Gay and Lesbian Resources in Universities in Canada
With sexual experimentation being an important part of college and university life, many students are discovering they are in fact not straight, and are looking for resources to help them in their “coming out”. And for students who are already queer-identified, colleges and universities are a perfect place to learn more about their sexual orientation and what it means for them outside the bedroom. With this in mind, many schools now offer lebian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) resources as a matter of course. This can range from an informal group of like-minded individuals, to a recognized student society, to a office or building devoted to this group of students.
LGBTQ centers are places on campus that provides resources and support for non-straight and straight students. Depending on the campus, an LGBTQ center’s mission may include faculty support, student advocacy, alumni relations, and public relations with the greater community.
An LGBTQ center may provide academic resources related to LGBTQ studies, support social opportunities for LGBTQ people to interact, and sponsor educational events for the entire campus. Most centers provide referrals to other campus departments or off-campus organizations to help meet student needs.
Some LGBTQ centers provide psychological counseling for students struggling with their sexual or gender identity and for students coping with internal or external prejudice. This can include personal attacks, straight students having difficulties coping with a gay roommate, and students curious about their sexual feelings and what it means for their sexual identity.
Some LGBTQ centers may provide financial aid to students such as scholarships, research grants, or work opportunities. This can be especially important for LGBT students, as unsupportive parents may withdraw their financial support upon learning of their child’s sexual orientation.
As well as financial support, LGBTQ centers also offer gay- and lesbian-friendly housing options, since some students are uncomfortable sharing student housing with heterosexist roommates.
LGBTQ centers also often house library material related to gay and lesbian issues, as well as alternative magazines and newspapers. These materials are generally free of charge to borrow and only require student status to access.
Volunteers organized by the Office of Human Rights, Equity Office, or Student Associations, are available to provide students with information and peer support on a variety of issues, including sexual orientation, coming out, safer sex, oppression, harassment, personal safety, and health. They will often accommodate special needs by providing personnel of specific sexual identities when requested.
There are also a variety of other opportunities to support sexual diversity. These include examining policies and other School documents for heterosexist language, participating in the training and support of other peers, and working with other members of the peer network to increase visibility of the LGBTQ community on campus.
Campaigns and initiatives
Many schools have campaigns, initiatives, and workshops which are intended to raise the visibility of lesbian, gay, bi, and trans-gendered students, staff, and faculty. The school’s Office of Human Rights or Equity Services usually administers these campaigns and workshops, and they are open to all.
Some schools have student societies devoted to the LGBTQ community. They operate similarly to resource centers in that they exist to provide support, advocacy, and education for the LGBTQ community and the people who support them (straight friends, etc).
These societies are dedicated to educating faculty and students, as well as the surrounding community regarding queer issues. This is done through workshops, special events, speaking engagements, and by the society's active participation in other community events.
LGBTQ societies also provide the queer community with constitutional recognition. They serve as a representative of the community's issues and views. They are also a political force lobbying for the needs and rights of students, staff, faculty, and community members.
Many social and educational events organized by LGBTQ societies include gender-free formals, drag queen bingos, sex toy workshops, polyamoury workshops, LGBTQ legal seminars, safe sex workshops, movie nights, National Coming Out Day advocacy, Valentine's Day socials, and Positive Space Campaign presentations.