LGBTQ students often feel isolated on campus, remaining unaware of the resources available to them. This sense of isolation damages these students in ways straight students don’t understand. Some students go their entire college career without stepping foot inside their universities gender and sexuality center. The responsibility falls into the hands of the university to make sure students aware of all resources. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center (GSCC) provides students with education, outreach, advocacy and resources to improve campus climate and their daily intersectional experiences. The center envisions a university that actively addresses oppression in all its forms. Read on to find out the best resources on the UW-Madison campus.
Any Sense of Isolation or Vulnerability Can Be Cured With The Top 10 LGBTQ Resources That UW-Madison Has to Offer
1. The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center
All students can walk in and hangout during the school year, as well as during the summer. They can access the GSCC in room 123 of the Red Gym from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Upon walking in, the staff members will greet you with a smile and will genuinely want to hear about your day. Inside the center, students can use computers and printers for free, eat snacks, sit on comfy couches and access loads of online pamphlets for LGBTQ students and allies alike. The center envisions a university that actively addresses oppression in all its forms.
2. Coming out
One of the hardest battles for those in the LGBTQ community involves coming out to their loved ones. Everyone has a different coming out story, and they almost always have different outcomes. The GSCC provides a “coming out” resource for students who feel ready to make their sexuality known to the people in their life. This pamphlet prompts individuals to ask themselves a series of questions to evaluate their readiness. This resource helps people develop a plan of action, making this nerve-wracking conversation a whole lot easier and healthy. It helps provide accurate information regarding LGBTQ portrayal and history, as well as locates support groups because no one should ever feel alone. Remember that if you don’t choose to come out now—or ever—your identity and experiences exist with legitimacy and value.
3. Healthy relationships
Joys and arguments exist in every relationship. Relationships rarely occur in perfection but effective communication with your partner makes pursuit of your own little perfection that much easier. The GSCC offers a “healthy relationships” pamphlet that outlines the steps to improve any relationship. The first step involves making sure intent and impact act alongside each other. This means saying what you mean and making sure your partner follows and understands. To accomplish this, use “I” language. Speaking for yourself will help avoid mind reading. As much as we like to think we know what our partner thinks, we don’t always. It may help to reference specific examples of the issue at hand. Additionally, listen non-defensively, validate your partner and fight fair. Arguments happen but constructive conflict will build trust when handled the right way. You can find all of your relationships tips in the healthy relationships pamphlet at the GSCC.
4. Trans resources
The GSCC has tons of resources for trans individuals, as well as for their allies. They provide tips to better trans alliances through an online guide. The tips present a starting place to learn more about trans people, gender identities and expressions, and how to ally yourself with trans communities and activism. Some tips include never assuming someone‘s gender, even if they may look unconventionally male or female, not making assumptions about a trans person’s sexual orientation, not tolerating anti-trans remarks in public spaces, asking someone’s pronouns when you don’t know and listening to trans voices. Listen with an open mind to trans people and respect their identity. Thousands of people don’t feel like traditional gender pronouns (she/her, he/him) fit their gender identities. If you make a mistake and call someone by the wrong pronoun, you can make it up to them by modeling respectful pronoun use. A quick apology goes a long way.
5. Identities 101
The world of sexuality and the classifications of identity and expression evolve rapidly. The identities 101 pamphlet, designed to provide accurate information about bisexuality and asexuality, eases the conversation surrounding individuals who fall into these categories. Oftentimes, bisexual, asexual, or intersex individuals fall out of the narrative surrounding the LGBTQ community. The value placed on a sexual identity should not depend on its origin. Conversely to individuals attracted to people of either sex, some individuals don’t experience sexual attraction at all. Asexual individuals frequently get recognized as fake or illegitimate. The untold stories left out of classrooms, textbooks and sex education programs, make them feel alone, invisible and broken. Listen to your friends. Encourage your friends. Reading and talking about asexuality will make you a better partner and ally.
6. Acts in solidarity
For those reading, who do not consider themselves a part of the LGBTQ community, you play a huge role in the lives of those individuals. You can’t accomplish inclusion without the help of everyone. Acts in solidarity provides non-LGBTQ people the pamphlet with the resources they need to act as an ally—someone every member of the community needs. Being an ally means to interrupt oppressive behavior. To help, you can educate yourself, educate the oppressor, support others’ proactive responses and initiate a proactive response. Acts in solidarity also provides individuals with an online guide of gender pronouns to print and keep. Remember: knowledge indicates power.
7. Peer mentor program
The LGBTQ peer mentor program provides a space for students to connect with a knowledgeable peer about gender identity, sexual orientation, coming out and life at UW-Madison. Individuals can meet with a qualified mentor that focuses on the experiences and voice you already bring by virtue of becoming yourself. Mentors and mentees can meet based on their available meeting times. Meetings feel casual and extremely helpful. Your and your mentor can grab lunch, go to an event or simply chat on Facebook. The programs last however long they need to last, meaning the mentee gets to decide the length. Even if you don’t get much out of the program, at least you can make new friends.
8. Discussion groups
UW-Madison provides students the ability to join different discussion groups based on their situation. The groups, facilitated by student peers and university staff members, help students of all identities. The University offers nine different discussion groups you can join. At Rooted, LGBTQ people of color can freely communicate with one another. For example, Gender Explorers allows for individuals to explore concepts and constructs of gender in their own lives. Meanwhile, Rainbow Recovery covers topics related to substance use, sobriety and recovery-positive spaces. People who identify as bisexual, pansexual, fluid or similarly-identified can join Fluid Sexualities and discuss their unique way of life. In addition to these discussion groups, the GSCC offers five additional groups for students of all kinds. Discussion groups function as the perfect resource for students who want to meet others, share their feelings or be listened to.
9. Student Organizations
Getting involved will make accepting your identity even easier. By joining student organizations, students come together and find peace in relating to one another. The GSCC offers organizations in the fields of health, social life and professional life. Like the name suggests, health orgs focus on LGBTQ health and wellness from an intersectional perspective. Just as important, social orgs focus on making connections and getting involved. They make finding similar peers on and off campus a whole lot easier. The GSCC offers professional orgs that focus on LGBTQ inclusion, representation and issues in specific fields. Additionally, students can meet peers at The Pride Society and develop relationships with like-minded individuals at Out For Business. Joining a student organization will make your college experience better by networking with other queer business people. Just imagine the number of friends you’ll make and the many memories that you won’t forget.
The courses students at UW-Madison can take that directly relate to LGBTQ studies and research represent resources, too. Queer Emerging Leaders Program (QUELP) offers insight in exploring race, disability, class and other social dynamics through an LGBTQ lens. It focuses on developing leadership skills that will help you serve your communities. Similarly to how QUELP explores research through an LGBTQ lens, Queer Interpersonal Life Skills Lab (QUILL), explores queer identity and develops healthy relationship skills that will help you serve yourself, friends, partners and communities. These two courses can provide students with plenty of accurate information surrounding the LGBTQ community. Devoting a semester to studying a unique group of individuals can make understanding their way of life a lot easier. Making connections with LGBTQ people starts with learning about their lives, their history and their triumphs.