Things to Consider When Moving to a College Campus Where Gay Life is Acceptable
It is a common scene on campuses across the country: gay students and faculty are harassed by anti-gay groups, whether on campus or off. In a recent survey, thirty-nine percent of colleges and universities reported that they had received complaints related to sexual orientation, gender identity, or conduct regarding sexual harassment. If you’re a lesbian student, it can be very frightening to think about the safety of your college experience and how it will affect your career. Here are some things lesbian students at colleges should consider:
If you’re worried about getting sexually involved with a student who is straight, there are two things you can do. First, call your school’s counseling center and ask what resources they provide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender students. Find out what the procedures are for dealing with issues of sexual harassment and other concerns. Most campuses have special centers designed to address these issues. Second, see if your school has a committee, such as a Gay Student Union, that is available to assist you in creating a safer environment for you on campus. Having a support group can make a huge difference in dealing with coming out, coming together, and learning to become the best you can be in college.
Attend a gay pride event on campus. Go online to find out what gay clubs are located on campus. Find out where the student union is located and what the activities and events are offered at these locations. You may also want to attend a gay pride march, as this can be an eye-opening and invigorating experience.
Know your rights and do what you need to protect them. There are federal laws that protect sexual orientation and gender identity. Some school districts have rules about whether your sexual orientation will affect you in your job application or college admissions. Many state constitutions have been put in place with protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. Make sure you know the legal protection for you as a gay college student.
Open up communication with the people in your life. There will be times when you will need to talk with your gay best friends or your lesbian sisters and brothers in order to clear up some confusion or questions you have about being lesbian. Be willing to do this with people who love you regardless of your sexual orientation. Your school should be a supportive, accepting place for everyone to be.
Know your rights and do what you need to protect them. Know your rights as a gay college student and find out what your rights are when it comes to your safety on campus. Know the policies the school has when it comes to sexual harassment and violence on campus. There might even be a support group that helps you navigate these things when necessary.
Open up about your sexuality. It is important to express yourself and your sexuality in your dorm room, the library, the locker room, the cafeteria, and anywhere else on campus. Lesbian students can be incredibly open about their sexuality and this can be incredibly helpful for those who are struggling to find their place or trying to get a new group to join. Also, ask other lesbians on campus if they would be willing to speak with you one-on-one to help you figure out where your spots are and how to get to know others with like interests. Some campuses are more open than others when it comes to being open and letting gay and lesbian people come together.
These are just a few of the things that can make your campus life more accepting and diverse for you and for other lesbian students. Sometimes, all it takes is a little extra effort on your part. Asking questions, making friends, and creating community are all great ways to create an environment that accepts you for who you are. You’ll feel more secure knowing that there are things gay students can do on campus that non-gay students cannot do.