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Pride Month Student Spotlight: Austin Stelter, AMICUS

Home Law School News Pride Month Student Spotlight: Austin Stelter, AMICUS

Austin Stelter is the 2022-23 President of AMICUS, the LGBTQ+ and allies student organization at South Texas College of Law Houston. He will be a third-year student this fall. This summer, Stelter is planning events for AMICUS and working with the STCL Houston Alumni Association to create an art auction that will launch this fall. The proceeds will help fund a diversity and inclusion scholarship. In addition, he is volunteering with STCL Dems at Pride Houston Celebration 2022 to help get people registered to vote.

Stelter took the time to answer a few questions about AMICUS.

What is AMICUS?

AMICUS is the LGBTQ+ and allies student organization at STCL Houston. Our goal is to advise and inform our student members about social, legal, and political issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces. But more than that, AMICUS is an organization that allows LGBTQ+ law students to be seen, heard and celebrated. Not only does AMICUS embrace diversity and celebrate its members, it also advocates for their equal rights under the law.

What does AMICUS add to the student experience for its members?

AMICUS offers an array of activities that mainly focus on the queer experience. Being queer often comes with uniquely difficult challenges that heterosexual individuals do not have to experience. As a queer person navigating in a heteronormative society, many queer people face judgment and prejudice, not only by the government and larger society but even by their own families at home. These daily challenges can often feel isolating, overwhelming and demoralizing. We at AMICUS want to provide a space where we can all be true to ourselves and be seen — not as labels, but as human beings.

What is the “presidential” experience like for you? And your officers? 

I have been president of AMICUS since my second semester of law school. Being the president has been an ongoing experience of growth and learning. I have always tried to be active in the LGBTQ+ community, but this experience has put me in a leadership position I have not been in before. It has pushed me to adapt and has helped me grow more confident in myself. In this upcoming year, I will have a new board of officers, and I am excited to see what talent and experience they bring to AMICUS.

How does AMICUS add to the campus environment?

I like to think AMICUS’ presence on campus allows LGBTQ+ students to fully express themselves without fear or judgment. In my personal experience, knowing there is an LGBTQ+ student organization on campus definitely made me feel better, and it opened up a whole community of people I would probably not have interacted with if it were not for AMICUS. It is nice to have that community, but it is also nice just being seen.

What does the group add to the community at large? And to the LGBTQ+ community?

AMICUS continues to partner with other LGBTQ+ organizations in Houston and the surrounding area to give back to the community. Many of our members volunteer at the Trans Legal Aid clinic, which assists trans and non-binary individuals with gender-marker identification corrections on their identifying documents. We also volunteer with the LGBT Houston Political Caucus, which helps to support LGBT and allies get elected into office. There will hopefully be more opportunities in the future for AMICUS and its members to support the LGBTQ+ community in Houston and the surrounding area.

Is there strong participation in AMICUS by allies?

We have a few members who are allies, but I wish more allies would join and participate. The allies that are members are very active, and AMICUS loves having their support!

What are the organization’s goals for this academic year?

Our main goal over the summer is to secure more artwork for the upcoming art auction to fund the diversity and inclusion scholarship. Last year, we collaborated with the Women’s Law Society (WLS) to present some amazing queer female role models in an event series titled, “Queer Women Making History.” This year, we would love to partner with the Black Law Students Association, similarly to WLS last semester, and have Black queer speakers come and talk during Black History Month.

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