Several resources exist for students who either support or form part of the LGBTQ+ community. At the University of Florida (UF), students can participate in events, join campus organizations and enroll in courses that allow them to embrace their identity. As a minority, students from the LGBTQ+ community may feel socially isolated. Thankfully, students can use the resources on-campus to their benefit. With advocacy programs and frequent events, LGBTQ+ students can find support within the Gator Nation. Whether one identifies with the LGBTQ+ community or as an ally, resources provided by UF can benefit many students.
Keep reading for the top LGBTQ+ resources at UF.
1. Pride Student Union
As a member of the Pride Student Union (PSU), UF students engage with others from the LGBTQ+ community in a safe space. Students become a part of a family that serves as a platform for education and enlightenment through general body meetings as well as additional events, such as social gatherings. Also, PSU promotes leadership and networking through various tasks and staffing.
Students can apply to different e-board and other leadership positions. For example, prospects could apply for external or internal vice president or cabinet positions like an administrative director within the Administrative Cabinet or a graphic designer in the External cabinet. PSU is a space where students can find a safe and inclusive space that provides education, community and love,” PSU president and rising junior Alex Hernandez said. “It’s a place where you can find your family here at UF, and I’ve met some of my closest loved ones through this organization.” PSU strives for its members to build vital friendships and connections while establishing a home away from home.
2. Participate in Pride Awareness Month
Students can participate in Pride Awareness Month (PAM) at UF to celebrate their part in the LGBTQ community or support members in a positive way. UF houses one of the largest student-run LGBTQ+ series in the U.S. With that, PAM aims to ensure that students, no matter what sexual orientation, feel welcomed and embraced at UF and in the community in general. Pride Awareness Month runs from March 23 to April 16 annually.
Although UF’s administration canceled this year’s events due to COVID-19, students and others can join together at future events from PAM such as drag shows. “My favorite [event at UF] is Pride Awareness Month,” president of the Queer Cultivation Group and rising junior Jeffrey Fondeur said. “I think that PAM’s Drag Show is an event that everyone at UF should experience at least once!” Last year, students got to enjoy these drag shows held at the Phillips Center. Students can make sure to enjoy more events this upcoming school year. Pride Awareness Month makes students mark their calendars for the memorable events they will partake in. Even though we celebrate Pride all year long, PAM really brings out the fun!
3. Queer Trans People of Color
Queer Trans People of Color (QTPO) dedicates its resources for queer and/or trans people of color within the predominantly white UF population. Students of color already serve as a small fraction of the community, and this fraction gets significantly smaller with those of color in the LGBTQ+ community. QTPO vows to serve as a safe space for their targeted individuals: Black, indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Desi diasporas in Gainesville. These communities can participate in this safe space by engaging in discussions through the general body meetings and feeling like they have a home away from home. Some of these discussions may revolve around cultural appropriation and microaggressions, but they usually touch upon current day issues within the community.
4. Participate in Discussion Groups
LGBTQ+ students at UF can engage in discussion groups catered specifically to the LGBTQ+ community. Students can choose from various discussion groups like New to UF, Trans at UF, Queer Women Empowerment Network (QWEN), Queer Asian Pacific Islander DESI (QAPID) and Hispanic and Latinx Queers (HLXQ). The New to UF discussion group drives conversations for individuals to discuss questions about their new identity and/or new place at UF.
Students outside of the LGBTQ+ community can partake in these discussions as well to better understand the community’s struggles and ways they can support. Although the QAPID discussion group stopped its meetings due to COVID-19, students can find additional updates through PSU’s Facebook group. Besides covering social distancing advice for the current pandemic, students can generally find helpful information like upcoming meeting dates and events. The other groups provide encouraging conversations that explore one’s sexual and gender orientation with ethnicity or nationality.
5. Kognito: A Course to Support LGBTQ+ Students
Kognito serves as an online stimulation course partnered with UF’s Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC). Faculty and staff support LGBTQ+ students by hosting a 30-minute training that allows users to aid LGBTQ+ students with both discussions and identifications of distress. Students can also participate in the online course by identifying peers, from the LGBTQ+ community or others in general, who demonstrate signs of psychological distress. With this, students can learn how to identify signs of stress, how to talk about these signs of stress and how to vocalize concerns when these signs make an appearance. Users can learn how to uphold classroom discussions in situations where discriminatory language took place. The Kognito course is almost like a hidden mine for supporters of the LGBTQ community who want to contribute to a safer space at UF.
6. UF Counseling and Wellness Center
The CWC at UF provides both individual and group counseling for LGBTQ+ students. The CWC also provides referrals to appropriate providers or other services. These services can include but are not limited to the Student Health Care Center, Discussion Groups, and more. The CWC aims to serve every student regardless of sexual orientation, gender and other discriminatory factors. Not only does the CWC aim to respect students regardless of these factors, but it also provides resources, like counseling as mentioned, for specific groups like the LGBTQ+ community. The CWC provides both group and individual therapy available where the counselor will help you select sessions based on your scheduling and what sessions would serve as most necessary for how you feel. Whether or not you attend sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis is based on individualistic preference and circumstances. Students can find the CWC at Peabody Hall or Radio Road.
7. UF Student Health Care Center
Students should not forget the Student Health Care Center. It’s not just for doctor appointments. Trans students may specifically receive treatment for hormone therapy or referrals from the UF Student Health Care Center. When students want to make an appointment, they should note they currently seek transgender care so the appropriate staff can refer to targeted resources—This could include hormone therapy. Upon reaching the Student Health Care Center, found on Fletcher Drive next to Moe’s Southwest Grill and the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, trans students will head to the reception desk and request trans-specific care as they would from a phone call. Then, the selected and appropriate personnel will help the students with a check-up, health concern, and more like referrals. Students should make sure to use the Student Health care center in any beneficial way possible.
8. UF Health Youth Gender Program
Looking for support as a trans or gender-nonconforming student? The UF Health Youth Gender Program works on behalf of these students and their families. The program encourages both the patient and his or her family to educate, support and interact whether they explore the topic of gender identity development or discuss the next steps in therapy. This program also provides experts who consult and assess for hormone therapy. Patients or their families can reach the Health Youth Gender Program at UF by faxing, calling their phone number or visiting the Pediatric Endocrinology website. Students or their loved ones can reach the Youth Gender Program by clicking here or setting up an appointment at 352-265-7337. They can also email the program at [email protected].
9. LGBTQ+ Affairs
LGTBQ+ Affairs at UF serve as an umbrella to additional resources such as the discussion groups mentioned previously. LGBTQ+ Affairs aim to support programs and educate LGBTQ+ students on policies, events or other resources that benefit them. For example, the organization set forth a list of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus, making it easier for trans or gender non-conforming students to find bathrooms. With their 2016 addition of “the rainbow suite,” LGBTQ+ affairs at UF have continued to support students on campus in need of acceptance on campus. The help they give the LGBTQ+ community on campus is endless. “We have a clothing donation closet for queer students who may be transitioning or struggling to find clothing the fits their personal identity,” said Hannah Shareen, University of Florida junior and LGBTQ+ Affairs ambassador. Students can also head to the LGBTQ+ Affairs Facebook page for information about events such as Movie Monday, playlists and more to provide an online engaging community for its members on a daily basis. “UF LGBTQ Affairs is continuously working to foster a more and more accepting and welcoming community at the University of Florida for existing and incoming LGBTQ students,” Shareen said. Students can find playlists on the LGBTQ+ Affairs’ Instagram page. Thankfully, LGBTQ+ provides so many essential and fun resources for students to take advantage of.
10. Queer Cultivation Program
The Queer Cultivation Program (QCP) aids LGBTQ+ students of both UF and Santa Fe College. QCP cultivates relationships with students through mentorship with under and upperclassmen. With QCP, members can also enjoy partaking in social events like game nights and costume parties that occur almost every week. “As the president, it is my duty to make sure we provide a judgment-free space where everyone feels welcome to come,” Fondreur said. “I genuinely love the executive boards I’ve worked with [PSU and QCP], and I’m incredibly grateful for the personal relationships I’ve gotten through both organizations.” For a safe and supportive organization in the Gainesville area, check out QCP.
Resources for LGBTQ+ students at the University of Florida need to be highlighted year-round, not just during the month of June. Most of these resources are available remotely for use to continue during the pandemic. Resources cater to specific groups within the LGBTQ+ community as well, so LGBTQ+ students of color or trans students can enjoy programs or receive help specifically for them. Others should do their part to celebrate and support LGBTQ+ students by sharing these resources.