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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Rasmussen University

Transformative Education for All

We believe higher education is about more than taking courses and earning a degree; it is about being challenged by different perspectives and learning to communicate with respect. It is about opportunities that could change your life—and the support to make it possible. Diversity, equity and inclusion are not just abstract goals for Rasmussen University. They are critical to our purpose.

Our DEI Purpose Statement

Rasmussen University promotes diversity awareness; respect for multiple perspectives; equity for all students, staff and faculty; and inclusion among all University stakeholders in and out of the classroom.

Where We Started

During the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, Rasmussen University offered career-driven courses that allowed women to join the workforce. While there was—and still is—more to be done for diversity, equity and inclusion, it is this spirit of equality that has helped steer our school over the past 120+ years.

DEI History s

Where We Are Now

We are proud to serve a diverse student body—made up of different genders, ages, races and ethnicities. By offering flexible, affordable programs and step-by-step support, we aim to make education more accessible for everyone.


of students are women1


of students are over the age of 251


of students are of color1

Teaching Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Every Program

Working on a diverse team is something every student should be able to do—regardless of their degree. That’s why diversity, equity and inclusion, along with five other transferable skills, are integrated into every program at Rasmussen University. Not only do we focus on the core technical skills that employers value, but the core qualities that are essential to being successful in society and the workforce.

Learn more about transferable skills at Rasmussen

Increasing Access through Empowered Learning® and Knowledge Credit®

With jobs, families and other responsibilities, traditional education doesn't work for everyone. But it doesn’t have to. We are dedicated to offering alternative paths to a degree. Empowered Learning® offers flexible course schedules, and Knowledge Credit® allows students to get credit for what they already know, saving them time and money on their education.

Learn more about Empowered Learning®
Learn more about Knowledge Credit®

Celebrating First-Generation College Students

Nearly 40% of students at Rasmussen University self-identify as First Generation college students.2 You can read some of their stories in our News Center, including that of Pang Houa Vang-Yang, a first-generation Rasmussen alum. Read more

Another way to understand this community is through the results of a 2020 survey sent to all first-gen students at Rasmussen:3

  • 95% of respondents pursued higher education to fulfill a personal goal
  • 33% of respondents already had some college experience
  • 25% of respondents were between the ages of 26 and 30
  • 63% of respondents chose Rasmussen University because of flexible course schedules

As we learn more about the strengths and needs of first-gen students, we are dedicated to making sure they feel uniquely seen and supported.

DEI_Pang blog s

The Center: Gender Identity & Inclusivity

Rasmussen University celebrated Pride Month in 2022 by hosting a series of virtual events. The first event featured Marshall Turner, Director of Operations for The Center Orlando, who gave a timely presentation about gender identity.

The Center: Gender Identity & Inclusivity

View transcript(Scroll to see full transcript)

Sharon Richardson (00:02):

Hello, everyone. On behalf of Rasmussen University's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, I would like to welcome you to the first of three Pride Learning Series. Today, we have an amazing guest, Mr. Marshall Turner from The Center, located in Orlando, Florida. A few years back, the Orlando campus had the pleasure of partnering with the center and participate in the Pride parade. Just a few housekeeping items. Please put all questions in the chat. Iman will collect the questions and facilitate the Q and A at the end of the session, but if there's any questions that's relative to the presentation, she'll ask the question at that time.

So, about our amazing guest, Mr. Marshall Turner is a world traveler who has spent his life learning from experiences and culture, as well as the classroom. Born and raised in Utah, he moved to Orlando in 2004 to participate in the Walt Disney World College Program and has called Orlando home for the last 16 years. Over his time in Orlando, he has worked in a variety of roles at Walt Disney World, including entertainment, resorts, guest relations and as an event solutions coordinator for productions. His time with the event solutions team provided him with something he had never had: a steady schedule that would be conducive to volunteering. And he has spent the last years working at both the Kissimmee and the Orlando offices of The Center at the front desk. As the COVID-19 pandemic began, Marsha was notified that his position at Walt Disney World had been eliminated, but all was not lost. At the same time of receiving the news that Disney had ended, The Center had opened a new position as the volunteer coordinator, and he welcomed the new opportunity. Marshall, through a series of fortunate events, has climbed the ladder quickly, moving from volunteer coordinator to director of operations all within a year. It's been a wild ride so far, and he's beyond excited to see where his career in the nonprofit sector will take him. Without further ado, our guest speaker, Mr. Marshall Turner.

Marshall Turner (02:20):

Hi, everybody. Thank you so much for having me. Like Sharon mentioned, I've been in Orlando I guess now for 18 years—2004, my public school in Utah, math is definitely not my strong point. But over the years, I've learned that giving back to people really is… volunteering has always been something that I've been passionate about. And it wasn’t until end of 2018, beginning of 2019, that I had a schedule that would allow for that. And it has opened the door to a series of amazing new opportunities for me here at The Center. So I will go ahead and get my screen pulled up. Can everybody see my screen? Yes?

Whitney Morris (03:00):

Yes, we can see it. 

Marshall Turner (03:01):

Perfect. <laugh>. I still feel like it's brand new in Zoom and Teams every time we do a meeting. So today, we're going to talk about gender identity and inclusivity. It’s not a hot button topic, but it's a topic that organizations are starting to take more account for as they recognize that somebody's identity is a part of what makes them who they are and not just what they are on their resume. And we'll talk briefly about who we are at The Center and how our history has driven change in hopes that history around the world can drive change as well. We'll talk about some conversations surrounding pronouns and how that can affect somebody's comfort and understanding of their place within an organization. Briefly about gender identity, how we can break down barriers, a brief touch on understanding intersectionality. And then, with the hopes that everybody can take today's conversation beyond allyship. Because it's one thing to say, “Oh, I'm an ally of the LGBTQ+ community,” versus actually demonstrating that and actually living that. As it was mentioned, if there are any questions at any point during the presentation, please don't hesitate to pop them in the chat. And at the end, I also provide my contact information if you think of anything after today. So, The Center started and exists to promote and empower the LGBT+  community and its allies through information, education, advocacy and support. We've been around since 1978, which makes us the oldest LGBT center in Central Florida and the third oldest in the country. Some things that we do: We're the largest HIV testing site in central Florida. 

We have victim advocacy case management that originally was founded for the Pulse Nightclub tragedy survivors and victims’ families. We've just expanded that to victim services as a whole. We have a food pantry. It's one of the only LGBT-specific food pantries in the central Florida region. And we host some of the only LGBT-focused recovery groups for Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. We have a variety of support groups ranging in topics from gender identity to those that are living with or affected by HIV. And we are getting ready to start six new programs as well for support: the grief and loss coming out process trauma and coping, one for parents of LGBTQ+ children and more. The pandemic really forced us to kind of take a look at who we are and what we're doing and how we can not necessarily pivot but expand to better serve the community.

Expansion's always been on our horizons. From when we started in 1978, we were originally strictly a phone line that gay men could call in and get up-to-date information on mental health counseling referrals and safe space meetups. As the LGBT umbrella expanded, so did The Center. 1980, women were allowed to join, and we went through our first rebranding to become Gay and Lesbian Community Services. 1990, we reincorporated once again to become Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida. The names get longer and longer. 2007, another rebrand to become the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Central Florida. And in 2018, we changed our name into the organization that we operate under today: the LGBT+ Center Orlando. I think it's important to look at historically, even as the LGBT community has looked at who we were and what we are, inclusion hasn't always been in the forethought, and it’s always been something that we’ve adapted with and adjusted as time has gone on. So, we are hoping that now that as the world progresses and we figure out more and more that gender is a construct and it's more of a spectrum than a binary and some things like that, we can help stay ahead of the curve instead of playing catching up to the curve. Some things with gender identity, pronouns is a very new-ish conversation to have. I remember when I was in school, it was, there are masculine pronouns, there are feminine pronouns. And that was kind of it. Some ways that we've recognized that conversations surrounding pronouns can go a little easier by doing introductions.

I realize that I did not do that here. So, hi, my name's Marshall Turner. I use he/him/his pronouns, and I'm the director of operations at the LGBT plus Center. Somebody taking the initiative to place their pronouns out there can make the room more comfortable for those that are either identifying as something beyond the binary or on a journey to figure out what best describes them. In conversations, you can always ask what are your pronouns? Or are you comfortable sharing your pronouns with me? Because gender is a spectrum, it's important to recognize that while some people may have that figured out already, it's a journey for some, and pronouns can change and how people identify can change. So it's important to be receptive to that. And even if you met somebody as a “he” and throughout their journey, they've decided and come to the realization that they are non-binary or gender non-conforming, and they prefer to be identified as “they,” understanding that changing your perception of somebody can help them be more comfortable in their own skin.

It's important to make a conscious effort to not misgender somebody once you learn their pronouns. In the event that it happens because mistakes happen, let's be honest, it's important to apologize, address it and move on quickly. What we've seen here in The Center specifically is some people feel like if they apologize and go above and beyond to really take ownership of that, it places the ownness of the mistake on the person you misgendered by making them feel like they have to say, “Oh, no, it’s okay,” or, “Oh, don’t let it happen again.” So, a quick simple, “Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry. These are your pronouns,” and move on. And with that comes the openness to being corrected. It is an ongoing process, especially for the LGBTQ+ community of understanding that what we were taught in schools and what we're taught as a society doesn't necessarily reflect all of the society. So if somebody corrects you a mid-sentence and says, “Hey, my pronouns are actually they/them,” be open to it, say thank you and move on.

I know that I've talked a little bit about some terminology. Here is a very high-level overview of some terminology that we see most frequently. LGBTQ+ refers to somebody who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. The plus encompasses all other non-heterosexual identities. There's a longer acronym as well: the LGBTQIA2S+. So it's the same: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, two-spirit and then the plus. Gender, though, is the state of being male or female, typically in regarding two social constructs more rather than physical attributes. So, the difference between like gender and sex assigned at birth, gender is a construct. Sex is more medical. Somebody who is cisgender refers to someone who identifies with the gender that they were assigned at birth.

So I happen to be a cisgendered gay man. I work with many though that identify as transgender or non-binary. Transgender, of course, referring to someone who does not identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth. And genderfluid falls under that transgender umbrella. So if you picture the LGBT umbrella as a whole, there's little or smaller umbrellas. So under the transgender umbrella falls genderfluid, gender nonconforming, non-binary and genderqueer. Transgender kind of being the umbrella term for anybody that identifies beyond the binary. So genderfluid is referring to someone whose gender identity changes over time from one end of the spectrum to the other. Gender nonconforming, this person whose appearance does not conform to social expectations about what is appropriate for their gender. And that's beyond like a drag queen who dresses in… a male who dresses in women's clothes.

They kind of bend the spectrum a little bit of maybe they don't fully identify with one end of the spectrum or the other, but they want to dress and appear in a way that makes them comfortable. So it could be mixing historically gendered clothing, things like that. Non-binary refers to someone who does not identify exclusively as male or female. So kind of the middle of, if you picture an arrow, which we'll see later on, kind of that middle ground of they're not one end of the spectrum, they're not the other end of the spectrum. They're not moving along the spectrum in any one way or the other. They're resting comfortably in the middle. And genderqueer refers to someone whose identity falls on the spectrum between male and female. So, genderfluid, gender nonconforming, non-binary, genderqueer, I don't want to say all roughly mean the same thing, but it's all similar idea of if you're not cisgender, where you're identifying as the sex that you were assigned at birth, and you're not transgender, where you are moving from one end of the spectrum to the other, any one of these other terms can fit you.

And it's a personal journey depending on what feels right and what works best for the individuals. Gender identity is something that is very personal, and only that individual can come to terms with it. When it comes to terms relating to biological sex, biological sex is the medical term designated based on a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender organs. Ooh, the storm is here. Secondary sex characteristics and hormonal balances: usually subdivided into male and female. Category does not recognize the existence of intersex bodies. Binary is the idea that there are only two genders. That's what we hear a lot about from a political standpoint is outside the binary, or this, that and the other, male or female, man or woman. The binary will state that you have to identify as one or the other.

And as society progresses, we're just learning that's just not the case. Intersex is a person whose body does not fit into the dyadic categories of male or female, be it due to genital, gonadal, chromosomal and/or hormonal variation. Intersex bodies get talked about more and more frequently as people come forward with those stories. But they typically have masculine or feminine identities, but they may identify as one of those other transgender, non-binary, gender nonconforming type terms. Lastly, sexual orientation is the sexual desires, the romantic interest of an individual. Has nothing to do with gender, has nothing to do with what you were assigned at birth, has more to do with your interpersonal dynamics. 

Things like being an LGBTQ+ ally means that you are someone who confronts heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, heterosexual and gender straight privilege in themselves and others. We love our allies. We are so appreciative. One thing that we recognize here at The Center is it's important that you can be an ally to anybody beyond yourself and using whatever privilege you may have to elevate those that are more in need. Gay refers to someone who, in some cultural settings, males who are attracted to other males. Not all men who are attracted to men identify with this label, though. The other thing that we're learning is terminology changes. Understanding changes, people's preferences change. Lesbian refers to, typically, the females that are attracted to other females. Bisexuals are those that are physically, emotionally and/or sexually attracted to men and/or women—does not have to be equally split between the two genders. And everyone that we've talked about so far typically has to go through some kind of coming out.

Coming out can be a very exhausting process. I was very lucky when I came out. My family was very receptive. I like to joke that I came out in self-defense. A girl that I was in college with, we were watching a movie one night, and I was 18 and in my freshman year watching a movie. And we'd been talking as a group earlier about first kisses so I had admitted, “Well, I've never kissed anyone, offstage.” I was a theater performance major. And as the night progressed and those that were of age were drinking a little bit. I get these eyes from across the, from across the room, and she's inching her way over towards me and proceeds to offer to be my first kiss. And in that moment, I was like, “oh, I'm, uh, gay.”

And the first time you say it, it's terrifying because it's an internal struggle that you don't really say out loud until you're ready to. And sometimes when you're not ready to, it gets said out loud, but then it's out there. Being Utah, I then got the, “Well, this is why you're a bad person” lecture for the next two hours, even though she was the one that was coming onto me, but it's fine. My first time telling somebody I was gay, the rest of it, I won't say has been easy, but the first time is always the hardest. The transgender community comes out multiple times. They may come out as if they were assigned male at birth. They may come out as gay first. Once they get comfortable with that, and they do a little more soul searching, they realize, “Ooh, this body doesn't fit who I really am,” they get to go through that whole coming out process all over again. Each coming out is different and it's something that can be a wild ride. 

Some other terms relating to interpersonal dynamics though—sorry for the tangent, I tend to wander sometimes. Demisexual, asexual, pansexual, heterosexual or homosexual are all physical, emotional or sexual attractions to another being. Demisexual is that only happens under certain circumstances. So, there are those that are attracted to a romantic or emotional relationship. Asexual can also be somewhat interpreted as bisexual. Asexual though is a little more open to… they would date male, female, gender nonconforming, things of that nature. [Definition on the screen for asexual is term used to identify a member of the asexual community experiences little or no sexual attraction to others of any gender.] Pansexual is the general attraction to anybody. Heterosexual is those that are attracted to those of the opposite gender. And homosexual is kind of an outdated term used to describe those that are attracted to those of the same gender.

Woo, lots of terms, lots of terms in the LGBT community. Stereotypes, we fight stereotypes every single day. For the longest time, media representation was based on stereotypes. I mean, if you look at… my first recollection of seeing an LGBTQ+ person really was on the Golden Girls. There's an episode where Sophia's getting married, and the caterer comes in. He's got this slicked back ponytail and goes on about cheese puffs that are going to deflate. And very limp wristed, very stereotypical of what people in the eighties saw gay people to be. With those stereotypes, it's fostered some prejudice, discrimination and oppression. We are seeing more and more representation, which is fantastic because representation at the end of the day matters, whether it's for your race, your gender, your sexual identity. Seeing yourself on a platform that is outside of your home, outside of your comfort zone can give hope to those that are either starting that journey or afraid to take that first step of coming out and of living their most authentic life.

And it's with the health of allies that we help fight the prejudice and the discrimination and the oppression. Beyond those, there are the phobias. Transphobia is an irrational fear of those who are gender diverse or those who have the inability to deal with gender ambiguity. Another thing that we see in a lot of some of the political climate of some of the bills that get passed are so transphobic. And it's just a matter of explaining and trying to get people to understand this is nothing to be afraid of. They're just a person. They may be different from you, but at the end of the day, they're just a person trying to live their own life and be happy with it.

So everything we've talked about makes up a person, essentially. The gender identity—the genderbread person—is one of my favorite examples because it kind of shows how somebody identifies versus who they're attracted to versus how they express themselves versus how they were assigned at birth makes them up as a whole. Each of these individual pieces are part of them, but all of them together make themselves. Now earlier, this is that arrow that I was talking about. We talked about pronouns. Here you can see the masculine, the feminine and the in-between. Beyond those though, beyond the he/him, the they/thems and the she/hers, there is a new culture of neo pronouns that are coming out. Now neo pronouns are a category of new pronouns increasingly used in place of she, he or they when referring to a person.

I would love to say that I know and I understand what all of these are. I don't. I'm learning. I'm doing my best. But we are starting to see more where people come in. We as an organization have all of our pronouns on our name tags, whether you're a staff member or a volunteer, that's something we collect in the onboarding process to, again, kind of help alleviate that conversation at the beginning of, if you can walk in and see on somebody's name tag, “Oh, that's Marshall. He uses he/him pronouns. He's a safe person that I can share my pronouns with.” So we are starting to see more of these neo pronouns coming. And with that comes the opportunity for us to ask them, “Can you educate me on what that means? Can you help me understand better about what xe, xem and xyr are so that I can go out and educate others and be that ally to someone who may not have as high of a platform as I do. So be on the lookout. Neo pronouns are, I think, absolutely fascinating. And every time I get to interact with somebody who identifies with a neo pronoun, it's always an interesting and educational conversation. 

The big picture to remember though is that somebody's identity does not equal their expression, which does not equal their sex. And somebody sharing their pronouns with you should give you no other indication into them other than how they want to be identified. You can never assume just because someone identifies as they/them that they are instantly gay, lesbian or bisexual. Could just be, or it is just, what makes them, them. So none of these equal each other, but together, they all equal a person, if that makes any sense. Gender's a convoluted thing. It's a wild ride, but it's a good time. Some things that we can do to break down barriers though is creating a comfortable environment for everyone. Some things that we do here at the center, we have gendered neutral bathrooms. All of our bathrooms are open to anybody, completely gender neutral. We were just doing an event over the weekend for Gay Days. We helped support volunteers, and we had tables at all of the events. Something that they did within the hotel that they were at was put signs over the existing restroom signs for gender neutral, which was cool to see that not only was an organization that forward thinking of, “Oh, everybody that's coming here may not be male or female,” but that hotel like Sheraton or Avanti Palms or the Marriott was open and receptive enough to recognizing, “Oh, everybody here may or may not identify on the gender binary, but everybody here deserves to be comfortable.”

The clothing and shopping experience is one of my favorite things that I've learned because prior to working here, I never thought about, oh, you go to the store, you go to the men's section or the women's section. Never in a million years did it cross my mind of, wow, there are those that don't identify as male or female. And now when I walk in the store, I see things like the men's shirts, pants, shoes, the women's shirts, pants, shoes. And I think it'd be so cool if as a society, we get to the point that the store is just designed like shirts, pants, shorts, something comfortable for everyone. If we can help break down the stigma surrounding either cross-gendered clothing or things like that, that'll help create a comfortable environment for everyone.

And additionally, getting to know someone from a business perspective can create loyalty. Even with that short brief introduction of, “Hi, my name's Marshall, I use he/him/his pronouns. Are you comfortable sharing your pronouns with me?” It lays a really great foundation of trust—trust that you're somebody that they can come and talk to, that you are somebody safe. In today's climate of the world, safety is so important that being able to find those people that you're safe to be around can really make or break for someone. Beyond the breaking down, we do have to understand a little bit of intersectionality. Intersectionality are all of those crossroads of what makes a person a person. And that intersectionality can be heavily influenced, be it by laws, policies of state and local governments, political and economic unions, religious institutions and media.

One of the groups that we have meet with us is a Catholic mass that meets every Sunday. And growing up in Utah, religion has always been kind of a taboo topic. I was raised not Mormon, which for Utah, I was the black sheep unicorn of the state. But being raised not Mormon in a heavily Mormon climate, gave some religious overdraft and kind of this shadow over my entire life of everything I wanted to do was somehow influenced by the state, by the church. Most restaurants were closed on Sundays. So that intersectionality of whether you're religious or not religious, something to understand. I think we've seen more than our fair share for a lifetime of recent political ploys and statements and laws, especially from our governor, his most recent one for gender-affirming care, which is so dangerous to make that a criminal offense, especially for those that have been on gender-affirming care for so long. But understanding life is not a straight road. There are “chrisses and crosses” all along the way in life and as a person. So thinking about the bigger picture when trying to understand intersectionality can really help those that are on those crossroads.

And to take all of this beyond a conversation today because it's one thing to say, “Oh, well I attended an LGBT gender inclusion doc,” check that off the list and move on with my life. It's important to take that beyond today by giving a space to listen, learn and grow. Understand that allyship, accomplices and solidarity are not self-ascribed identities because, again, it's one thing to say, “Well, I'm an ally,” but it's another thing to actually deliver on that. And if you're not delivering, then are you really an ally? Commit to authentically showing up as your most authentic self at all times. If you can show up as your most authentic self, it's going to put others at ease to be able to show up as their most authentic self. Honor people's decisions to come out or to not come out. It is nobody's place but their own to out or come out on behalf of somebody else. And keeping in mind, respecting somebody's pronouns, it's not a choice. It's not your life, it's their life. And at the end of the day, it's the absolute base level of respect that you can give to somebody else to identify them how they wish to be identified.

Ooh, it came in hot. So what questions do you have for me?

Iman Johnson

So, can I just say that this has been an awesome presentation. I learned a lot, and I think it was delivered in such a way that it was very understandable. I have not yet received any questions, but I have just been sitting here in awe and like, “Huh, I didn't know that. Oh my goodness.” So thank you.

Marshall Turner (29:52):

Well, thank you. Go ahead.

Iman Johnson (29:57):

No, go ahead.

Marshall Turner (29:59):

One thing that I got tasked with when I started working for The Center was to kind of help build out that educational part of our mission statement, so it means a lot to hear that it works. So, thank you.

Iman Johnson (30:13):

Yeah, this has been awesome. I definitely will be using this presentation for just my family when they have questions and “Watch this!”

Marshall Turner (30:24):

Yeah, absolutely. If you're on social media, there's a growing community of especially trans and non-binary creators that are helping have these conversations in like one-minute clips. I know our transgender program coordinator kind of has a list of those that I'll be happy to try and collect and then send out, if I can send it to Sharon. If you're on TikTok, and if you're interested, because they do like little one-minute snippets of a lot of the things we talked about as well.

Iman Johnson (30:58):

Oh yeah, definitely please share that. We would love to share it as well within the university. That would be awesome.

Marshall Turner (31:05):


Sharon Richardson (31:08):

Marshall, if I can say, just thank you so much for also adding your personal story to this as well. We really appreciate your transparency, so thank you very much.

Marshall Turner (31:18):

Yeah, absolutely.

Iman Johnson (31:22):

So, one question that was sent to me was “Is there a way to learn more about the neo pronouns” because we are starting to see more of those, and like you said, we don't know a lot about them, so just trying to find, is there any information source that you are aware of that we can use.

Marshall Turner (31:45):

Yeah. I can, where did I pull that from? So this presentation was kind of signed off on by our transgender program coordinator. I can get with them to find out where they pulled the neo pronoun information from and get that sent over as well with the social media creators.

Iman Johnson (32:06):

Perfect. Thank you.

Marshall Turner (32:07):

Of course.

Iman Johnson (32:11):

All right. So I'm going to give us maybe about two more minutes to see if anybody has any other questions. I know some of them are being put in the chat, some are being sent to me. So, just want to make sure we capture all of the questions.

Marshall Turner (32:24):

Absolutely. Beyond today, if you do have any other questions at all, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. You can reach me at [email protected]. And then I know Sharon has all my contact information as well.

Iman Johnson (32:42):


Marshall Turner (32:44):

And if you don't already follow us on social media, and you're looking for ways to get involved, we do all of our events on social media first. So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as for additional information.

Iman Johnson (33:00):

I did receive one question. Is The Center like a nationwide organization, or is it just centric to Orlando, Florida?

Marshall Turner (33:10):

A little bit of both. So, we as an organization belong to a larger network called Centerlink, which connects LGBT centers internationally. So we get some of our programming ideas, some suggestions for the organization, from Centerlink. But all of the centers around the globe are independently run, so they're their own thing, but they're part of a bigger thing. Kind of like the big umbrella with a bunch of little umbrellas underneath it again.

Iman Johnson (33:44):

Gotcha. What can we do as a university to get involved and/or to be an ally?

Marshall Turner (33:54):

Yeah. Every once in a while, we'll do like group volunteering efforts. We try and do like two community cleanups a year. The last one, we were able to clean from—if you're familiar with where we are on Mills Avenue—we were able to clean from two blocks down on Colonial all the way up to two blocks north at Virginia. Both sides of Mills Avenue and the two alleys that run behind both blocks. We are kind of out and about in full force this month, of course, for Pride Month. We hit the ground running again in October for Come Out with Pride. But really, the best way to be an ally to anybody is to create that comfortable space for them. Sometimes, it can take just reintroducing yourself and providing your pronouns to give somebody the courage to share their pronouns with you. So, different ways to meet the community but meeting them where they're at versus hoping that they'll come to you.

Iman Johnson (35:07):

We do have a request from Sharon. She would like for you to send any more of your volunteer opportunities that you have over so that we can share them with the rest of the university.

Marshall Turner (35:17):

Absolutely. We are almost entirely volunteer run. Almost all of our front desk positions are volunteers. The majority of our HIV testers are volunteers. So yeah, I'll get that information sent over. We do monthly sessions for individual volunteers, and then as group volunteers come up, I've got a list of, now you folks, Rollins, UCF, a couple of local companies that we tend to reach out to. So, I'll get you added to the list.

Iman Johnson (35:52):

Awesome. How can we help children and individuals that identify as members of the trans community build confidence?

Marshall Turner (36:04):

Ooh, providing that safe space, first and foremost, be willing to listen, as well as having resources. We here at The Center have a group called Child Gender Identity and Caregiver Support Group. They meet once a month, and it's for individuals who are as young as five and as old as 11, and their parents, to come. The kids go off with Alex, our transgender program coordinator. The parents go off with one of our mental health counselors, and they kind of have those conversations of how can they help fight the battles and things like that. Zebra Coalition is another great organization. They're a partner to us, just across the street and down the road two buildings. They really focus on LGBT youth aged 13 to 23. So knowing that not everybody has all the answers, no one organization is going to be the right fit for all of the needs, but knowing where to get people to, to then maybe get to the next step can be a big help, especially to the kids.

Iman Johnson (37:25):

Awesome. Thank you. And that is all of the questions that I have received so far.

Marshall Turner (37:33):


Iman Johnson (37:36):

All right. So, I am going to turn it back over to Sharon to close us out. Thank you. Just, I want to say thank you on behalf of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Council. This presentation has really, truly, truly been awesome. I got to preview the deck ahead of time, and I was like, “Oh, I can't wait.” <laugh>. So yeah, thank you so much.

Marshall Turner (37:56):

Thank you again so much for having me. And keep me in mind for next time you need something DEIB.

Iman Johnson (38:04):

Oh, oh, you’re on the list. <laugh>.

Marshall Turner (38:06):


Iman Johnson (38:10):

All right. Sharon, I'm going to turn it back over to you to close us out. You're getting a lot of “definitely on the list,” by the way.

Sharon Richardson (38:20):

Thank you again, you guys. Thank you so much for joining us, Marshall. This is the beginning of our new relationship. We will be chatting and connecting later in the year. Again, you guys, thank you very much. This will be up on the DEI website. Please feel free to share this with anyone. You guys, thank you, and have a great evening. Thank you.

Event Calendar

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DEI Council Leadership

With over 70 members, this council is focused on institutional DEI training and critical conversations as well as DEI-related holidays, recognition and awareness.

Meagan Mueller, MA


Mee Lee, BA

Co-Vice Chair

Jose Rodriguez, BS

Co-Vice Chair

Kathryn Moore, BS

Council Assistant

Julie Wesenick, MEd, CMA

Chair Emeritus

Kelly Anderson, MA

Vice Chair Emeritus

Dr. Rikkisha Gilmore-Byrd, MS, MPH, DrPH

Executive Sponsor

Statements to the Community

As an institution of higher education, it’s important that we speak out on events that affect our students, faculty and community. To cultivate a space where people feel safe to express themselves, we are dedicated to getting the conversation started.

Statement on Chauvin Verdict
Statement on George Floyd

Share Your Thoughts

Diversity, equity and inclusion are big ideas, but ultimately, they start with people—like you.

So, if you have any suggestions about how we can celebrate a cultural milestone, have feedback about one of our initiatives or just want to share your thoughts, let us know here!