LGBTQIA History at NAU

Convocation Colors

We'd like to thank all of the people who have participated in furthering LGBTQIA awareness and progress for all of their efforts over the years! This history is an incomplete picture and we ask that individuals with additional information to please contact us at

Historic Highlights


1970's Historic Highlights
  • 1973, The (Flagstaff) Guidance Center hosted an ongoing support group for the gay community
  • 1974, KAXR (later: KNAU) aired interviews with gay students
  • 1980's

    1980's Historic Highlights
    • 1985, Gay Alliance of Northern Arizona (GANA: an off-campus organization) is established, published a newsletter and a survey
    • 1986, staff member/alum Robbie Bergman and his partner established an HIV hotline in their home - soon became GANA hotline as well
    • 1986, NAU Human Resources sponsored panel explores diversity, gender and includes LGB issues
    • 1986, two lesbian students and faculty member Phyllis Schiller (advisor) founded student group "The Gay Academic Union" or GAU, supported by VP for Student Affairs, David Markee. GAU advertised events in the GANA newsletter
    • 1988, Fronske Health Promotions and Residence Life partnered in training and programming around HIV/AIDS


    1990's Historic Highlights
    • 1990, GANA renamed GLCNA (Gay & Lesbian Community of Northern AZ)
    • 1991, AZ Dept. of Education required AIDS education be incorporated into school curriculum. This mandate was removed in 1994.
    • 1992, gay and lesbian music festival held at Fort Tuthill, protestors were present. County Sheriff wrote letter to Arizona Daily Sun and County Board of Supervisors detailing that the license was issued contrary to his values.
    • 1994, Flagstaff chapter of PFLAG is formed
    • 1996, Residence Life began Safe Zone & Ally Training
    • 1997, 41 people (including NAU faculty and staff) rode in a 318 mile bicycle race which raised $41,000 for AIDS Outreach of Northern Arizona (AONA) - the local AIDS service organization
    • 1997, GAU changed name to LBGA at NAU (Lesbian Bisexual Gay Alliance)
    • 1999, Celia N. Gonzalez, Director of NAU's Affirmative Action, supports NAU's first annual Gay Awareness Week hosted by the LBGA at NAU
    • 1999, due to student initiative in collaboration with Flagstaff community organizations and The Names Project - AIDS Memorial Quilt brought to NAU for first time


    2000's Historic Highlights
    • 2000, AONA Drag Race fundraiser created by AONA client and his wife who was a student at NAU. Students, faculty, and staff among participants
    • 2001, Northern Arizona Rainbow Community Center (NARCC) opened, but was unable to sustain its offices beyond 2001
    • 2001, LGB students advocate for official space within Union. Associated Students for Women's Issues (ASWI) voluntarily moved within Union to give LGBA space
    • 2003, LBGA at NAU changed name to PRISM to avoid issues around potential lack of inclusivity via initials
    • 2004, decided PRISM would stand for People Respecting Individual and Sexual Minorities
    • 2005, AIDS Memorial Quilt returned to NAU, sponsored by Residence Life
    • 2005, PRISM held a fundraiser for HIV Awareness Week and donated the funds to Northland Cares (previously AONA)
    • 2008, Project D.A.T.E. (Diversity and Ally Training for Education) gave over 500 presentations
    • May 2009, Safe Zone Training provided by Residence Life at Employee Development Day


    2010's Historic Highlights
    • Spring 2010, research on LGBTQ issues at NAU conducted by Pat Manning and Peggy Glider from University of Arizona
    • Spring 2010, Delta Chapter of Gamma Rho Lambda Sorority founded
    • Fall 2010, NAU joined the AZ LGBTQA Network of Higher Ed 
    • Fall 2010,  the campus LGBQTIA Task Force formed with Laura Theimer and Chris Gunn as first Co-Chairs
    • Fall 2011, Office of LGBTQA Resources and Support opened and was housed in SBS West
    • Fall 2011, free regular HIV on-campus testing provided by Coconino Health Services
    • Fall 2011, LGBTQA and Transgender Support Groups created
    • December 2011, AIDS Memorial Quilt returns, sponsored by LGBTQIA Task Force and the President's Office. NAU panel was made by students, faculty, staff and community visitors.
    • Spring 2012, LGBTQIA Task Force held first LGBTQ faculty and staff gathering, hosted off-campus by NAU faculty member
    • Spring 2012, Diversity Awards Dinner held with first awards given for Distinguished Service to the LGBTQIA Community by a student, staff and faculty member
    • May 2012, Rainbow Convocation first held on campus
    • Fall 2012, Gender Inclusive Housing and the LGBTQA Living Learning Community are introduced on campus
    • Fall 2012, Office of LGBTQA Resources and Support moved to Union under Inclusion & Multicultural Services. Full-time coordinator position created.
    • Fall 2012, FIERCE (Feminism Is For Everyone) student organization founded
    • October 2012, first known gender-swapping Homecoming King & Queen at an American university crowned at NAU
    • Spring 2013, Without Labels student organization founded
    • February 2013, Queer Studies minor approved
    • March 2013, Flagstaff City Council approves Non-Discrimination Ordinance including sexual orientation, gender identity and military veterans in the area of employment and public accommodations
    • April 2013, first NAU Pride Day held
    • Fall 2013, Queer & Ally Action Research Team (student group) founded
    • December 2013, LGBTQIA Task Force given "Commission" status by President John Haeger
    • January 2014, "Out and Proud" LGBTQ Faculty & Staff list is first published
    • January 2014, LGBTQIA Commission Scholarship Fund is established
    • Fall 2014, Gender Neutral Restrooms tab goes live on online campus map
    • October 2014, Same-sex marriage is legally recognized in Arizona
    • January 2015, Transgender health exclusion is dropped from NAU's Blue Cross Blue Shield policy
    • January 2015, OSTEM (Out in Science Technology Engineering & Math) student organization formed
    • March 2015, Comprehensive climate survey is conducted by the LGBTQIA Commission, the Commission on Ethnic Diversity, and Inclusion & Multicultural Services
    • April 2015, JacksCard Office begins issuing id cards with preferred names
    • August 2015, Campus Health Services begins offering transgender hormone therapy for qualified individuals
    • November 2015, Coconino LGBTQ Cultural Center ("The Q") established
    • November 2015, Student coalition presents lists of demands to President Cheng, including many specific to LGBTQ and gender-identity topics
    • December 2015, Flagstaff chapter of PFLAG disbands after 21 years
    • December 2015, campus Bias Response Protocol approved

    Closing Thoughts:

    In researching the history, we found that one person can make a big difference and that overall NAU is a tolerant environment. Many of the supports and services for the LGBTQIA community were provided by individuals, the Flagstaff community, or in partnership with community and city, county or state resources. Especially during the height of the AIDS crisis many LGBTQIA resources were intertwined with HIV groups and organizations.

    While there has always been an LGBTQIA presence at NAU, the visibility of the community has ebbed and flowed over the years depending on the leadership and availability of students, faculty, staff, and the support of NAU’s administration.  

    If you are interested in more information, Cline Library Special Collections does have a box of a variety of printed pieces mostly from the 1980’s and 1990’s, including several tee-shirts in collection number M-114, that were donated to the library by an anonymous donor.                  ~Commission History Committee