F&M Stories

Young Alum Shines Light on LGTBQ Global Rights

Erin Hallenbeck’s Franklin & Marshall degree has taken her as far as the U.K. and the Netherlands. But today, the 2017 grad is making a global impact right from campus. 

Hallenbeck is project manager and research assistant for the F&M Global Barometers (FMGB), which measures the state of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in countries and territories through its twin barometers, the F&M Global Barometer of Gay Rights (GBGR) and the F&M Global Barometer of Transgender Rights (GBTR). 

“My favorite part is getting to research the whole world,” said Hallenbeck, who graduated with degrees in English literature and women's, gender and sexuality studies. “We track 204 countries and fill a gap in data. Not many people are tracking this topic. We're providing really relevant information people need.” 

Hallenbeck oversees daily operations, manages databases, contributes to primary research on gay and transgender rights, and develops communications materials.

“My hope for the project is that it helps guide policy and motivates governments and policymakers. No human rights are safe until LGBTQ human rights are safe,” she said. Read Hallenbeck's June 2023 op-ed article

Erin Hallenbeck

 

No day is the same, and can range from preparing asylum briefs for sexual orientation or gender identity minorities to unraveling data discrepancies. 

“What's different about us is the fact that we give a letter grade and score, which enables comparison. You can do longitudinal, comparative studies with our data,” Hallenbeck said. 

Many research hubs simply record ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ when assessing whether LGBTQ policies exist (for example, health-care anti-discrimination protections).

(Wondering where the U.S. measures? It earned a C grade. See the full global report.)

Hallenbeck credits an introductory course – “Gender, Sexuality and Power” – for igniting a passion for social-justice causes. 

“My education made me realize that so much had been left out of my public school education when it came to issues of race, gender, and sexuality,” she said. “I left committed to sharing the truth and working toward solutions.”

Hallenbeck went on to get a master's degree in women's studies from the University of Oxford. She also taught social studies and English as a second language classes outside Boston, and spent a year in the Netherlands on a Fulbright English teaching assistantship.

I knew that I wanted to go to a small liberal arts college because I wanted to attend an institution that valued the humanities and had a community feel. I wanted to be close with my professors and I wanted personalized support. That's why I came to F&M,” Hallenbeck said. 

And as fate would have it, the passion first ignited on campus is what brought her back. 

"My hope for the project is that it helps guide policy and motivates governments and policymakers. No human rights are safe until LGBTQ human rights are safe."

Erin Hallenbeck '17

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