Third year law student elected to co-chair National LGBT Bar Association’s Law Student Congress

photo of Emily Hansbarger

Emily Hansbarger

JUNE 22, 2020 — Emily Hansbarger has been named Co-Chair to the Law Student Congress of the National LGBT Bar Association. She will be working with other students across the nation and will be speaking at Lavender Law, the association’s annual conference and career fair, which was to be held in Washington, DC, this August, but is now being held online.

“We will be speaking on what we do, what we have planned for the year,” said Hansbarger, who has served on the National LGBT board since last year and is excited at the opportunity to increase her involvement with LGBT rights.

On campus, Hansbarger has been a leader in LGBT diversity and inclusion. She has spearheaded efforts to establish the Alliance for Equality as an active organization and worked with the admissions team on creating inclusive language for LGBT applicants. She also supported the effort to make gender neutral bathrooms available on campus. 

The Student Bar Association (SBA) provided a grant for Hansbarger to attend Lavender Law after her first year, where she was able to forge connections and get elected to the board as a 1L representative. 

This year, eight students received grants from the SBA to attend Lavender Law. The grant application process requires students to provide an essay, a teacher recommendation, a presentation, and a commitment to share what they learned with fellow students afterwards. In addition to Hansbarger, those students are Julia Stewart and Alliance for Equality executive board members Jordan Green, Taylor McDowell, Morgan Page, Kaity Needs, Dylan Bitar, and Reid Tidwell. Hansbarger sees it as an opportunity to strengthen the campus organization, work on national issues such as banning the gay panic defense and lifting the blood ban for gay men, and increase her involvement with LGBT rights.

She hopes more students will get active in the campus organization, which has established connections with local attorneys that are involved in the LGBT community in some way.

“I would really like to see Alliance for Equality continue to build and to educate people at the school,” she says. “We held a panel last fall addressing diversity in a professional setting, and I think it opened peoples eyes that whatever law you go into, you will be interacting with diverse people — of different race, gender, economics — and it’s important to be able to work with that diversity.” 

Hansbarger envisions Charleston School of Law attracting even more LGBT students with a new dean that is also part of the LGBT community. “I went to Larry Cunningham’s Q&A with students, and he has a lot of experience with nonprofit schools, ABA accreditation, but I think this will open people’s eyes and attract a lot of students who are scared of coming to the South. Because we have our first openly gay Dean, I think it will increase diversity at the school.”

Dean-Designate Cunningham says, “One of the reasons I am looking forward to joining the Charleston School of Law community as its next dean is because of its welcoming atmosphere.  I plan to do everything I can to continue to promote diversity and inclusion within the Law School and the broader community.”

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