facebook

LGBTQ Resource

LGBTQ RESOURCES

for new and returning students

LGBTQ Legal Aid Organizations

Here are a few organizations that may provide legal support for LGBTQ students:

LAMBA LEGAL

LAMBA LEGAL

This is the country’s oldest legal organization that has a goal of achieving full recognition of civil rights for LGBTQ people.

The LGBTQ Bar

National LGBT Bar Association

This is an association of judges, lawyers, and legal professionals, and they maintain a great list of affiliates at state and municipal levels throughout the USA.

Apla Heath

APLA HEALTH

APLA is a non-profit organization working on promoting health care equity and equality for LGBTQ people.

Equality Califronia

EQUALITY CALIFORNIA

This is one of the largest organizations in California, promoting dignity, safety, and equality for LGBTQ individuals.

LAMBA LEGAL

APLA HEALTH

APLA is a non-profit organization working on promoting health care equity and equality for LGBTQ people.

GLAD

GLAAD

GLAAD is a media organization with a powerful voice on all matters that also impact LGBTQ students.

Victory Fund

LGBTQ Victory Fund

The main focus of this organization is to increase the number and profile of LGBTQ individuals in all levels of municipal, state, and federal government.

woman2

Helpful Resources for
 
LGBTQ Students

National LGBTQ Task Force

While this organization isn’t just for LGBTQ students, its goal is very much aligned with what students are looking for.

“We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives.” - National LGBTQ Task Force

Trans Student Educational Resources

It is an LGBTQ student-run organization primarily focused on the needs and requirements to make college facilities LGBTQ-friendly. It’s a great sign when you see very young people get together like this to work towards a big change.

Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network

GLSEN primarily works with college administrators, teachers, lecturers, and students to make educational environments safer for the LGBT community, and they closely work with local groups to create more awareness in communities.

The Gay-Straight Alliance

GSA has taken a unique approach to creating more inclusive campuses around the country. They train student leaders to set up and promote campus organizations where straight and LGBTQ students get together to collectively create a more inclusive campus.

Safety Net

One of the most daunting situations LGBTQ students can face is heading to a religious school that might have certain exemptions from legal protections. Safety Net primarily works with LGBTQ people, teachers, and administrative staff at such colleges to foster inclusive attitudes and rules.

Out For Work

This is a great support group that connects LGBTQ-friendly companies to hire LGBTQ students for internships and post-graduate employment. This levels the playing field so that students can achieve maximum educational and career success no matter what their LGBTQ status is.

Campus Pride

Campus Pride is one of the largest and most active campus organizations that work directly with LGBTQ centers all over the country on hate crime prevention and establishing frameworks for colleges to compete on.

This has also allowed them to create an index of the most LGBT-friendly colleges, which is an excellent way for students to make better school choices.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is another non-profit organization that provides crisis support and a national suicide prevention helpline. They have expanded their services to text and chat to give people the greatest flexibility to seek help in a way they are most comfortable with at the time.

Transitioning from high school to college is a difficult, challenging, and often daunting experience for all students. But for anyone identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer students (LGBTQ), there are added levels of stress that can make this experience even more challenging.

And while some colleges have created a very welcoming environment for their LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff, there are still many issues that need to be resolved.

By collecting the personal experiences of many LGBTQ college students, this guide will help you make a better decision so you enjoy and thrive in your college years.

The Problems LGBTQ Students Face

While college life should be about fun, friendship, learning, and growing as a person, it’s important that you understand the real challenges LGBTQ college students face. It doesn’t mean that you’ll experience these issues if you don’t choose the right college.

But I want to make sure all of our readers are aware of what still is an all too common reality.

1. FEELING OF ISOLATION AND NOT BELONGING THERE

This is a particularly problematic thing for LGBTQ students.

Many of you have great family support at home and a circle of friends that make you feel welcome and safe.

In many cases, it has taken a lot of time to build up that support and trust in people.

And while anyone starting a new life with new surroundings and new people might have the same starting point at college, it’s a lot more difficult and daunting to find and integrate with supportive environments for LGBTQ students.

Unfortunately, there are still many schools and colleges where support and protections for LGBTQ college students are not fully preserved on campus.

As a result, LGBTQ students end up in situations where they are excluded from everyday college life, resulting in heartbreaking loneliness. And it doesn’t take long for such an experience to cause depression and anxiety.

2. OVERT AND COVERT HARASSMENT

The unfortunate reality is that many people who identify as LGBTQ go through middle and high school enduring relentless harassment and bullying. At a time when life and physical changes are challenging enough, this makes going to school on a daily basis hardship rather than fun.

Constantly looking over your shoulder and having to hear hurtful and disgusting remarks whispered and shouted around you is an all too common reality.

But unfortunately, college doesn’t mean that people like that suddenly mature and change their attitude. According to some surveys, overt sexual harassment of LGBTQ students is still a very common complaint across the country. [1]

3. MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

Anxiety and depression are extremely common among LGBTQ students, with some estimates indicating they are three times more likely to be suffering from mental health issues. [2]

And if you talk to other LGBTQ students, they will likely confirm that they struggled with mental health at one point or another.

It should come as no surprise that isolation, loneliness, and harassment all contribute to mental health problems.

In some cases, these problems become worse because many colleges offer limited mental health support to LGBT students struggling with issues of this nature.

Not only are these college environments causing depression, but they further worsen them by not offering the necessary help.

4. FINANCIAL ISSUES

Many LGBTQ college students come out before they head to college. While many families support, defend, and protect LGBTQ youth, this isn’t always the case.

Very often, coming out results in conflict among families, and things can get out of hand. Such a hostile environment is difficult enough to deal with and may also result in LGBTQ students getting cut off from financial support.

And with tuition costs at their highest in history, many students either face dropping out or turning to the campus LGBTQ community or an LGBTQ center for help.

5. ACEDEMIC STRUGGLES

When you consider the huge uphill battle that comes with student life for LGBTQ youth, it shouldn't be surprising to hear that these students often struggle academically as well.

In extreme cases, they may feel so alienated in classes and lectures that they avoid attending the classes.

And when your mind is so preoccupied with isolation, financial issues, and mental health problems, study time becomes a lot less effective.

That's why a strong LGBTQ community is needed to create protection and support so that LGBTQ students can go about their college life just like everyone else.

circle1

Defining a safe and welcoming experience

The next thing I want to highlight in this LGBTQ college guide before I get to some actionable advice on how LGBTQ youth could choose the right college is to explain what a safe environment would look like.

1. COLLEGE LGBTQ COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Many colleges and universities have very active, outspoken, and well-organized support groups for LGBTQ college students. They also organize regular campus pride events to make the campus a more inclusive place.

These might seem like minor things to some readers, but when LGBTQ students don’t have to live and study in isolation, they thrive as students and people.

When the wider student population is accustomed to studying, living, and enjoying leisure time alongside LGBTQ college students, it creates a more inclusive environment of mutual respect and tolerance.

2. GUIDELINES THAT SECURE LGBTQ RIGHTS

LGBTQ college students have several legal protections at the federal and state level that should protect them from harassment and discrimination.

I say “should” because, in reality, there are still many colleges that are not decisive in their actions when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

You’ll enjoy a much safer and enjoyable college experience if there is evidence that a college has rules and takes action on those rules.

If disciplinary actions have been taken against people for breaches on campus, LGBTQ students will be more likely to feel comfortable and safe.

3. SUPPORT FOR COMING OUT

Not all LGBTQ students have already come out before their first day in college. In some cases, they might live in communities and families where doing so would not be tolerated and might even attract violence.

But when a college has an active LGBTQ community with support organizations and resources for LGBTQ students, it can often be the first step in coming out. When people support and encourage you to make that big step, it doesn't have to remain a daunting or even terrifying experience.

4. SAFE ENVIRONMENT OUTSIDE OF COLLEGE CAMPUSES

Another thing that makes colleges and universities a safe place has to do with the environment outside of the campus.

It’s one thing to have a supportive LGBTQ community within the confines of the campus.

But if many people around the college still harbor discrimination and harassment, then it’s not an ideal place.

Some indications of such a lack of wider community support are the absence of LGBTQ resource centers as well as openly LGBTQ bars, cafés, and restaurants.

It should never be just about campus culture, as that could end up still restricting you.

Defining a safe and welcoming experience

As an LGBTQ student, no matter how inclusive college campuses might be, discrimination and harassment can still happen.

But lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer college students theoretically enjoy certain protections under state and federal laws.

The reason I say “theoretically” is because dealing with such issues through legal means is complex.

It’s not quite as simple as waving a statute in front of college officials to demand justice.

It’s important the students of any sexual orientation and trans students fully understand what kind of laws they have on their side.

Legal Resources for LGBTQ Students

TITLE IX OF THE EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 1972

This is by far the most important piece of legislation as it is purposely designed to protect students who attend a public college or university which also receive federal funding. [3]Basically, any college or school that receives even the smallest amount of money from the Department of Education has to abide by and enforce the legislation.

And it provides specific protections for students based on their gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, race, and religion.

But what does it actually provide?

Essentially, any school or college that this law applies to can be held liable for ignoring or knowingly accepting any form of discrimination or harassment against protected students. The law also extends to not just physical harassment or assault but also non-physical discrimination and harassment.

And because many LGBTQ students feel uncomfortable making complaints under this law directly to a college, there are ways to report a complaint directly to the Department of Education.

But there is one caveat with this law.

Religious institutions, including religious colleges, can claim certain exemptions under it. So, if you are thinking about attending religious colleges or universities, then take a careful look at whether they fully abide by this law and support LGBTQ organizations.

STATE LAWS

There are too many individual state laws to list here, and some states are lightyears ahead of others when it comes to creating legislation that protects people of any sexual orientation and gender.

But I do want to highlight one piece of legislation known as California’s Equity in Higher Education Act. [4]Under this legislation, postsecondary education providers have to provide assurances so that protected individuals don’t suffer discrimination or harassment.

This is applicable to any college that accepts students who receive state aid or where the college itself received aid.

Take Steps to Ensure a Safe College Experience

Stepping into college life doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think.

Yes, we are far from living in a society where LGBTQ students face the same issues of entering a new chapter in life as straight and non-transgender individuals encounter.

But the number and power of LGBTQ college student groups, legal organizations, and college rules have started to tip in favor of LGBTQ students.

If you follow the steps and recommendations above, you should find a safe environment where you can thrive as a student and human being.