LGBTQA Student Resource Center Offers Community
You may see the rainbow flags hanging from the windows of 101 Boucke when you’re meandering past the HUB on your way to class — it’s where support groups, discussions, student organizations, mentor groups, and even workshops are developed.
The LGBTQA Student Resource Center is known for making positive change and creating a safe space on campus. Penn State even garnered a top 30 ranking among LGBTQA friendly universities this week.
Assistant Director Sonya Wilmoth explained the Center supports an “invisible population.” In other words, there are many students in the LGBTQA community who aren’t involved with the center or haven’t come out. This explains the “we are here if you want to stop by” mentality I experienced visiting the Center. The relaxed and open vibe of the Center allows students who want to get involved to feel comfortable.
To be clear, the Center isn’t unimportant or underwhelming just because it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many students it could support. It still provides a wide variety of resources for the growing LGBTQA community at Penn State.
The Center currently hosts multiple closed groups for individuals who identify with a specific sector of the community in addition to open groups for all students in the community to get involved.
Even students who are allies of the LGBTQA community can take part in popular forums like Straight Talks and Safe Zone training. Straight Talks are panels of three to five people who identify as members or allies of the LGBTQA community. They talk, share, and engage with the audience to “educate members of the university community about lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender identities” according to the Straight Talks webpage. The Center also hopes to “expand the number of individuals who define themselves as allies” through Straight Talks.
Safe Zone is a training program that offers four sessions: Safe Zone 101, The Safe Zone 102, Intersectionality 101, and Transgender 101. These training sessions aim to teach each attendee how to “be an effective ally to LGBTQA students,” according to the Safe Zone webpage. “Safe Zone Training supports PSU’s mission of providing a culturally diverse and mutually respectful environment where every member of the university community can feel safe, respected, and accepted.”
More than 350 faculty and staff members are involved in the growth of the Center through involvement in Safe Zone.
The rainbow stickers with the Penn State paw on various office and classroom doors indicate that the faculty member is trained and participating in Safe Zone practices, which ensure LGBTQA students have a positive experience in the classroom and in other areas of campus life.
The community of factually, staff, and students here have worked hard to create a positive environment for every student who calls Penn State a home away from home. Show your support this semester — maybe Penn State will even crack the top 10 list next year.