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Texas A&M LGBTQ+ Pride Center Fosters Inclusion on Campus

Published on 6/28/2022 8:45:00 AM
By Gwen Howerton, Office of Undergraduate Studies at Texas A&M University

College students who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community often face unique obstacles that can affect their mental health and academic performance. To help combat these challenges and create a more inclusive learning environment, the LGBTQ+ Pride Center at Texas A&M University provides resources for LGBTQ+ students and allies.
 
LGBTQ+ Pride Center Coordinator Frances Jackson presents educational programs to campus faculty and staff to spread awareness of issues LGBTQ+ students face. The presentations discuss a variety of topics including pronouns and gender identity, LGBTQ+ history, healthcare statistics and current events.
 
“There are a variety of educational things that we come into these big classrooms with, where folks may not always be aware,” Jackson said. “These are one of the big ways that we push for LGBTQ+ acceptance and creating a safer, more welcoming campus.”
 
In addition to educational presentations, the LGBTQ+ Pride Center also offers programs such as Pride Mentors and Pride Late Night. These resources allow students to meet other members of the LGBTQ+ community with similar academic and personal interests.
 
“A lot of our events connect LGBTQ+ friendly mentors with students,” LGBTQ+ Pride Center Graduate Assistant Karla Alvarez said. “With Pride Late Night, students have a chance to connect with folks and develop a sense of belonging.”
 
Two other events the LGBTQ+ Pride Center offers are the Rainbow Resource Fair and the Lavender Graduation Celebration. The Rainbow Resource Fair connects students with supportive organizations, both on and off-campus, and the Lavender Graduation Celebration is a ceremony that celebrates the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ students and allies.
 
“It's not just about classes­­—it's about making sure that they're supported in a variety of ways,” Jackson said. “Lavender Graduation does a great job of highlighting all of the accomplishments of queer students. We can say we're supporting them, and that gets them to these classroom successes, these industry successes.”
 
Providing a Support System
General Studies major Sam Vinal ’24 is one student who has experienced the benefits of using the LGBTQ+ Pride Center’s resources firsthand. After graduating high school in 2020, Vinal’s first college classes were mainly online, making it difficult for them to find a community on campus.
 
“I missed out on a lot of A&M things,” Vinal said. “I didn't have Howdy Week, which led to me not being able to connect with a lot of people at A&M. My first three semesters were very hard until I found the Pride Center.”
 
Vinal first learned about the LGBTQ+ Pride Center after getting an email about the center’s Rainbow Relaxin’ Days, a program designed to help students de-stress during finals. Following the event, they got more involved and found friends, a support system and a therapist with the help of the center.
 
“It’s super helpful,” Vinal said. “I will offhandedly mention something that I've been struggling with, and they will have a list of things that they know A&M offers, related to the Pride Center or not. It's just a community of people that are super, super accepting, and I've learned a lot through it.”
 
Jackson hopes to continue to connect other students to the LGBTQ+ Pride Center by sharing information about the center’s events and resources on social media, working with students one-on-one and being a supportive adult in the students’ lives.
 
“I'm a member of the administration, and that can be a touchpoint for students getting help with things,” Jackson said. “By being able to step in and be that resource for many folks, we hope to see them complete their degrees and other stuff like that.”
 
The LGBTQ+ Pride Center is located on the 2nd floor of the Student Services Building. Students, faculty and staff interested in using the center’s resources or getting involved can find a list of programs, events and more on the center’s website and Instagram.
 
“By being able to step in and be that resource for many folks, we hope to see them complete their degrees,” Jackson said. “[LGBTQ+ students] may have a harder path to walk­—we are taking a bit of that burden and making life a little bit easier. It’s about making sure students feel supported and accepted.”

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Media contact: Anna Transue, transuea@tamu.edu