More than 100 signed up in less than a week for a new student-led project that celebrates and supports people from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine’s LGBTQ+ community.

Student-led Kaleidoscope Project launches in support of OUWB’s LGBTQ+ community
An image of those from the OUWB community who supported National Coming Out Day in 2019

More than 100 signed up in less than a week for a new student-led project that celebrates and supports people from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine’s LGBTQ+ community.

OUWB’s Kaleidoscope Project aims to promote inclusivity among all realms of medical education — from the classroom to patient care.

The initiative centers on a list of people with connections to OUWB who have signed up to publicly show support for the community. It is open to OUWB’s students, faculty, and staff. The list can be found on the OUWB website.

But the intent of the project goes well beyond simply compiling a list of supporters, according to Amelia Kruse, a rising M3 who helped develop the idea and bring it to life.

“We want to make sure that this is something that helps people feel like they belong, that there is a community that cares about them, and that they have a place in the OUWB system,” said Kruse.

According to the project webpage, “The term ‘kaleidoscope’ comes from the Greek roots meaning ‘beauty’ and ‘form.’ With this in mind, members of the project are committed to seeing the beauty in all forms of LGBTQ+ diversity through an intersectional lens. We also promise to support the wellness of these communities and to address disparities that exist both consciously and unconsciously in today’s academic and health care environments.”

The project also stresses the importance of “the intersectionality of identities and the clear disparities that exist, particularly for the Black and Brown members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

McClowry, Robert

McClowry

Robert McClowry, M.D., assistant dean for Diversity & Inclusion, OUWB, credited Caryn Reed-Hendon, Ph.D., director of Diversity & Inclusion, OUWB, with coming up with the name for the Kaleidoscope Project.

McClowry, a member of the subcommittee behind the project, also serves as assistant dean for Career Advisor Programming and Student Advisement, and is an assistant professor in OUWB’s Department of Family Medicine & Community Health.

“The purpose of this project is to elevate and support the LGBTQ+ identity but not lose sight of the fact that they have other intersecting identities,” said McClowry.

McClowry said the timing of the project is important, too.

One reason is that the Kaleidoscope Project is launching during Pride Month, which is held annually in June and began originally as a way to pay homage to the Stonewall uprising that took place in New York City in June 1969.

Related:

OUWB Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council looks ahead with new leadership, members

OUWB Diversity Lecture Series promotes ‘value of difference, importance of acceptance’

OUWB bolsters diversity, equity, and inclusion via new initiative

The other reason is to let the LGBTQ+ community know that they are not forgotten in the “new normal” that has limited in-person interactions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It definitely doesn’t mean that we aren’t here for members of the LGBTQ+ community,” said McClowry.

McClowry and Kruse said the project involved many meetings as well as research into similar projects undertaken by other medical schools — but that the group didn’t want to simply copy the work of others.

“We wanted something that was unique and special that fit OUWB,” said McClowry.

Kruse said a significant amount of time went into creating a project that would allow people to get involved without feeling uncomfortable or unsafe.

She gave credit to OUWB for embracing the final result.

“The more people that we talked to and the more people got involved in the project, the more they realized this was something we needed,” she said.

Looking ahead, McClowry said he sees a bright future for the project.

He pointed to the fact that more than 100 people signed up in less than a week when the form became available. OUWB’s Kaleidoscope Project webpage that includes the list and signup link can be found by clicking here.

“As this list continues to grow and evolve over time, it will tell us a lot about it,” he said.

Kruse said the Kaleidoscope Project also sends an important message.

“We need to make sure that we are putting up a message of who we want to be and by staying silent, we’re not putting out any message,” said Kruse. “I hope it serves as an example of what schools and even hospital systems can do.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

Follow OUWB on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine as the original creator and include a link to this article.