“There is a lot of pride surrounding the recent achievements of LBGTQ2+ communities, but there is still much to be done to improve the lives of marginalized LGBTQ2+ people.”
That’s what prompted Samuel Singer, BCL/LLB’09, LLM’11, to approach McGill Law Dean Robert Leckey BCL/LLB'02 with the idea for a new entrance scholarship: one that supports outstanding students who have demonstrated a commitment to working on issues facing marginalized members of LGBTQ2+ communities.
“I received bursaries and scholarships while attending McGill,” says Singer, who’s now an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. “This tangible support made a big difference to me as a law student, and I wanted to pay it forward.”
Singer's research interests include tax law and trans legal issues. A long-time advocate for trans people, he founded Montreal's Trans Legal Clinic in 2014 and served as its supervising lawyer. More recently, he completed a report for the Canadian Human Rights Commission on trans case law and legal scholarship in Canada.
Dean Leckey chaired the committee that made Singer’s idea come to life. “The Faculty of Law wanted to put into practice my commitment to fostering equity and inclusion,” says Dean Leckey, “as well as reconnect with alumni who may not have found law school the most welcoming of places.”
The result is McGill Law’s Everett Klippert Scholarship. Klippert was arrested and imprisoned in the mid-1960s after he admitted to having consensual homosexual relations. His high-profile case shone a light on the extreme injustice of Canadian laws, helping to lead to the partial decriminalization of homosexual acts in 1969. Klippert, however, was not released from prison until 1971. “We liked the idea of marking the memory of someone who was so shamefully treated,” says Leckey.
For incoming student Emma Pritchard, the faculty’s commitment to building a diverse community “made McGill Law stand out as a clear choice.” Pritchard is the second recipient of the scholarship, and her interests align with its intentions: she is pursuing law with the goal of combatting the barriers that exist for marginalized peoples.
“The LGBTQ2+ community continues to face racism, ableism, and misogyny,” says Pritchard. “Law seemed to be the best path to gaining the skills and knowledge to tackle barriers to equity.”
Pritchard’s interest in law bloomed while earning her undergraduate degree in Global Development Studies. “I pursued a wide range of interests, including gender studies, Indigenous theory, and Indigenous ecology. All of my interests, and those who are doing the work I admire, are tied to the study of law.”
Pritchard chose McGill because of Law's focus on preparing for diverse legal practices. It's committed to becoming one of Canada's leading faculties in Indigenous legal studies, “and I see that as a core interest. My goal is to use the privilege I have to learn and to create positive change in the issues I’m passionate about – whether it’s on a community scale or a larger global scale.”
Her ambitions seem a match for Singer’s intentions. “I hope that this scholarship helps signal McGill Law’s commitment to working on LGBTQ2+ legal issues, to prioritizing that work, and to providing concrete assistance to future lawyers,.” says Singer. “There’s so much work to do to improve marginalized people’s lives, and students who are committed to this work need our support.”
If you would like to support the McGill Law Everett Klippert Scholarship, you can do so through the McGill Giving site.