an online, free, and searchable database of domestic legislation from around the world that protects the rights of LGBT individuals. This project was conceived of by the ICJ based on the real need for a comprehensive resource for legislative precedents and based on consultation will leading human rights lawyers. A searchable and publicly accessible database with primary source materials will make it easier for advocates and policy makers to access appropriate precedents upon which to base positive change in other jurisdictions. Learn more about the ICJ and its work.
LGBT Faculty of Law Advisors
Professors Brenda Cossman and Simon Stern both act as resources to UofT’s LGBTQ law students.
Toronto: A Queer-Friendly City
Toronto is home to Canada’s largest LGBT community and North America’s third largest annual Pride celebration. Toronto’s Gay Village – affectionately known to locals as “The Village” – is located in the heart of the city, centred at the intersection of Church and Wellesley Streets. The Village contains a plethora of restaurants, shops and nightspots often frequented by UofT students.
For further information about what it is like to attend UofT as an LGBT student, please do not hesitate to reach out to the current Out in Law Presidents at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Toronto’s Sexual & Gender Diversity Office offers programs and resources that respond to the multi-faceted needs of the University’s communities. In particular, they offer special resources for Trans students , information about coming out, and lists of queer-friendly events on- and off-campus.
Resources for Future LGBT Law Students
The Law School Admissions Council (the folks who administer the LSAT) offers excellent online resources and information for LGBT students who are thinking about applying to law school. (Keep in mind that info is geared towards students in the US).