College is all about finding your true self, and doing so in a safe and accepting environment is super important. Penn State has a variety of resources available for the LGBTQ+ community that allow students to connect with others and fully embrace who they want to be. However, sometimes students might not know exactly where to find these resources.
Read on for the top 10 LGBTQ+ resources at Penn State!
1. Ally House
Everyone wants to live in an environment where they feel safe, secure and comfortable. The Ally House is a gender-inclusive housing option for students located in the West Housing area of campus. Gender-inclusive housing means that transgender or gender non-conforming students have the option to select a room assignment that meets their needs and can also request a roommate of any gender. Ally House has a variety of room styles to choose from, some offering private bathrooms, and some offering gender-neutral bathrooms. If you need gender-inclusive housing, just put down Ally House on your HFS Contract under the “Special Living Option.”
Drag culture is incredibly unique, amazing and beautiful. Opulence brings this truly one-of-a-kind experience to Penn State. Opulence is Penn State’s Premiere Drag Ambassador club. They were founded in 2017, with the mission of offering and creating a judge-free and open space for aspiring drag queens, drag kings and drag enthusiasts. Aside from regular club meetings, Opulence also hosts documentary viewing parties and drag shows. “After going to the first meeting where some of the executive members were in full drag, I knew I wanted to join for sure,” said Penn State junior Colton Lucas. Drag allows people to express themselves creatively and Opulence lets students at Penn State to do just that, while also advocating for the visibility of nonbinary students.
3. Queer and Transgender People of Color (QTPOC)
QTPOC celebrates queer and trans people of color at a school that is predominantly white. The mission of QTPOC is to celebrate cultural diversity while also spreading awareness and education about the LGBTQ+ community. “I joined QTPOC as a freshman because I did not understand my identity. I had just come out. I wanted to learn and be immersed in a community of people like me. I went to my first meeting, and I have never stopped going since then,” said Celeste Good, treasurer and former president of QTPOC and a senior at Penn State. (pictured above) Before COVID-19 slowed down their events, QTPOC held weekly meetings and even socials on the weekends for members to get to know each other better.
4. Campus Pride Month
In 2018, State College decided to start painting crosswalks throughout downtown a rainbow pattern. Penn State also holds annual events during Campus Pride Month. However, for the first time ever the town decided to hold a Pride Parade in June. Even with the limitations set as a result of COVID-19, people were still able to show their support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. “I think it was really nice that there was going to be a pride parade even though COVID kind of ruined it,” said Penn State junior Madison Disidori. “The student orgs still did a great job of making pride fun and inclusive.” To compromise, an LGBTQ+ film festival was held through Vimeo and Zoom. Continuing the virtual festivities, Camp Crystal Queer held a virtual campfire on Instagram Live. Camp Crystal Queer is what the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity put together as a part of a wider and ongoing effort to support students during this pandemic. Campers also wore their favorite pride shirts, and virtually celebrated Pride Month in the comfort of their own homes. COVID-19 couldn’t stop the pride and positivity during this special month.
5. Out In Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
The PSU chapter of oSTEM was founded in 2009 by alumnus Eric Partridge. The club has since then been awarded at the organization’s fifth annual organization for having the highest member attendance out of all 63 colleges that attended. The organization brings together students and professionals to work, study and connect in a safe and accepting environment. This is also an amazing opportunity for building relationships amongst LGBTQ+ faculty and students. This organization aims to help the development of LGBTQ+ students in STEM while also providing a tolerant, accepting, and safe space.
6. The University Health Services and LIONS
Open to all students, the UHS offers health care such as STD and STI detection and treatment, HIV preventative treatment and routine checkups. The UHS also offers specific transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender non-binary care. The UHS has a specific team known as the LIONS (Living In Our Natural Selves). The team provides care to transgender and non-binary individuals. The team not only has physicians and nurses but also counselors and psychologists for you to talk to.
7. Prism Benefiting THON
THON is arguably the most exciting event for all students at Penn State. For those of you who may not know exactly what THON is, it’s the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world. The dance marathon lasts 46 hours and raises money for the Four Diamonds fund that helps children with cancer. Various special interest organizations go out, raise money and attend THON each year. Prism is an inclusive THON organization that was created for students of the LGBTQ+ community. Members have said that it’s a great way for people to come together for a good cause.
8. Mentor Programs
Having someone to talk to and open up to is always super important. Surrounding yourself with people who can relate to whatever you’re going through can create lifelong friendships and bonds. Penn State offers a mentor program that pairs an LGBTQ+ graduate student with another LGBTQ+ student. This graduate student offers mentees emotional support and guidance through sexual and gender identity development, setting goals and choosing career paths.
9. Discussion Groups
Discussion groups at Penn State provide a safer space for students to really express their thoughts, experiences and opinions in the LGBTQ+ community. Each group has its own unique discussion topic that helps students to learn from each other and also develop their own identities. Topics that have been previously discussed include Aces (asexual and aromantic), Beyond the Binary (gender identity) and WLW (women loving women). These discussion groups also gives students a chance to truly feel safe as they are considered “closed groups.” This means that they are identity-alike spaces where you must identify with the group topic to attend the discussion.
10. Penn State Student Lion Pride Roundtable for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (PRIDE)
Originally called LGBTQA Student Roundtable, this organization strives to serve as the umbrella organization for the LGBTQ+ community. Their mission is to provide a safe space for the discussion of matters relevant to gender and sexual minority students. The organization holds many informational discussions as well as working with the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity to put on and sponsor events aimed at the queer student population. “I wanted to find a queer community at Penn State that I never had a chance to join in high school. When I went to my first involvement fair, I found their booth decked out with rainbow stuff and they were so welcoming, and I knew immediately that I wanted to join,” said Lucas, current president of Penn State Student Lion PRIDE. This amazing organization provides a great opportunity for students to find themselves in an inclusive and welcoming environment.