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As student affairs professionals, we continue to allow the burden “of oppression [to fall] on the oppressed” (Edwards as cited in Jordan, 2012, p. 68) and we do this by allowing the responsibility of creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ students to fall on the few LGBTQ+ identified professionals and/or student organizations on our campuses. So, how do we move beyond this into a plan of action that creates inclusive spaces for our LGBTQ+ students?
First, institutions must be willing to assess their current services to see where they are and where they need to be in order to accomplish this task. Can your institution answer the following questions: (1) What are the services you provide? (2) Are the services you provide creating positive experiences for LGBTQ+ students and can it be proven through data? (3) Are you retaining your LGBTQ+ students (specifically T* students)? (4) What services are you providing that create inclusive spaces for students who identify as Trans* on campus (i.e., enrollment services with regard to chosen name and pronouns, health services, gender inclusive housing, gender inclusive bathrooms, gender inclusive locker rooms, athletic policies etc.)?
Second, we must understand who is responsible for creating these safe spaces? Most often the answer to this question is a list of one or two individuals in an office responsible for creating these safe spaces for ALL marginalized students. Our institutions must do a better job in providing adequate staff and financial support to the members of the institution who are tasked with these responsibilities. How can your institution ensure that the responsibility falls on ALL offices rather than one or two individuals?
Third, do the services we provide use an intersectional approach when supporting students? Often, LGBTQ+ student organizations and centers on campuses approach services from a white, cisgender approach. How is your institution ensuring that they are keeping the experiences of ALL students in mind when providing services?
The three areas above can be used as a starting point for your institution. If you read this post and have more questions than answers then it may be time for your institution to sit down and create a strategic plan that specifically highlights some of the above questions. Furthermore, if you would like some assistance in finding out the best practices for these questions then feel free to join me during my online workshop (“Creating Inclusive Spaces for LGBTQ+ Students”) that is occurring on November 17 at 2pm (EST). Registration for this online workshop will open on September 17 at 9am (EST) and only has enough seats for 200 participants! If you are interested in joining me for the online workshop, please feel free to subscribe to the below mailing list. Subscribers will receive a 20% off coupon and will receive an email to remind them to register on September 17.
Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact me via the contact me page.