American University provides equal opportunity for all qualified persons in its educational programs and activities. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, or Vietnam-era veteran status. It conforms with all applicable federal and state nondiscrimination laws. This policy of nondiscrimination applies to every aspect of the operations and activities of the university generally and includes admissions and employment.
LGBT Student Organization(s)
The Lambda Law Society is a great resource for students and offers multiple
educational and social events each semester. The organization’s activities include a welcome barbeque,
networking events with alumni, and academic panels. They also sponsor a mentorship
program through which new students are assigned a mentor to help with their adjustment to
law school and to living in the metropolitan area. For more information, contact Lambda@wcl.american.edu.
Professors have served as scholars producing cutting-edge scholarship on
LGBT equality; attorneys and amici curiae in prominent, precedent-setting test case litigation;
members of national boards of directors of LGBT movement organizations; a general
counsel and legal director to the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization; and the
Maryland state senator most responsible for the passage of marriage-equality legislation in
For more information, please contact the Office of Admissions.
Please contact the Office of Admissions.
LGBT topics are discussed in class when appropriate and provide an opportunity for students
to delve into the issues of today. Professors understand the importance of discussing the
issues that are at the heart of the present legal environment.
A current student states, “When
LGBT issues arise in classes, such as Constitutional Law, Civil Rights Laws, etc., professors
are very professional about how they lead the discussion, and while everyone has a free
voice, I’ve never encountered any negative sentiments—even from people who may take the
opposing side in a debate. I have never had a class where there weren’t other LGBT students,
so you never feel completely alone or like you stand out for that reason.”
The following seminars address LGBT issues:
- Sexuality and the Law analyzes the law as it relates to lesbians and gay men by discussing definitions of sexual orientation and how sexual orientation is viewed in a social context. Students focus on lesbian and gay political activism, privacy issues, censorship, and discrimination in the workplace, schools, and military. Family issues—recognition of lesbian and gay couple relations, child custody and parenting, and constitutional and statutory issues—will also be explored.
- AIDS and the Law examines the AIDS epidemic and the body of law that has developed in connection with it. This seminar considers the medical and epidemiological aspects of AIDS and, to some extent, tuberculosis, as well as the law itself.
- Advanced Family Law Theory and Policy is an interdisciplinary examination of selected topics in family law from both theoretical and policy perspectives, with an emphasis on race, class, and sexual orientation. Topics include legal responses to changing family structures and alternative methods of reproduction, state regulation of intimate human relationships, state intrusion into family life through child abuse and neglect and welfare systems, and the effect of constitutional doctrine on the regulation of the family.
- Gender, Cultural Difference, and International Human Rights examines the application of international law to religious and cultural practices that have an impact on women’s rights. The course focuses on the personal status laws governing rights in the family, legal capacity, and inheritance in a number of countries. Students consider concepts of culture in international law and the scope of laws protecting the right to engage in religious and cultural practices, concepts of gender equality in international law, and feminist analyses of the ways in which gender, race, class, and other factors intersect with religion and culture to shape women’s de jure and de facto rights, with an emphasis on analyses by women in developing countries and women of color in the United States. Students also look at concepts of cultural difference, race, and gender in approaches to the practice of female circumcision and the concept of moral consensus as a cultural construct underlying restrictions on lesbian and gay rights in the United States and Europe. Examples include Islamic law, Hindu law, customary law in selected African countries, Jewish law, and Christian law as reflected in Irish constitutional law and canon law as incorporated in various legal systems.
- Frontiers of Legal Thought examines cutting-edge issues in law, jurisprudence, and social policy. After an introduction to work-family issues, the class focuses on specialized topics that have included discrimination law, family law, labor and employment law, legislation, gender pressures on men, same-sex couples, working-class parents, cross-cultural perspectives, and commodification. Readings include judicial opinions, law review articles, and historical and contemporary readings on workplace structure, class, family relationships, marriage, parenting, and divorce. Outside policy experts join us to lead discussions about current research and policy issues.
- Theories of Pedagogy examines the relationship of legal theory and pedagogical practice in four of the major approaches to law and legal education that are operative within American legal education today: Socratic teaching and the case method, gender and the law (feminist theory and gay and lesbian legal theory), clinical theory, and critical race theory. Students in the course will analyze how the educational product of any theory is connected to its theoretical foundations and practical missions and whether and why educational method matters. They will identify the different ways in which theory affects the issues and questions addressed in a class and the methods used to teach about those issues. Students will explore each of the theories from the perspectives of the teacher and the learner.
Domestic-Partner or Same-Sex Marriage Benefits
Please view the American University Human Resources website.
American University Washington College of Law (AU WCL) conscientiously recruits and supports a student body that includes
people of varying ethnicities, races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and gender identities who come together not simply to
study law, but to learn from one another. The Office of Student Affairs and Office of Diversity Services work with LGBT students
on both an individual basis and through the Lambda Law Society student organization.
In addition to welcoming many LGBT students to the community, AU WCL also has served as a home to quite a few
professors, senior administrators, and staff who either are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender themselves or prominent
straight allies in the LGBT movement. Some LGBT and straight-ally professors and senior administrators, in fact, are nationally
and internationally renowned experts in law, legislation, and policy concerning LGBT people.
Administrators and faculty members are sensitive to the concerns of LGBT students. For example, in our brand new law
school building there are multiple gender-neutral restroom facilities to better accommodate the needs of students and visitors.
Washington, DC, is a great city for LGBT individuals. From sporting leagues to nonprofit organizations, the DC area hosts a
number of opportunities for the LGBT community to interact and network. DC became a marriage-equality city when the city
council legalized same-sex marriage in 2009.