Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Receives Substantial Grant

The $1.5 million grant will fund scholarship that focuses on the role tradition holds in influencing social justice projects

Fall 2011

Columbia Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Arcus Foundation to launch the Engaging Tradition Project, which will focus on how notions of tradition are used to oppose and support social justice programs that deal with sexuality.

The project, to be funded over three years, aims to help advocates understand and counter tradition-based objections to their work in promoting advancement on issues relating to sexuality, gender, and race.

“Columbia Law School’s commitment to [connect] theory to law and policy in practice ensures that the Engaging Tradition Project’s insights will find real-world relevance in litigation, policy initiatives, and broad-based advocacy while also contributing to academic discourse about sexuality and gender law,” said Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, who serves as a director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law.

Urvashi Vaid, the former director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, serves as executive director of the new project. Participants will examine how ideas of tradition can be used to shape legal, legislative, and public-education strategies.

“Appeals to tradition have been used both as trumps to limit or undermine gender- and sexual-based justice projects, and as keys to unlock those very projects,” said Professor Katherine M. Franke, a director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. “This project brings together a wide range of academics, lawyers, students, and grassroots advocates to examine how the use, or rejection, of tradition impacts the advancement of policy toward equality.”