Co-Deans Response to Tragic Shooting in Colorado

Diversity; Social Work

Dear Brown School Community,

On Saturday night, five people were killed and 18 others were injured, when a gunman entered Club Q, an LGBTQ night club in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and began shooting at patrons. Although the motive is under investigation, those who were present at Club Q have described their experience as a hate attack. We are heartbroken for the families and friends of all those who lost their lives and all those who have been injured. To have such an awful attack take place on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that honors the memories of trans people who have been murdered in acts of anti-transgender violence, adds to the heaviness of the day.

The LGBTQ community has made such great strides towards social justice and yet are still targets of hate for who they are and who they love. Sadly, this attack is not an isolated incident. Over a thousand people a year experience a hate crime based on their sexual orientation and hate crimes against transgender people have been rising annually. These acts are occurring and being fueled by increasingly aggressive, dehumanizing anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric that many are working to codify into law in cities, states, the country, and across the globe.

In 2022, nearly 300 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed in most states in the nation; in 2018 that number was 41. Books with LGBTQ characters or themes are being banned, and several states have enacted laws prohibiting and criminalizing gender-affirming care. Tennessee even introduced legislation that would criminalize public drag performances. This tragedy is happening at the very same day one of the world’s most popular sports events, the World Cup, is kicking-off in a country where sexual orientation and gender identity are not guaranteed for all, including visitors. This is a powerful demonstration of how much work needs to be done to advance LGBTQ rights across the globe.

Mass shootings in this country are a public health crisis, with more than 600 having occurred in 2022. Supporting the safety and human rights of our LGBTQ community is a social justice issue. As social work, public health, and social policy professionals, we are committed and equipped with the tools needed to contribute to ending this violence. Action is needed and activism in pursuit of justice will prevail. As trailblazing transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson stated, “You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.”

However, today we must grieve and make space for our sorrow that this is the state of our country and world. Tragic events such as this and the recent school shooting at the Central Visual Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, induce a wide array of emotions, including, sadness, fear and anger. During this difficult time as we try to process what has happened, let us be there for one another with love and compassion. We know that for some members of our Brown School community this painful event is a reminder of their own experiences of being targeted, threatened and harassed because of their gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and/or race and ethnicity. Know that you are not alone, you are in a community that cares about you and is here for you. If you find yourself in need of support and want to talk with someone on campus or in the community here are some resources:

For Faculty/Staff:
Work-Life Solutions is available for confidential emotional support at 844.365.4587

For Students:

In addition, we welcome conversations with you to help you navigate these resources. If you would find this helpful, please contact: 

Other Resources: 

  • The GLBT National Help Center: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)
  • Hotline: 1-888-THE-GLNH (888-843-4564)

Sincerely, Tonya & Rodrigo

Tonya Edmond, Interim Co-Dean
Rodrigo Reis, Interim Co-Dean
Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
Dean’s Office | Hillman Hall MSC 1196-0251-46, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130
Ph: 314.935.6693 |