How to navigate LGBTQ+ resources available on campus for all students

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How to navigate LGBTQ+ resources available on campus for all students

This graphic shows all 32 of the gender neutral bathrooms on campus with three of them being multiple stalls and the others being singles.

This graphic shows all 32 of the gender neutral bathrooms on campus with three of them being multiple stalls and the others being singles.

Emily Burgess

This graphic shows all 32 of the gender neutral bathrooms on campus with three of them being multiple stalls and the others being singles.

Emily Burgess

Emily Burgess

This graphic shows all 32 of the gender neutral bathrooms on campus with three of them being multiple stalls and the others being singles.

by Juniper Perkins, Staff Writer

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Identities can be hard to navigate, especially when moving into a new phase of life. College is full of new experiences, people and places. It can be hard to find resources in a new setting, but San Diego State offers many options for different communities on campus. 

The LGBTQ+ community is one of these groups. SDSU was ranked the 12th best college for LGBT students, according to BestCollege’s 2019 Campus Pride Index score

“I’m not surprised,” Dayne Sakazaki, music education sophomore , said. “I think the statistic is believable.” 

Sakazaki lived in Zura’s Pride House for his freshman year and was also enrolled in the university’s Pride 101 class. 

Several factors contribute to this ranking, such as SDSU’s Pride Center, numerous gender neutral bathrooms, the LGBTQ+ Studies program and more. 

“They’re definitely a step in the right direction,” geology sophomore Jules Carll said. Carll is a nonbinary lesbian who uses they/them or he/him pronouns. 

 

The Pride Center

Carll also said some of the support on campus feels surface level. But other resources, such as the Pride Center, offer an important sense of home.

The Pride Center is home to programs such as Queer Open Mic, Big Queer Drag Battle and The Royal’s Ball. It also offers a relaxing lounge with books, movies and games for students to use. 

There is a bring-some-take-some closet for students in need of gender-affirming clothes. The center hosts one of SDSU’s gender neutral restrooms and the University Seminar for students living in Zura’s Pride House. 

“[They] have been very respectful to me,” psychology sophomore Juan Barcenas said. 

Barcenas also lived in the Pride House and uses she/her, he/him and they/them pronouns. They are also involved in the drag scene at SDSU, with a planned appearance at the annual Dragstravaganza on Aug. 31 in Montezuma Hall.

 

Gender Neutral Restrooms

SDSU is home to over 30 gender neutral restrooms. They can be found in throughout lecture halls, residence halls and the library. A full list is available on The Pride Center’s resource page

“The gender neutral restrooms are accessible,” geology sophomore Carll said. “But I think making all restrooms neutral would be a lot more helpful than asking gender-nonconforming students to seek out safe places to pee,” Carll said.

 

LGBTQ Community in Academia

SDSU offers an LGBTQ Studies major, minor and graduate certificate. Some of the classes included in the major discuss various LGBT identities, history and culture. 

In the program’s upper-level internship course, students are given the opprotunity to work with one of many organizations including The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, SafeZones@SDSU, Mama’s Kitchen and more. 

The LGBTQ Studies program also offers a Lavender Graduation, recognizing the acheivement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students alongside their allies. The ceremony is held prior to commencement and doesn’t replace the official ceremony. Lavender Graduation awards students with a certificate, a rainbow cord and an invitation to the university’s LGBT Alumni Chapter. 

 

Official Name Changes

Transgender students can take advantage of the university’s preferred name procedure, where they can have their preferred,  or “real,” name recognized on their Blackboard, REDid card, roll call, SDSUid email and more. 

Changing a name on a REDid card requires a new card to be issued to the student which costs $20. 

Starting in Fall 2020, students can have their preferred name recognized on their diplomas as well. 

 

Teacher Training

Another important aspect is how the faculty and staff at SDSU are trained to accept, accommodate and welcome LGBT students. According to SafeZones@SDSU’s website, the organization offers training sessions to ensure a campus atmosphere that is welcoming, informative, educational and safe for all LGBTQ students and other members of the campus community. 

Several professors display SafeZones stickers in their offices to signify their space is safe for members of the LGBTQ community and that they have received Ally Training. 

SafeZones also sets up a table intermittently in the Aztec Student Union or next to the Malcolm A. Love Library. The group provides informational pamphlets on various LGBTQ-related topics.

 

The Value of Support

A 2017 survey by GLSEN found those who experience higher levels of victimization due to their sexuality or gender were twice as likely to report they would not pursue post-secondary education. The biennial survey provides data for the GLSEN National School Climate Survey and samples students aged 13 to 21. 

The study also found that students who attend a school with an LGBTQ-inclusive cirriculum felt safer and reported less victimization. Attending a school that is more accepting of students’ sexuality and gender can be a huge relief, as it gives students the opportunity to more comfortably establish a community, engage with others and feel supported through every step of their journey.

“Don’t be afraid of people,” Sakazaki said. “Especially as a member of the LGBT community, there aren’t a lot of us and we need each other.” He also wants LGBTQ freshmen to remember that labels aren’t important; there’s nothing wrong with continuing to discover your identity as an adult. 

While the community is there to support all LGTBQ+ students, Barcenas said those who put themselves out there will get the most out of their time at SDSU.

“We have a lot of queer events around campus [so] don’t be afraid to go,” Barcenas said. “Help your community and they’ll help you back. SDSU is one of the safest campuses for the LGBTQ community. Express yourself.” 

The Pride Center is located on 5141 Campanile Dr., adjacent to the Women’s Resource Center. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. 

 

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