Category: Statements

Statement on Helen Alvaré and LGBTQ Inclusion at Duke

Dear Members of the Duke Law Community,

We write to you disappointed and frustrated with the Duke Law Federalist Society’s decision to invite Helen Alvaré to Duke Law on October 26th. Professor Alvaré has called same-sex marriage “a horrid natural experiment in our country,” is a regular speaker at pro-conversion therapy events, and has called the decriminalization of homosexuality a mistake. She is affiliated with numerous anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups and regularly engages in what the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as hate speech, including in the book she intends to promote at Duke.

We are equally frustrated with the response of Dean Abrams and the Duke Law administration to our concerns. In her response, she explained that while she might personally oppose Alvaré, as Dean she would not oppose Alvaré’s harmful rhetoric. Last year, Dean Abrams acknowledged the harm caused by the Westboro Baptist Church, and took steps to ensure they would not be allowed on campus. But when hate comes with a law degree and Federalist Society sponsorship, it becomes more palatable to the administration.

To our classmates in the Federalist Society: know that we will remember you decided our civil liberties were up for debate. We will remember that you wanted to hear from those who would criminalize our very existence. To be clear, Alvaré’s views are so far removed from civility that even those who claim a “religious” opposition to marriage equality or LGBTQ+ rights do not support her position. Your professional and personal identities are forever stained by these hateful views and the harm you have caused to our community.

To Dean Abrams and the Duke Law administration: we are hurt by your failure to recognize us and the harm caused by Alvaré’s hate speech. This echoes the same marginalization that is so often directed at LGBTQ+ individuals. It is important to note that hostility to LGBTQ+ individuals is not new at Duke Law. Previous Federalist Society speakers have advocated for discrimination against LGBTQ+ people by private businesses, have deliberately misgendered trans attorneys, and have opposed our rights generally. Duke Law also routinely promotes scholarship that directly opposes the rights of transgender and intersex women worldwide.

If we cannot be assured that our school will defend our humanity, then how can we call the administration an ally to us? When prospective students ask us about our experiences at Duke, we will have to be honest with them about the environment they will encounter here. We recognize the efforts of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Office of Diversity Initiatives to try to make this school a more inclusive and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ students. But we will continue to fight to ensure future Duke Law students will not face the same indifference from their peers and the administration.

Thank you to our allies in this community for your solidarity and support! We hope for a better, more welcoming, and more supportive environment for us and for all members of this profession. Duke OutLaw will continue to work towards that goal.


Duke OutLaw


Duke OutLaw mourns the murder of George Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and many others.  We stand with their loved ones, our Black members and peers at Duke Law, and the protesters who continue to fight against white supremacy and police violence. It is our responsibility to dismantle systems that devalue Black lives and their stories, especially within the LGBTQ community.

As we mark the first day of Pride Month, we must remember that Pride started not as a parade but rather as a protest led by Black transgender women, drag queens, and sex workers against police violence. Queer liberation would not be possible if not for the action and courage of Black activists who, to this very day, continue to face discrimination, injustice, and police brutality rooted in white supremacy.

Pride may look different this year, but its spirit of resistance is more salient than ever. While there will be no festivals or parades, there is still plenty of work to be done. Let us celebrate Pride Month by amplifying Black voices in our community and disrupting the systems attempting to silence them.
We ask that all of OutLaw’s members consider donating to the following organizations:

Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative

NC Community Bail Fund of Durham

Black Visions Collective

There can be no Pride for any of us without justice for all of us. Black Lives Matter.

To learn more about anti-racism and working to dismantle white supremacy, please consider the following resources:

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