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San Diego universities go extra mile to help GLBT students

SAN DIEGO -- When most people think of the typical Southern California college, the safety, equality and rights of GLBT students don’t usually cross their minds.

However, San Diego State University and the University of California San Diego are working hard to foster an environment of acceptance and pride for GLBT students on each of the campuses.

With all of the dangers that GLBT students face in daily life, at least two San Diego universities are doing their part to protect and aid GLBT students.

San Diego State University

SDSU has been ranked one of the top 20 most diverse universities in the nation. Part of the diversity comes through the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning students and programs.

Their GLBT program homepage can be found HERE.

SDSU is working to provide a safe and supportive on-campus lifestyle for GLBT students.

Beginning at the start of the 2009-10 school year, a GLBT minor became available for students at SDSU. The minor covers a range of topics pertaining to the GLBT community, including history, culture, sexuality and gender.

SDSU is only the third school in the California State University system to adopt and offer this program.

Beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, gender-neutral housing will be available. Students simply indicate on their housing form their interest in gender-neutral housing.

Roommate pairings are not based on gender identity; hence residents in these halls may select any roommate they wish. More information can be found HERE.

Two separate internships and scholarships are available through the GLBT program at SDSU. Visit HEREfor more information and deadlines.

The Safe Zones program at SDSU is another aid to LGBT students. The program strives to create a supportive and welcoming environment to all members of the campus community.

Carrie Sakai, a clinical psychologist and co-chair of the Safe Zones program, says the program aims to prevent discriminatory incidents from even taking place. Sakai says the program increases effectiveness and visibility of GLBT allies across the campus.

“When a student walks down the hallway of a department on campus and sees Safe Zones stickers on door after door, or sees a university police officer who is wearing a Safe Zones pin, they become aware that they are supported by people they may never even speak to directly.” Sakai said.
Allies are people who support all genders and sexual orientations and work to combat homophobia personally and institutionally, she says. All allies have participated in a three-hour training workshop and are prepared to be a visible “first contact” for members of the GLBT community on campus.

“The process of becoming an effective ally requires self-awareness and a willingness to push beyond what is easy or comfortable, and I have a deep respect for those who take on that challenge” Sakai said.

Events on and off campus provide GLBT solidarity.

There are a number of events both through SDSU and in the community that SDSU participates in. Many of these events are offered through the Safe Zones program.

The LGBTQ Resource Fair and Big Gay BBQ was held March 18 at Scripps Cottage at SDSU and brought together a number of campus organizations, gay-friendly businesses, live entertainment and guest speakers.

The Queer People of Color Conference is being held at SDSU from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, in Aztec Center.

The 2010 Women’s Lecture series is a joint venture between The Center and SDSU’s Women’s Studies Department.

The lecture schedule is as follows per SDSU’s Web site: March 18, “National Gay Task Force in the Roosevelt Room: Politics of the First White House Meeting”; April 1, “Lesbians and Retirement in San Diego: Identifying Their Needs”; and April 15, “Outlaws on the Playing Field: Women’s Sexualities and Homophobia in Women’s Sports.” The lectures are free and are held at 7 p.m. in The Center’s library.

University of California San Diego

UCSD is also working hard to foster an environment of understanding and safety for GLBT students.

The Web site for the LGBT Resource Center at UCSD can be found HERE.

UCSD is making strides through its LGBT Resource Center.

The resource center offers internship opportunities and is home to a long list of GLBT organizations, including The Alliance, a group dedicated to raising awareness on campus of GLBT issues; Coming Out Group; Fluid Sexuality; Queer Support Program; Queer People of Color; and Transgender Intersex Alliance.

A full list of organizations and the times that they meet can be found HERE.

The LGBT Resource Center is the largest LGBT center on any public university’s campus, said Shaun Travers, director of the center.
UCSD’s LGBT center helps, aids and supports GLBT students through education, programming internships, promoting academic research and building workplace equity, he said.

“This center sustains and develops visibility, sense of community and knowledge of diverse queer people,” Travers said.

The intern programming works to assist the community on and off campus by helping people connect, living the values of social justice, educating community members and developing leadership skills in order to advance awareness and support of LGBT students.

“The center challenges existing definitions of variant genders and sexualities by engaging in community building on- and off-campus,” Travers said.

The interns take part in leading different series. From the Anti-Racism Series to the Gender Identity Series to the Sexual Orientation Series, they are designed educate the community about their respective topics.

“The focus of our work is building community, and our mission calls us to create a diverse, open and public space for all members of the university community to explore issues relating to sexual and gender identities, practices and politics,” Travers said.

GLBT support is campuswide.

In addition to the LGBT Resource Center, there are a number of other ways UCSD supports GLBT students.

On-campus housing is transgender friendly and there are a number of gender neutral restrooms available throughout the campus.

Study abroad opportunities are also available and six GLBT undergraduate scholarships are offered. A full list of scholarships and deadlines can be found HERE.

A number of “Q” classes are offered at UCSD each semester. Each class has significant relevance to LGBT students and their allies. Classes include AIDS Science & Society, Queer Theory, History of Sexuality and many others.

A full list of “Q” classes can be found HERE.

Officials at San Diego State University and the University of California San Diego say they continue to work tirelessly to support and aid GLBT students so they can have a full and enjoyable college experience along with all other students. In a time when so many GLBT students are being discriminated against and targeted because of their sexual identity, SDSU and UCSD officials say they are actively working to stop discrimination and make a safe and comfortable place for GLBT students.