Categorized | Features

LGBT Insight

By Sage Nenyue, Staff Writer

One thing seems abundantly clear to me: LGBT students need administrative support on campus.

While student-initiated groups are all well and good, at what point will LGBT students be able to depend on the administration to, for lack of a better phrase, have their backs?

According to the Scot’s Key, for example, while the College as an institution does not discriminate on the basis of a number of factors, including sexual orientation, there is no mention of gender identity and/or expression ó a sobering realization for transgender students.

While no two students are alike, scholars have gone into the field to quantify and classify the general trends in issues among LGBT students. Such issues include increased drug and alcohol usage as a means to cope with the pressure of not fitting into a heterosexual society, the perceived or real lack of social support (emotional, appraisal, instrumental and informational) and dealing with juggling one’s LGBT identity in a primarily non-LGBT world.

To focus on the social support point for a second, I would like to paraphrase John Dunn and say that no individual is an island and none of us can go through life completely autonomously ó especially†††††††††† students.

Most of us still rely on our parents to help us transition into adulthood. Part of the “typical” LGBT experience is the fear that, upon divulging your orientation or gender identity, you will lose the love and support of your family. Health educator Cornne Mufioz-Plaza and her colleagues point out four types of support that LGBT students may risk losing.

The first is emotional support, which is described as “love, caring, trust, listening and other similar behaviors.” Next is appraisal support: “Positive feedback or affirmation.” Then comes instrumental support, or “tangible resource or aid, including money, labor, time and barter.” Finally, informational support ó “advice or suggestions.”

As a campus where many students are far from home, bonds run deep and support is key to developing as an individual within the community. But without help from the administration to help students who need the extra encouragement, life on campus can be hell.

I am sure there could be argument to the contrary: “Why do gay kids need extra stuff? Let them pull themselves up by their own bootstraps if they want something.” I refute that by saying that everybody on this campus relies on some system or another to see that they are comfortable and taken care of.

Without Protective Services, many of us would be paranoid; without the Wellness Center, more students would fall ill. Why is it so hard to put another system in place that sees that LGBT students have someone in the administration they can talk to specifically about their needs?

International students have the International Students Association and minority students have the Office of Multi-ethnic Student Affairs. An LGBT resource center staffed with expert personnel that know how to advise LGBT students is a necessary component of The College of Wooster’s campus that we should look into obtaining.

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