A university is about providing a platform for curious people to explore the world and individuals around them. It’s impossible to accomplish this if students do not feel comfortable or safe in their environments; and secondly, if students and professors are unable to have civilized discussions about the LGBTQA community, how the world currently perceives them, and how it affects their quality of life. It’s important that we all be respectful of those around us, ask questions to educate ourselves, and protect those who need it. In order to do this, everyone needs to work together to encourage a safe and welcoming environment for our LGBTQA Panthers.
Professors, for example, have the power to promote a safe environment even before the first day of class by requesting that students email them their given name, their preferred name and their preferred pronoun before the semester starts. Another alternative is for professors to pass around a piece of paper on the first day of class for students to write their given name, along with their preferred name and pronoun before calling attendance. But, the pressure to make a safe environment for members of the LGBTQA community doesn’t just fall on the faculty and administration. Students need to make an effort as well.
For LGBTQ students, if you wish to be addressed by a name other than your birth name or by a different pronoun, speak with the professor privately before or after class. For students who don’t directly identify with the LGBTQA community, don’t be afraid to stand up for members of the community who are put in situations that are uncomfortable, offensive or threatening and make an effort to use the preferred pronouns and names of your classmates and professors. At the end of the day, it’s important that we’re all respectful of those around us, ask questions to educate ourselves, and protect those who need it.
Photo taken from Flickr.