LGBTQ Resource Center director retires, reflects on position
As the first director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, Lorraine Schroeder’s 11 years of service to the queer community on campus is slowly coming to an end.
When the center was first established, the director position was only half-time and remained so for three years, according to Schroeder.
With an initial budget of $10,000 and a small, growing collection of a lending library, Schroeder managed to grow the center into one that now sees between 2,000 – 3,000 students a semester.
This number is as opposed to the couple hundred seen before the center moved into Student Center North.
While working to build the LGBTQ Resource Center from the ground up, Schroeder had a hope to implement more information surrounding sexual health. She was aiming to talk about it more frequently, the center has had few sessions around it.
“This semester, I had my grad student and an intern work on developing an internship program for another graduate student, which would be like a sexual health ambassador,” Schroeder said. “And that person could step into the structure of the internship and then provide sexual health information to the students.”
Throughout the years, Schroeder has come across different views and beliefs in the director’s position, and one of the skills she has learned is how to better navigate communicating with various other people with opinions.
“The negative messages that come from society, and especially if they come from family or a religion that’s important to them, those wound our community so deeply,” Schroeder said. “In order to stay resilient, we have to stand firm and stay connected to other people that are going to lift us up.”
When recalling some of the decisions the University has made in order to be more inclusive, such as for students’ preferred name to take over in the system, Schroeder brings up the argument that some students might enter a random name just for fun.
“We’re not going to make a decision about being inclusive to an at-risk population based on some 18 or 19-year-olds that might be goofing around and not taking things seriously,” Schroeder said. “Those 18 or 19-year-olds are going to suffer the consequences.”
After years of serving the LGBT community at UH, Schroeder will be riding her bike more frequently, traveling to New York to see Broadway shows and continuing her involvement with Lesbians Over the Age of Fifty.
Schroeder’s words of advice to the next director are to focus on listening to the students as well as learning from any given feedback and to be thankful for it.
“I like to make sure that I focus on the LGBTQ students and supporting specifically what they need,” Schroeder said. “The other important thing is to educate people on campus; to continue to make UH a more welcoming environment for the LGBTQ students here.”