Celebrating Pride 365: Supporting LGBTQ+ Students and Offering Support through the College Application Process

Melissa Monier is an AdviseMI alumna and is currently pursuing her a Master’s Degree in Media Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

During June Pride Month, it is easy to get swept up in the rainbows and glitter, to celebrate the beauty and diversity of life, to celebrate love and to support one another. But Pride is also a month of remembering LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trasngender, Queer, and the “+” stands for a multitude of identities that are always growing and expanding) history and also recognizing that we still have a ways to go to ensure equal access and treatment for this vulnerable, yet resilient, population.

LGBTQ+ issues are college access issues. According to GLSEN and the HRC (Human Rights Campaign):

  • 73% of LGBTQ+ youth have been bullied because of their actual or perceived LGBTQ+ identity.
  • 42.5% of LGBTQ+ of LGBTQ+ high school students reported that they did not plan to finish high school/considering dropping out because of the harassment, they faced at school
  • LGBTQ+ high school students were twice as likely to report that they did not plan to pursue any post-secondary education

Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde said: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” We are not one-dimensional. We often use the term “intersectionality” to describe the way that all of our multifaceted identities and intersect to shape our experiences and the way we navigate through our everyday lives.

Our students of color could also be our LGBTQ+ students. Our students on free/reduced lunch, our DACA/DACA-mented students, Dreamers, first-generation American students could also be our LGBTQ+ students. Our rural students, urban or suburban students could also be our LGBTQ+ students. Our homeless or independent students could also be our LGBTQ+ students (and in many cases, LGBTQ+ students experience homelessness at an even higher rate). We fight and advocate for these issues, and because our students are often at the intersections of more than one, we also need to fight and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, especially in our schools.

Be an allyGLSEN has some great resources on learning how to improve your allyship:

  • Assess your personal beliefs. Check yourself for any anti LGBTQ+ bias, understand your own privileges, and learn more about LGBTQ+ terminology.
  • Respond to anti-LGBTQ+ behavior: stand up for students and stop transphobic or homophobic behavior when you see/hear it. Use inclusive language. Be visible in your allyship.
  • Being in a near-peer situation as a College Adviser, students are going to trust you. You have the opportunity and the responsibility to make sure your space is a safe and affirming space. If a student confides in you or comes out to you, listen and offer them support, but don’t assume they need any help.
  • Don’t think you have all the answers, and don’t make any assumptions. We’re all learning, and we all have to start somewhere! Make sure you’re listening to your students, they’ll tell you what they need. Sometimes your support and visible allyship is more than enough.

College can be a safe-haven for LGBTQ+ students; a place to be independent, to freely be themselves to explore their identities, and a place to connect and meet others who share their experiences and can support them. College was the first time that I had the space, the resources, and the encouragement of faculty and other students to explore queer issues and develop a passion for intersectional feminism and activism, which I believe helped me greatly during my service as a College Adviser. That’s why finding the perfect fit is so important.

 There are a few resources available to help your students through the college search process:

  1. The Campus Pride Index allows colleges to self-report information about their institution and then Campus Pride scores them based on LGBTQ+ inclusivity. If you are working with a student, this can be a good place to start showing them options, or be aware of the resources that they might want to look out for in their college search process.
  2. University representatives: your reps will be able to answer student questions or refer them to other campus resources. Some questions you might want to ask: Are there gender-neutral bathrooms on campus? Is there gender-neutral housing or LGBTQ+ housing? Is there an LGBTQ+ resource center? Is there a preferred name policy or an option for students to add a preferred name to the system? Are there any scholarships for LGBTQ+ students? Are there any counselors/health services for LGBTQ+ students?
  3. Also, look for local LGBTQ+ organizations in your local/surrounding communities that can offer support or resources

As we celebrate pride, we are called to re-evaluate what it means to be an ally, and we must remember to support those that need it most, not just in June, but 365 days a year.

Additional resources:

Posted: June 27, 2019
Author: Melissa Monier 

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