A week after the LGBT website launched on Sept. 12 in response to the university-wide Gender and Sexuality Assessment, students and faculty expressed mixed feelings about its effectiveness, many arguing the university needs a deeper change in mindset.
While students and faculty generally approved of the website as a first step, many indicated that there are other areas that need improvement.
Dylan Morpurgo, a junior political science major and president of Temple College Democrats, said the location of the website might need to be changed from its current location as part of the executive office of the president’s website.
“I think the new website is in a location that most students aren’t going to see since it’s on the president’s page,” Morpurgo, financial director of Queer Student Union, said. “Maybe a different location would work better.”
Assistant Vice President Anne Nadol said that the website would be kept where it currently is because it covers a widespread area of issues, but it could be moved in the future.
“We didn’t want to put it only in student affairs or only in faculty because it really covers everything. At this point, the plan is to keep it [on the president’s website] since the survey and the survey results came out of the president’s office,” Nadol said.
Women’s studies professor, Siobhan Brooks-King, expressed several concerns voiced by her LGBT-identified students.
“Overall, students I work with reported feeling physically safe, but not included in the campus,” Brooks-King said. “Many of them are not aware that QSU exists.”
There is an assumption that all students are straight, Brooks-King added. Students called for measures that are sensitive when it comes to housing. They recommended gender-neutral roommate choices and gender-neutral bathrooms, the latter being a worrisome issue for transgender students that feel intimidated of using the bathroom assigned to them.
She said students said that transgender issues and gender identity were not discussed in gender courses and classes, like sociology.
“They talk about man and woman, gender equity and wage gaps,” Brooks-King said. “These classes mention that there are only two sexes and that sex is the same as gender.”
Students wish the idea of gender was more sophisticated in terms of how it is defined, she added.
The open dialogue between Brooks-King and her students is the type of relationship that HEART plans to foster among teachers and students.
“Our department is working toward implementing an ally training program across the institution,” HEART Director Kimberly Chestnut said.
The ally training program will allow teachers who support the LGBT community to be identified by students who need to speak about their issues. Allies will be identified through specific designations such as stickers and posters, Chestnut said.
“There are lots of faculty and staff who wish to be identified in that way,” Chestnut added.
This program is considered especially important for those students who are not members of any organization within the LGBT community.
“If you as an individual want to have support from an ally, all you need to do is identify a faculty or staff member who has one of these stickers,” Chestnut said. “They’re wanting to be available to support students in that capacity.”
“What we’ve learned through our own research is that there are three professionals students trust to get health information from,” Diedre Berry-Guy, healthy lifestyles program coordinator, said. “One being a medical doctor or nurse, two being faculty and three being a health educator.”
Both Chestnut and Berry-Guy emphasized the importance of students finding role models in faculty members in order to promote an open and unprejudiced environment on Main Campus.
“People need to start accepting the LGBT community as the norm, not something out of the norm,” Carolyn Thorn, a music therapy major, said. “It shouldn’t be a surprise any more.”
Laura Ordonez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.