elisa pintor, Jeffrey Waldo, David Griffith, Project Assistants
In response to the recent tragedies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth across the country, the staff of the UNM Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Resource Center would like to extend our deep sympathy to these families who have lost their loved ones to suicide. Over the past few weeks, as many as five gay youth have taken their own lives as a direct or indirect response to anti-LGBT bullying. These tragedies demonstrate the terrible consequences that can result from having to endure bullying and harassment over one's gender identity or sexual orientation. We hope these tragedies can open a dialogue that will help ensure that all members of our campus community feel respected, supported and safe.
A number of efforts are underway to address these suicides and the problems that result from anti-LGBT bullying. The LGBTQ Resource Center, Office for Equity and Inclusion, Women's Resource Center, Raza Graduate Student Association and many other groups host a Community Forum on Anti-LGBT Bullying Prevention on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 4-5:30 p.m. in Student Union Building ballroom C. This forum provides an opportunity to discuss issues of harassment and bullying and to learn about resources available both on campus and in Albuquerque.
Staff at the LGBTQ Resource Center are also available to hear concerns from students, faculty and staff surrounding these issues and can make referrals as necessary. The LGBTQ Resource Center is open weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Student Health and Counseling offers students up to two free meetings with a certified counselor. SHAC also has a mental health assessment to help students decide if they need assistance. AGORA Crisis Center is a free 24-hour phone service where callers can reach someone who is there to listen. Volunteers at AGORA are trained in diversity issues and suicide prevention.
UNM's Queer Straight Alliance is a student organization that meets once a week. This group strives to create an accepting environment regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Women's Resource Center in Mesa Vista Hall also provides students with advocacy and support from trained staff who are sensitive to these issues. Other student support services such as El Centro de la Raza, African American Student Services, American Indian Student Services and the Accessibility Resource Center provide valuable support networks.
Creating an Inclusive Campus
Faculty and staff can help create an inclusive campus at UNM. First, it is important to remember that LGBTQ individuals are in your classes or in the student populations you serve. Using inclusive language and maintaining an awareness of LGBTQ issues helps create a more welcoming environment for these students. Additionally, standing up against homophobic jokes or remarks may help to reduce harassment.
At a university as big as UNM, it can sometimes be difficult for students to know that they do have allies who support them.
The LGBTQ Resource Center is putting together an "Out and Ally List," available on its web site. Participants take a pledge to stand up to heterosexism and homophobia and strive to create an inclusive environment for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. By pledging to serve as an ally to LGBTQ individuals at UNM, participating faculty and staff show LGBTQ students they have support in many departments across campus.
The LGBTQ Resource Center also offers a Safe Zone training to UNM departments. This training is an interactive workshop aimed at helping faculty and staff become knowledgeable and receptive to the LGBTQ community and its needs. This training can help make your office a safe and supportive environment for everyone who passes through.
Regardless of individual feelings about LGBT rights and lifestyles, we all have a responsibility to make sure that UNM is an environment in which students can succeed. To allow for student success, we must ensure that all students feel safe and respected as part of our campus community. By trying to be more aware of these issues and more inclusive of LGBTQ individuals, we can work to ensure that UNM will not suffer from the sort of tragedy that has occurred at other university campuses.
Contact the LGBTQ Resource Center at (505) 277-0834 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit lgbtqrc.unm.edu.