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LGBTQ Resource Center offers ‘safe space’ for students

The LGBTQ Resource Center strives to be a place students can go to feel safe and included. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The LGBTQ Resource Center strives to be a place students can go to feel safe and included. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Just up the stairs of Student Center North, there’s a safe space for students who want to be sociable, supported and educated.

The LGBTQ Resource Center is a place students can go to talk to people who understand their struggles, get help, make friends or even get a pride flag button. The goal of the center is to cultivate a safe space for LGBTQ youth to be proud and develop their authentic identity, according to their mission statement.

“You don’t need to be someone who is in need of any resource to come and just hang out at the center,” said Director of the LGBTQ Resource Center Lorraine Schroeder. “(The center) just has a really good feel to it. There’s a little living room atmosphere sometimes, as well as a community and getting to know other students.”

Some of the resources the center offers for its youth are support services, educational programs for allies and volunteer program training.

Schroeder said they currently have a peer-to-peer mentor program to match students who have already navigated their coming out and know a little bit about UH with students who might have had a bump in the road on the way.

“The mentor program works as a support service for the LGBTQ students and a leadership opportunity,” Schroeder said.

Something else the LGBTQ Resource Center provides is a place for different discussion groups. These groups are student-led but supervised and guided by Graduate Assistant Dani Soltis and Diversity Education Coordinator Jamie Gonzales. 

Gonzales said the center provides an Emergency Aid Fund. If a student is ever kicked out of their home, or if they aren’t being supported financially because of their LGBTQ identity, they can come see the staff at the resource center and fill out an application to see if they are eligible. 

Sociology freshman Deaunte Johnson said he already wants to start networking to be a part of the LGBTQ community on campus.

“I found out about the center through the flyers and events around campus that they marketed at,” Johnson said. “I don’t know every program at the center, but I do know that I want to join up with their GLOBAL program because of my interest and my hope to become more involved.”

Every year, the LGBTQ Resource Center partners with the organization GLOBAL to produce a series of Coming Out Monologues. Students who want to participate go through an audition process in late September and early October. More information can be found through the center’s website.

Johnson said some of the goals he has for this year are to meet new people at the center and make a difference on campus in some way. 

“Through the resource center, there’s many opportunities to get involved with the LGBTQ community, and I hope to take advantage of that to make a significant amount of change,” Johnson said.

More people are able to get involved with the center through the events they offer. They will be hosting an ice cream social from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Multipurpose Room of Student Center South, where students can meet other like-minded people and allies.

“For the most part, people here are very cool, nobody questions their identity and who they are,” Gonzales said. “We have our regulars always come by, but then we’ll have these events and see some new faces.”

Schroeder said students, regardless of sexuality or gender, should visit the center to learn more about the LGBTQ community in a safe and respectable manner.

“All LGBTQ students should stop by the center at least twice to get a feel of it,” Schroeder said. “Whether you think you need services or not, it is still a great place to check out and get to know us.”

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