Last week was National Coming Out Week, meant to encourage dialogue and events that show support for the LGBTQ community. While society has generally become more accepting for those who do not identify as straight, it can still prove challenging for young adults to accept their sexuality.
According to Census Bureau data from 2015-2016, New Jersey has the tenth largest LGBTQ population of the 50 states. While this significant percentage doesn’t automatically correlate with acceptance, the Garden State does have resources available for the community.
Let’s look at Rowan as an example.
The Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution built a wide network of supportive events, most of which fall under the umbrella of the LGBTQIA+ Center. The existence of these two offices alone shows strides toward fostering inclusivity.
Last week, the offices held a variety of events to celebrate National Coming Out Week. The centerpiece celebration was NCOW Fest, held on the Student Center patio. The event promoted Rowan’s various LGBTQ organizations and resources in a prominent place on campus, helping bring these facets of campus support further into the light. Students headed to class were able to stop by the various tables and receive information about services offered.
A bus trip to Philadelphia to celebrate the city’s annual OutFest was also provided to students.
National Coming Out Week isn’t the only designated time-frame for inclusivity. Transgender Awareness Week will take place next month, from Nov. 12 to Nov. 16. The main event of this week is Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil. Here, community members come together to honor transgender individuals who died at as a result of violence.
The Out and Ally Network brings together faculty, staff and students for community-building and awareness-raising discussions. Those who wish to provide support as allies to the LGBTQ community are encouraged to attend these network sessions.
The Queer Collective at SJICR provides a similar system, partnering with Counseling and Psychological Services for more targeted support.
Rowan also has several student-led organizations that add to the growing campus community of LGBTQ resources. Queering and Multicultural Inclusion (formerly Queer People of Color) provides an inter-sectional dialogue series. Prism aims to raise awareness about LGBTQ issues on campus. oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) brings together STEM majors who identify as non-straight. True Colors promotes self care, self acceptance and self expression.
Initiatives like these have brought Rowan national recognition. Over the summer, Affordable Colleges Online listed Rowan as the fortieth most LGBTQ-friendly college for 2018-19.
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