1. Devon Wolfe, Seattle University
"My school, Seattle University, does a great job of being inclusive and making LGBTQIA+ feel welcome. The Gender Justice Center is super welcoming, and gay people of all backgrounds are open about their experiences and are very eager to share their stories. Everyone on campus is very well educated about sharing pronouns, etc. I immediately felt comfortable upon entering my campus, unlike anything I ever experienced in my hometown."
2. Megan Ohnmacht, Muhlenberg College
"I think Muhlenberg is pretty good about inclusivity in general, but as with anywhere right now, there's still work to be done. We need more gender inclusive bathrooms, in not only the academic buildings, but there should also be some in the art and theatre buildings, and in the library as well. Gender inclusive bathrooms are necessary for trans and nonbinary students, especially if they do not feel safe or comfortable using the bathroom that matches with their gender identity. That's my biggest issue. Other than that, most people are pretty open and inclusive. If they're not, it's not really up to the school or the environment to fix that, it's up to the person themselves."
3. Anonymous, Muhlenberg College
"I think that Muhlenberg does a fine job in including white queer folks into its culture and its campus. As long as nothing too drastic happens, the administration seems satisfied. I think that the lack of accessibility to gender neutral bathrooms is harmful to the feeling of inclusivity on that front. I think that there is a specific issue with the queer community and by way of the cisgender/heterosexual community that there is no acknowledgement, support or celebration around queer communities of color that gives rise to the exclusionary, euro-centric queer clubs and communities on campus. These organizations structurally and culturally shut out queer people of color, so much so that another student and I started a QPOC affinity group here on campus. I only speak from my experience and what I have seen."
4. Landon Archuleta, University of Northern Colorado
"Despite the conservative climate of Greeley, Colorado, The University of Northern Colorado promotes the inclusivity of all people. This semester they have installed gender inclusive bathrooms around campus that are easily accessible. Some of the more conservative students think they're silly, but I think they're really important. I feel safe here, because the university really cares. All student's safety matters here."
5. Jamie Mai, Boston University
"I identify as trans masculine, and BU itself has been really supportive. We have TLC (trans listening circle), and a center for gender and sexuality. We have school dances for LGBTQA+ students, and everybody that I have met so far has been accepting of my gender identity. The school even allows students to change their name and gender marker on their student IDs if need be! My experience at the university has been safe, overall. Things still do get uncomfortable, though because there aren't that many gender inclusive restrooms. I can think of two on campus right now, and for a school of 35,000 people, that is kind of ridiculous. Also, housing is a mess. I still got put on an all girls floor even though I specifically asked not to be, and gender neutral housing isn't an option until junior year."
6. Rain Young, University of Colorado
"Diversity is a big focus here at CU Boulder, but they fall flat on every front except LGBTQA+ rights. There is a very strict acceptance policy, and it is required of everyone to use the preferred pronouns of their peers or students. This leads to a safe and flourishing LGBT community on campus. The LGBTQA+ places on campus are inclusive of all genders and sexualities, and do a great job to help inform those who aren't a part of the LGBTQA+ community."
7. Brenna Cole-Hassel, Emily Griffith Technical College
"I think my school didn’t do a great job, not that they did anything negative but except for a few equality symbols here and there it wasn’t something that was really talked about. However, I did go to a technical college so each department was quite a bit separated and there wasn’t a chance for us to all interact with each other. Even in my class, though it wasn’t really talked about. Everything was super heteronormative, so my peers never really even seemed to think that someone around them could actually be a member of the LGBTQA+ community. I think it would be nice if in general, but especially in class or around campus, that people didn’t just make the assumption that everyone there is straight, unless that person specifically says they are, because it makes people who aren’t straight feel isolated & even more nervous to actually come out in some cases."
8. Anonymous, Muhlenberg College
"I personally feel that some of the spaces are a little hard to access. Every time I’ve wanted to go to a SQuAd (Muhlenberg's official Gender and Sexualities Alliance) meeting either I was over scheduled or I couldn’t find where it was. Which in part is my fault, but I feel like I haven’t been able to participate as much as an LGBTQA+ student on campus as I would like. I don’t feel in danger because of my sexuality, mainly because with how rarely there are queer characters in the media, let alone those who identify as 'panromantic demisexual.' I think one thing that is not spoken of anywhere is the fact that there is a distinction between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. Also there’s so many undereducated people who think gender and sexuality are one in the same. I think it’s important to show the distinctions between sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and gender identity."
9. Anonymous, Muhlenberg College
"For me personally, I think Muhlenberg does a fine job with making LGBTQA+ students feel safe, but I think a lot of my own experiences comes from the fact that I’m not widely out and identify as an asexual heteroromantic. In general, I think the inclusion of clubs like SQUAD is really helpful in providing a space for LGBTQA+ students. It allows these students to come together and feel safe. The fact that such a club is offered spoke to me about the commitment Muhlenberg has to providing safe spaces for LGBTQA+ students. I also feel like the straight and cisgender students at Muhlenberg are, in general, accepting of their fellow students who are a part of the LGBTQA+ community. I think that in terms of making the campus more inclusive, programs during orientation or other such programs could include information for people of the community and how to stay safe just in general and during sex. As an asexual, I personally wish that there was more just general information about the fact that ace people exist and that not every college student is going to have sex. It sometimes feel like there is a lot of pressure from the general college community to have sex or hook up with people, which can make me feel uncomfortable as an asexual."
10. Anonymous, Muhlenberg College
"I do feel safe and relatively included here. However I’m both gay and gender queer, gender fluid to be more specific, so I feel accepted and included when it comes to my sexuality but not necessarily my gender. There are very few gender neutral bathrooms on campus and there are days where I feel very uncomfortable using the women’s restroom. Also when it comes to theatre most, if not all, of the character descriptions say that they are looking for someone who identifies as a woman for certain roles which doesn’t feel very inclusive to people like me. It’s not like I can audition for male roles because I appear to be female. I almost feel as if gender queer people are forgotten at this school. I feel that this school can improve with better gender neutral language in general."
11. Finn Wicker, Community College of Denver
"I’m currently not in school but I spent a semester at CCD. There’s one LGBTQA+ space for all three schools on campus and they do a really good job of letting people know they’re there for anyone and everyone. The only time I went inside I felt really welcomed and safe. It’s in a back corner of the main campus building, and I really liked that it was in the back because while I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of, I felt like I wasn’t being judged for going in since it was out of the way. I kind of wished they had a smaller space at the other end of campus but really I think it’s a very inclusive and helpful place."
While student members of the LGBTQA+ community feel generally accepted and embraced by their campus communities, there still is quite a bit of work to be done. Merely accepting members of the queer community is not enough. Colleges need to truly listen to the concerns of its students, and help in whatever ways they can to ensure the safety and security of every student. In addition, queer communities on college campuses must make sure to include everybody who wishes to join, no matter their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion etc. These communities must embrace and celebrate all aspects of queer culture, not just RuPaul's Drag Race and mainstream pride parades. We can all do better to make campuses more welcoming for all.
*Responses have been edited for length or clarity
Leading Image Credit: Charlotte Butcher via Unsplash