MSU LBGTRC: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Resource Center Flourishes at MSU

May 3, 2017
  • The Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Resource Center at MSU creates awareness about gender and sexuality related issues.
  • The center promotes personal, academic and professional successes and builds friendship and communities.
  • Although the center works most closely with the LBGT students, 85 percent of the contacts are heterosexual identified students, staff, and faculty. 

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Students at the Proud To Be Out@MSU Event. Photo Credit of MSU LBGTRC.

Students at the Proud To Be Out@MSU Event. Photo Credit of MSU LBGTRC.

Are you curious about gender and sexuality? Are you interested in discussing them and the strategies to break down stereotypes and increase the visibility of marginalized groups? Do you need a place to learn and talk about intersecting identities?

The Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Resource Center at Michigan State University is a great place to talk about these issues and as well as race and faith and all the other elements of identity that make each person unique.

Since the LBGT Resource Centers founding in 1994, MSU has been dedicating staff to help ensure the wellness and academic success of students with marginalized sexual and gender identities. The center has been working on a mission to create a protected place for homosexual, bisexual and transgender students, to help everyone to thrive in the diverse world, and to enhance the campus climate through educational programs and support services.

William F. Alexander III, a first-year master's student in MSU Student Affairs Administration program said that he didn’t have access to a similar resource center at his undergraduate university, and things were not as easy for him there as they are now.

“I’m a multiracial gay student, and the LBGTRC has provided me with the support that I have needed in finding community here at MSU,” said Alexander, of Detroit, Mich. “It has been a life-changing experience.

“The staff is very inspirational and supportive and I always have a great time here meeting and working with other students. The center has also helped me emotionally because if I ever feel unsafe or need to talk to someone, I can come here to talk through my issues.”

Support for the LBGT community generally is strong at MSU, thanks to the center, the staff, and the backing from university leadership, alumni and donors, according to Deanna Hurlbert, director of the LBGT Resource Center.

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LBGT Resource Center Assistant Director Alex C. Lange (left) and Program Coordinator Loren Clupny at the center. Photo courtesy of MSU LBGTRC.

LBGT Resource Center Assistant Director Alex C. Lange (left) and Program Coordinator Loren Clupny at the center. Photo courtesy of MSU LBGTRC.

Hurlbert said she sees the center as safety net and an emotional support system for LBGT students. It also has an educational purpose regarding sexuality and gender identity for anyone who is inquisitive.

“Though we most closely work with the LBGT students, 85 percent of our touch points are heterosexual identified students, staff, and faculty,” Hurlbert said. “We have web courses and multiple events throughout the year to help people in gaining knowledge about the LBGT people and gender and sexuality in general. And we also have a strong social media presence to make people more connected.

“The center has been playing a very important role towards making the university an equality-based campus, and a welcoming place to assure that students get ready to live better and lead better.”

The center offers a two-part training, called QuILL: Queer Inclusive Learning and Leadership. Part one of QuILL is a web course offered through the Office of Regulatory Affairs, and part two is an in-person workshop with LBGTRC staff members or the MSU Human Resources Department about action plans to create an inclusive place for all. Upon completing both parts, participants receive a certificate of completion that stays valid for four years.

“The QuILL course is designed to teach people about the foundational knowledge and different types of gender and sexuality,” said Hurlbert. “Seven-hundred people have completed the web course, and more than 300 of them have completed the full workshop so far.”

In addition to supporting the LBGT Resource Center, the university also offers academic courses like a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Sexuality Studies, through the Center for Gender in Global Context.

The resource center also organizes an engaging weekly program in both fall and spring semester for first-year MSU students, both freshmen and transfers, to inform them topics such as student resources and organizations, expectations for peers and developing personal action plans to succeed in and after college. The goals of the program, called New2U are to enhance the experience of first-year LBGTQ students at the university through friendship building, interactive learning, and goal-setting strategies, according to Hurlbert.

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First Year Students at 2014 New2U. Photo Courtesy of MSU LBGTRC

First Year Students at 2014 New2U. Photo Courtesy of MSU LBGTRC

The center also provides counsel for students. A trained student support specialist is on staff to help student with personal and professional development issues that are critical to their success and wellness. Hurlbert stated that in recent months, the number of students seeking consultation has increased drastically.

“Support for academic and professional success also is a hallmark of MSU’s LBGTRC,” Hurlbert said.

MSU offers various scholarships to LBGTQ students, including The Pride Scholarship and The Stephen P. Pougnet and Christopher J. Green Endowed Scholarship, which are offered through the Division of Student Affairs and Services. The center also has a library that offers a variety of reading materials, such as novels, non-fiction, reference books, and works related to the LBGTQ community.

When this reporter visited the center, it was clear that it is a warm, welcoming and playful place offering conversation, games, coloring, and quiet study space as well as coffee and tea. Hurlbert noted that it offers game nights, study nights, coloring events and so on—and that everyone is welcome, regardless of their gender and sexuality. She said that the center also works to raise mental and physical health awareness, increase collaboration with faculty, staff and alumni, and build mutual understanding and friendship in the community and beyond.

Hurlbert stated that the vision of the center is to make MSU a global and premiere destination for LBGT students from all around the world.

“We want to help the students to attain scholastic and occupational success and build leadership qualities, as well as develop a secure and improved environment for racial, sexual and gender minority students,” Hurlbert said.

To learn more about the LBGT Resource Center, click here to visit the website. 

Graduates and Recipients of 2017 Lavender Award. Photo Courtesy of Noushin Mahmood.

Graduates and Recipients of 2017 Lavender Award. Photo Courtesy of Noushin Mahmood.

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