Based at the UCLA School of Law, the Williams Institute is the nation’s leading research center on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. Researchers - including demographers, economists, social scientists and legal scholars - study the lives of LGBT individuals and families, and our reports inform policy decisions in the areas of employment discrimination, youth, health, adoption and parenting, immigration, military policy and state recognition of same-sex couples. Our scholars have testified before Congress; provided research on state legislative bills; partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau on outreach to and reporting on the LGBT community; and provided expert testimony for LGBT litigation throughout the country.
The Institute also invests deeply in education and leadership development. For example, the Institute’s judicial education program - the only program of its kind in the U.S. - has reached more than 2,500 sitting judges. The Institute also offers law and policy fellowships and other training opportunities to emerging scholars and leaders. Graduates of our fellowship programs now teach in tenure-track academic positions at universities throughout the country, and thousands of law students, lawyers and community and business leaders have attended Williams Institute trainings, conferences, and educational panels.
Independence: With the support and backing of one of the nation’s leading research institutions, the Williams Institute is committed to the highest standards of independent inquiry, academic excellence and rigor. Research findings and conclusions are never altered to accommodate other interests, including those of funders, other organizations, or government bodies and officials.
Impact: Because of the independence and rigor of the Institute’s work, it is regularly relied on by judges, policymakers, community and business leaders and the public. Institute research has been cited in every major print media publication in the country with approximately 400 citations per year in total. In addition, the Institute’s research findings have been relied on by federal and state legislatures, judges, and community leaders in public debates on every major issue impacting the LGBT community.
Background: The Institute was founded in 2001 through a gift by businessman, academic, and philanthropist Charles R. “Chuck” Williams. Mr. Williams’ inaugural donation of $2.5 million to create the Williams Institute was the largest donation at that time ever given to any academic institution in support of a gay and lesbian academic program in any discipline. In 2011, the Institute celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Over the last decade, the Institute grew from a small, part-time staff to a staff of 20, including scholars of diverse disciplines and backgrounds.