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LGBTQ+ judicial trailblazers encourage students to be ‘authentic selves’ during OUTLaw Speaker Series

UHLC graduate Judge Phyllis Frye (‘81) and Vice President of Internal Relations for OUTLaw and UHLC student Aaron Lira

May 1, 2024 – University of Houston Law Center students gain insights from judges about their experiences navigating legal careers while embracing their identity during an OUTLaw Speaker Series this spring.

The Judicial Speaker Series spanned three evening sessions, featuring UHLC graduate Judge Phyllis Frye (‘81), retired Associate Judge for the Municipal Courts of Houston; UHLC graduate  Judge Jason Cox (‘02), presiding judge of Harris County Probate Court 3; and Justice Charles Spain, Justice at the Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District of Texas.

“[Judge Frye] captured it perfectly when she told us to ‘Never give up’ and encouraged us to be out, loud, and proud of who we are. Every speaker echoed this sentiment by encouraging us to be our authentic selves and build community with those like us to get through times that would inevitably be hard,” said Vice President of Internal Relations for OUTLaw and UHLC student Aaron Lira.

"The series includes judges with different experiences. It's good to hear from different perspectives in the judiciary. All of their journeys are very unique; they emphasize that there's not one right path or way to be an advocate,” said Vice President of OUTLaw and UHLC student Toni M. Rask.

“Growing up, I know I and a lot of others did not have someone older they could look up to and ask questions about how it is to be queer and navigate adulthood, so it was important for us to have a space like this where we could see others who are like us and thriving in the legal world,” said Lira.

In light of the current political climate marked by a surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and the closure of pride centers at public universities across Texas, Lira said, “Through this event, we wanted to convey it is still very possible to be out and thrive in the legal world, even in Texas. Even when the political moment may be hostile, the best thing we can do is come together and build community with one another.

OUTLaw is a student organization devoted to the issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students at law school. The organization states that all students are welcome to join, regardless of their sexual orientation.

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