Finding College Community as an LGBTQ+ Student
Join CollegeAdvisor.com for a 60-minute webinar and Q&A on Finding College Community as an LGTBQ+ Student, featuring a panel of Admissions Experts and alumni of Harvard, Brown, and George Washington. Our panelists will share insight on building a college list, what to expect once at college, and how to find the support as an LGBTQ+ person on campus. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-06-13 Finding College Community as an LGBTQ+ Student
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Finding College Community as an LGBTQ+ Student. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hi, I’m Theodore Longlois. I am, I graduated Harvard college in, in 2016. I currently work as a rape response advocate. Um, at, at Harvard, I majored in folklore mythology with a minor in Spanish, in global health and health policy. I’m also a very proud outran man. So I’m glad to answer questions that you [00:01:00] may have about navigating college as a, uh, trans person.
Although I did transition after college and such, and, but I’ve helped advise students on things like housing. Um, for instance, I’m gonna turn it over to Micah. Hi, um, I’m Mika, I’m a current junior at Harvard. Um, I am studying art film and visual studies, and I’m really excited to be here with you all tonight.
Hi everyone. My name is Bailee Peralto. Um, I just graduated from brown university. I majored in public policy. Um, actually just graduated this past December, which is exciting. Um, but yeah, I, um, applied to college as a queer first generation biracial woman and daughter of an immigrant. So very many different intersecting identities going into the college application process.
Um, but I excited to talk to you all [00:02:00] about queerness and being LGBTQ plus, and those identities tonight.
Good evening everyone. Uh, my name is Latisha Ogbunamiri. I graduated from Texas a and M Corpus Christi in 2015 and got my master’s at George Washington university in 2020. Um, I am a proud bisexual CIS female woman, and I’m really excited to tell you what it’s like to kind of navigate all the different opportunities that open up to you, um, in college, but also after you graduate and go on into graduate school and, um, full time work.
So good. Definitely so real quick, we’re just gonna do a quick call to see where everyone’s at. So what grade are you entering this fall? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be if you’re taking a gap year, if you’re a transfer student, or if you, and if you’re a parent on the call, you can, um, select the grade that your child is going into.
And, um, just to give some brief information, the slides can be [00:03:00] downloaded from the link in the handouts tab. And on the final slide, there are some additional resources and links, um, that you may wanna look at and use. And we do have a second, um, panel webinar from, I think last year on college advisor, um, talking about, um, which I call it, uh, being applying as an LGBTQ plus student.
And so it is looking like we have, um, 33%, 10th graders and 67% 12th graders making up the majority.
All right. Um, I’ll just introduce myself a little bit further. Um, hi everyone. So my name is Nika. Um, my pronouns are they them or she, her, um, I mentioned that I’m a junior at Harvard right now. I’m studying art, home art film and visual studies. And, um, particularly I’m focusing on studio art. Um, I’m really interested in photography.
That is my medium of choice. Um, and part of the reason why [00:04:00] I wanted to speak on this panel tonight is because I think that queerness has played a really huge role in, um, the different extracurriculars and jobs that I’ve gravitated towards both in high school and in college. Um, and that was a huge part of my application to college, but also just my life in general.
Um, so I’ve often found myself in roles. Where I’m creating art, um, and also in roles where I’m in community and in mentoring relationships with others. Um, I was super involved directing theater in my high school. I, uh, have been at camp counselor at a couple of different summer camps. Um, I’ve taken photography classes outside of school and taught photography classes outside of school.
Um, and I’ve also, uh, worked as a writing teacher. Um, [00:05:00] so I think that those are really both teaching and creating are really, and, and really like being a role model too, are all central parts of my, um, relationship to my queer identity and to queer community. Um, I applied to 12 schools, some early some regular, uh, I applied to three or four women’s colleges because I was particularly interested.
In, um, the strong queer communities that they hosted, which, um, I’m happy to share more about. Um, I also more context about me is that I took a gap here before college. Um, it was a decision I thought about a lot and I had a really amazing year and found it to be a really special and unique opportunity.
Um, I also took a semester off spring 2021, um, while school was online. And that [00:06:00] is also a decision that I’m really happy that I made. Um, so happy to also answer questions about.
Hi again. Um, my name is Bailee my pronouns. Are she her? Um, so yeah, I graduated from brown with my bachelor’s in public policy with a focus on social and health policy to kind of expand upon that a bit more. Um, now being in kind of the professional field, um, having moved away from, um, kind of academics and things along those lines, I do focus a lot on mental health policy and my work, um, as well as, um, mental health policy as it relates to queer and trans communities.
Um, so that’s something that’s really integrated into the work that I do now outside of brown, something that I was really involved in, in during my time at brown as well. Um, I, like I said, I appli, I applied as a queer first gen biracial woman, daughter of an immigrant. Um, again, many intersecting identities, so [00:07:00] super happy to discuss with anyone.
Um, what it looks like to kind of navigate holding so many identities within yourself or within one self, um, and kind of what that looks like in the application process, as well as what that looks like in kind of navigating that in a college atmosphere. Um, I did teach myself the entire college application process as a first generation student.
Um, so a lot of the reason why I’m at college advisor now is to be able to kind of share that knowledge with other students, um, especially for generation students who, um, may not have access to resources, um, that would make it easier to navigate than the application process. Um, so I try to make it easier for other folks than it was for me.
Um, and overall, I would say the summary of my application process was that it was overwhelming at first, but, um, it was very rewarding in the end. Um, and it was especially rewarding to be able to kind of walk on campus kind. Um, and learn how to navigate the different identities that I hold, um, and doing so in a place that I thought was right for me at brown, [00:08:00] um, and some, a place that I thought was accepting for me, um, and a place that I thought was good overall for me as a person and the many identities that I held.
Um, so yeah, I’ll pass someone to the next person. Right. Um, so a huge part of my, um, college application process, um, was competitive. Right? I think it gave me the, uh, uh, you know, skills needed to be able to apply to college. I came from a low income, very large Texas public high school and had very little college advising.
Um, I kind of taught myself the process. I was really lucky that I was accepted early into Harvard. Um, it had, uh, because I had no other applications completed. Um, so I’ve no idea what I would’ve done. And I’m definitely trying to. At college advisor, people not be in that situation. Um, I, um, uh, what inadvertently [00:09:00] was out in the application process, I thought I was being out as an ally, but, um, it was very clear to my interviewer that I was a member of the community.
And I think that definitely helped me. Um, and, um, a huge part of my Harvard experience was, um, a public service. So I’m really glad to talk about that. Especially opportunities to get public service funded, uh, because I definitely needed that funding.
Hi everyone. So again, my name’s Latia or Tish, uh, I was living overseas and I grew up a military bra my entire life. And so I was lucky enough to be living in Japan, but unfortunately, during that time, it’s very hard to be doing the college process while you’re, um, overseas, trying to figure out what’s the best school to go to in a whole nother country, um, in the time that you probably haven’t seen or visit a lot of these schools.
And so, um, because that very similar, [00:10:00] like a lot of my other Carla parts, um, I pretty much had to do the entire process myself. I. You know, the internet was there, but I was the one that had the sick book that was flipping through and selecting the schools that I wanted to go to. And I was fortunate enough to apply to an NRTC, uh, nursing scholarship.
I was the first one in my school to get, um, a full ride scholarship to get accepted into college. And I was able to go to Georgia state. Um, but the downside about NRTC scholarships is that they’re very strict about their, um, their health requirements. And I have a peanut allergy and because of that, I lost my scholarship in late March.
so, um, very similar to like Theodore, I only applied to that one school. I kind of started applications, but I really only finished one to Georgia state university. And, um, unfortunately I lost my scholarship. Couldn’t afford there, found Texas was in state and I applied to one school in Texas and that was Texas a and in Corpus Christi.
And so, um, I try to use my knowledge as far as the [00:11:00] research that I did, um, to not just do the research, but actually really. Look at the different options you have and then actually apply to the different options and not just kind of sit there and say, okay, well there’s all these great schools, but I’m just gonna stick with this one.
Uh, cuz you never know what happens and it’s good to have options before you make your final decision and right before you go off to your freshman year of college. So yeah. Great. And were you Navy, were you a Navy brat? yes, I was a, I was a Navy brat. My dad was a Naval officer for 22 years in the military and um, and that’s why I did the RTT cuz I was the only guidance I really got from, um, From high school, like my counselors weren’t really good counselors.
I had to do all research myself and my dad was very much military or school and I thought both. So now I, I, um, I went in that route, but, um, but yeah, I think that, I think there’s so many different options out there and, and that’s why I love about college advisors that were [00:12:00] able to kind of let people know that there’s so many different options and there’s no one set path to get to where you wanna go.
Definitely. I was, I, dad was stationed in Okinawa first three years of my life, so
uh YOKA and Sabel okay. So moving on the discussion part of the webinar, our first question is how do I address queerness in my application? Um, some students may not be sure how to fully express themselves in the college application or may be hesitant to, can you provide any thoughts or support this can be in the essays or in scholarships, or just in general parts of the application where it may ask about this information.
so whoever wants to start off right. Go
so, um, I think, um, definitely do your research when apply and when addressing queerness, I would say by and large, most higher education institutions are really accepting right now. [00:13:00] And it’s definitely, you know, you know, showing your full, authentic self. And the application shows that you have a really thought about yourself and your identity and that you’re very self reflective and that self reflectiveness is to your advantage.
Um, that being said, you know, um, I would advise that, you know, if you are planning on going to a religiously affiliated, uh, institution that you do your research, um, and make sure that, um, that is not going to be a detriment. Um, and I think, you know, Show it as much of yourself as you are comfortable and it helped you tell your unique story.
So, um, you know, I, on my application, didn’t talk about it in my essays, but I did talk about it in the, a activities that you want to do, which is a question that Harvard asks and I put that one to be a member of [00:14:00] one of the GT student groups. Um, and so it can be something as small as that, um, or it can be something as big as making it the center of your essay.
Um, I also think, uh, you know, definitely applied L G B T specific scholarships. There are a lot of them out there. Um, Google is your best friend in finding notes and I’m gonna turn it over to Mika. Yeah, I just, I just wanna echo what Theodore said. Um, you do not have to be out in your college application process.
Is really, um, and that’s either way is great. Um, I personally, I didn’t write my common app essay about queerness, um, and in many of my applications didn’t mention it at all. Um, I also had parents who were very hands on in the college application process and was not out to them. So that was part of why.
Um, but I [00:15:00] did write my supplement for Harvard, which had a very open ended, prompt about queerness. And it was the only essay that they didn’t read. Um, I would say like, if you’re thinking about writing your essay about it, um, I think like what Theodore said was really great, like it shows that you’re self reflective.
I think thinking about it, thinking about your queer identity and your relationship to the queer community, As being more than kind of like this shallow idea of what representation is, um, and being instead an opportunity for you to share something deeper about your experiences and how you move through the world and how you relate to others.
Um, I think, yeah, I think it can be a really wonderful opportunity to share about things that are really important to you. And it also is not something that you should feel any kind of pressure to do.[00:16:00]
If I can jump in, I want to kind of echo that point as well. Um, I was not out in my application process, reason being, I was applying for local scholarships and asking for letters of recommendations from teachers who might not have been accepting of that fact. Um, and it was something that I kind of had to make a good decision about.
Um, Like what the, the risks would be in terms of both my college application process and kind of how I would be treated, um, which I know is something that a lot of folks go through throughout this process. Um, but like Mika said, like there’s no pressure to be out in your application. Um, but it can totally add to your application if that’s something that you’re comfortable with.
If that’s something that the research that you’re doing shows is something that the school would be comfortable with and accepting of. Um, it can, it can only add authenticity to your application, but it also doesn’t take away authenticity. If you’re not able to be out in your, in your application or you don’t feel comfortable being out in [00:17:00] your application.
Um, yeah. That’ were my thoughts. Yeah. I, I disagree with . I agree with everyone else. I don’t think there’s really much else to add to it. I think just as long as it, it’s all about your comfort, where you’re comfortable in laying. How you’re gonna talk about yourself. I know that there’s so many different aspects to you and that there’s so many great things that make up who you are as a person.
And so whether it is your experiences within the queer community or your experiences in so many different other aspects of your life, you know, talk about what you are passionate about. If like, make it like a lot of the things that she does intersects with the queer community. So of course they’re able to do what they want to do and, and share what they’re comfortable with sharing with.
And if that’s not necessarily you right now, that’s totally fine. Um, so it’s all about how can you share who you are authentically and how are you growing as a person and how you tend to shape your world in, [00:18:00] through going to college. So that’s all that really matters. Definitely going on to the next question.
How can I get active in college? Um, so if you can list any clubs, support services on and off campus opportunities that you are or have been a part of. And then also if there’s time, um, mentioning anything that can be done in high school or anything that you did in high school that can help with discovering identity finding community.
I I’ll jump in and I don’t wanna hog the limelight, but, um, there are so many ways to be active in college. Um, I would say. There are three categories that I arbitrarily think of the first is affinity groups. So a groups are specifically based around your identity. Um, and obviously in this context, you’re talking about queer identity, but that can [00:19:00] be racial identity class, um, being first gen.
Um, and those can be great. Um, I, for example, was part of a. Underground by group, because, you know, in 2015, 2016, being BI was still sometimes stigmatized in the L G B T community. So just not that it isn’t now, but, um, and that was something that really helped me just find a sense of place. Then there, there is service for the queer community.
Um, so like one of my friends ran a hotline for LGBT students on campus that wanted to call in with concerns. And then there is making the existing groups more queer friendly. And that’s where I really found myself. I led like diversity education and debate. I made our pure counseling group that focused on sexual assault, more, uh, inclusive of all genders.
And she just focusing [00:20:00] on the experiences of women. And I increased our training about L G B T issues. And so it’s, uh, you know, there, so, and there’s pros and cons to each one. I think something to think about is. You know, what makes college home is really, really important. And you should definitely do what makes college home, but also what are your long term goals?
I knew I wanted to apply to medical school and I was applying to schools in Texas that might not be queer friendly. So that’s one reason why I focus on changing existing organizations. So I didn’t have to be out in all of my medical school apps. Whereas, you know, my friends who, uh, you led the LGBT student groups, um, that limited some of the medical schools they could apply to because otherwise a huge chunk of their application would’ve been missing.
Uh, and as far as getting active in high school, there are a most major Metro [00:21:00] areas, even within the south, um, have queer centers. Um, there’s also online mentorship programs. I’m currently a mentor for trans mentor project, huge plug for that, where you can actually just get a mentor online who will guide you through, you know, being a trans team, cuz that’s hard.
Um, and again, I would think about those three categories, uh, when finding out what’s best for you.
Yeah, I, I would definitely second that I did more of joining org, Zach kind of aligned with what I was doing. Uh, partly also my mom forced me to become an orientation leader. She went behind me back and signed me up for it. um, but it helped helped me open me as a person and that, um, I got to meet some really great people.
And so that kind of is what led me to now be part of college advisor, because I was highly involved in our admissions and our, uh, recruitment team, even in college. Um, . [00:22:00] And so just being part of something that was, it was gender inclusive and, and LGBTQ friendly without even trying to be like, we just all kind of accepted each other and our different backgrounds so quickly and so easily.
And so, uh, that kind of then helped me push into when, when I became a resident advisor and oversaw students at, in dorms. Um, it helped me when I was part of SDR student government association and kind of advocating for more, um, support groups in, in that aspect. And then even I, I joined a multicultural sorority and so, you know, a lot of people think, you know, it’s, it’s very traditionally, you know, either identify as women, you know, male or female when you pursue Greek life.
Um, but my sorority’s very inclusive. We, we call each other sisters or siblings depending on what, how we identify ourselves. So we really don’t try to, you know, put ourselves in one box and things like that. And that was because the fact that we all kind of advocated for. Are for each other, for our, um, [00:23:00] sisterhood, as we like to call it our sibling hood in that, you know, um, not all of us identify as CIS female.
A lot of us identify as, you know, gender fluid or, or transgender or things or, or really anything, gender inclusive. And so, um, I think it also just comes down to, uh, keeping an open mind. And, um, again, it’s, it’s the authenticity, as thera said, like as long as you’re authentic, as being true to yourself, you’re gonna find spaces that are gonna make you feel like you’re at home and that’s gonna make you, um, feel like, okay, this is somewhere I can be accepted and, and loved.
And then also find a space for someone else to that might be, who’s not maybe ready to be out, but feel like they can be comfortable in this space.
Yeah, something that I did when I like applied for jobs and joined extracurriculars and things like that in college was I kind of looked into something that brown has a [00:24:00] lot of is, um, like descriptions of like a club or a job or an organization’s like Praxis, like their like practice. Like they’re like the values that they hold, the, um, things like that, that they kind of abide by when it comes to, um, kind of functioning as a job or a club or whatever it is.
Um, and it’s one thing for like a, a club or a group to say, you know, we’re LGBTQ friendly, you know, work very friendly and another thing for them to mean it. Um, and so when I was kind of going into applying for positions and going into clubs and things like that in college, something that I kind of always made sure to do was to recognize the, the jobs, the positions, the clubs that were.
Very intentional about how they spoke about queerness and how they, um, were kind of navigating, um, queer spaces and bringing in queer folks and being inclusive, like truly inclusive in that sense of things. Um, for example, like I had one position where I was, I [00:25:00] was, it was a resident assistant position it’s called something different at brown.
Um, but I was specifically focused on, um, or I was specifically there as a person who was supporting folks of color, students of color, um, and something that we learned as we were called minority queer counselors was we spent a lot of time understanding the intersectionality of being a queer trans person of color.
Um, we also learned a lot about, um, disability justice and things along those lines. So just like being in very intentional spaces, um, where. Not only is it just about, you know, being inclusive as far as queerness is concerned, but there’s also these other things that have to be that we have to be inclusive, the buzzword being, um, about as well.
And so in summary, essentially, I just was very intentional about what spaces I entered into to make sure that those spaces were intentional about the identities that I held as well. Um, and truly kind of accepting in that sense of things.[00:26:00]
Yes. And Nika, did you have anything you wanted to add? Okay, cool. So moving on to the next question, what are academic opportunities that students can look for? Um, so like majors, uh, again, careers, um, for students who want to pursue a career or major in support of the LGBTQ plus community,
Yeah, I can start. Um, so healthcare is a, is a great area to go into. Um, I pursued my bachelor’s in health sciences and my master’s in public health. And, um, you know, I just graduated my master’s, but, um, in the last few years, um, there’s a lot of schools that are now adding specifically LGBTQ health, um, certificates, degrees, um, that you can actually pursue that didn’t exist when I was, um, applying to colleges and, and really looking at, um, at opportunities.
And so, but there’s so much, um, in that area, especially because there’s [00:27:00] not a lot of representation in the LGBTQ community, especially in the trans community, in our, um, in our healthcare. And so, um, especially if you fall into, into gender inclusive or expansive, um, Communities definitely look into healthcare.
I think there’s a great opportunity there. Um, as we becoming, it’s becoming less stigmatized and more accepted and more understand that this is essential, uh, healthcare, um, it, it helps us to recognize there is a need for those who fall in that community to be more understanding. And so I’m very lucky that I work for a nonprofit healthcare center here in Houston, that, um, we are the largest location in Texas that provides, uh, transgender care, um, with hormone therapy and, um, you know, um, um, just in general, just any gender care and it’s for, um, children and adults.
So we, we see all the way from age five up. And so, um, that’s for the, the trans community and gender expansive community, but also, um, [00:28:00] just being able to provide, um, Even education and, um, and jobs for the LGBTQ community. Um, a lot of the people within my, uh, company fall into the LGBTQ community are, um, CEO is a, is a black gay, married man with two kids.
And it’s so great to, to know that, like, not only that, yes, we were founded to support the community, but we know that like we’re led by those in the community is very great. Um, so public health, health education, um, the arts, uh, really anywhere where you can express yourself and be, but also give back to the community and know, and a lot of people to know that there’s somewhere that can go and feel comfortable and feel accepted and, and it feel normal to just be there, you know, not like, oh, like, great.
You’re you’re accepting me. Like, almost like you’re tolerating me, but know that like it’s normal for you to walk through the door and, and no one blinks an eye because it’s, this is who we are, you know?[00:29:00]
I second public health. Um, I’m in public health or I work in public health. I graduated public policy. I work in public health. Um, any field has a long way to go. Um, but I think that public health, um, is making a lot of strides in the current moment, um, in terms of, um, that culture of welcoming folks, um, and folks feeling like they belong.
Um, yeah, just wanted to second that
I’ll also jump in and, um, throw in quick plug for, uh, gender and sexuality studies as an academic opportunity. Um, I’ve taken many classes in that department at Harvard. They have been like beyond first of all, like some of the most directly applicable classes to my life, um, and have taught me to think really critically and [00:30:00] rigorously about the world around me.
And I’m so grateful for that. Um, but also just the faculty and the kind of like pedagogical philosophy of those classes tends to really be like kind of practicing what they preach. Um, and just like consistently those classes have been really thoughtfully taught, um, and have been really wonderful environments to make friends and like mm-hmm, think together.
Yeah. Yeah. I wanna second everyone’s comments and I, I also think, you know, There, you can take a queer lens and apply it to just about any field. We need queer educators who help youth feel empowered. We need queer lawyers who make sure that people in Alabama get, uh, their driver’s license. Um, you know, I had to literally call the a C L U to get mine.
[00:31:00] Um, you know, we need queer urban planners who think about public safety for trans people, um, and visibility. We, you know, we need queer doctors, if any queer that works with people, we need someone to apply a critical queerly to.
Definitely. And I just wanna drop another plug if you’re interested in going into education, check out school counseling. Um, I’m actually, um, trying to apply to NYU’s school counseling program and it does have an advanced certificate for working with LGBTQ students. And so programs like that can also be helpful, getting more educators, definitely.
And mental health resources and policy changes in schools so that every kid feels safe in schools cuz it’s school. Everybody’s supposed to feel comfortable there. But yeah. So if anyone ventures in, um, but going onto the next question, uh, campus housing and accommodations, what should [00:32:00] I look for? So this can be like dorms on campus, off campus, living, um, roommates.
Uh, just anything you wanna add. So one thing I would advise is being very open. In your housing applications. So most colleges have a separate housing application than their, uh, regular application. And some colleges let you pick roommates. Some don’t, um, usually like the more elite colleges try to pair you with a roommate.
Whereas a lot of state schools, they don’t even have enough rooms for everybody. So they just kind of let you do your own thing. Um, but I would be really open for your safety because you do not want to be paired with a homophobic roommate, um, all for a year. Like that’s just not an okay place to live and you deserve better than that.
Um, and, um, it’s also definitely, um, This is slight deviation, [00:33:00] but definitely be open about your accessibility needs as well. Um, so, you know, I had, you know, significant food allergies, so they put me in a dorm that had a kitchen. Um, so that way, because not all of the freshman dorms did. Um, so that way I could take care of that.
And one that had a street access in case I needed, um, transportation for anaphylactic shock. Um, that is, you know, little things like that, that you might not think of be, be really, you know, intentional because your entire life is going to be in this very contained space. Um, and. It is definitely possible for trans people to get housing.
That is a single room. Um, it’s also possible to do, you know, uh, housing and a room with somebody that is gender affirming. Um, but I, I would say that is one place where you don’t, um, want to be in the closet. [00:34:00] I, I definitely agree. I, I was a resident advisor, like I said, I was for two years. And, um, you know, I, I went to a state school.
I went to a small state school in Texas. And so, um, the, the cool thing about our housing application was that we, um, you could, yes, you could either pair with someone that you knew like a best friend or whatever, but we also did personality tests too. So like, it took a while to complete it, but it would ask questions like, you know, are you supportive of, you know, Someone in the LGBTQ community, are you against that?
Like, so like they would make sure that when you were, if you personally didn’t pick up roommate, that whoever you were staying with aligned very closely with what you also believed in and not every school is going to do that. Um, so I, I agree with Theodore, like make sure you are being very open about what you’re, um, comfortable with.
Um, and in that way that we know, um, that you’re not stuck in a situation that could be potentially, um, harmful to you, cuz it’s not fair. This is you’re [00:35:00] you’re for however many years you’re in college is, is a great chance to grow and, and to thrive in a new environ. And it would, I would hate for it to start off in such a, you know, a very uncomfortable way.
Um, and a lot of housing now is very, uh, gender inclusive, um, where I stayed, you know, your, your, um, you know, your roommate might not be someone of, of a different gender, but like your. The next door neighbor could be someone of a different gender. So, um, we were very mixed co-ed throughout the entire building.
It wasn’t kind of split between one and the other, like some places are, um, so it’s very much intermixed and a lot of housing nowadays are providing more like sweet styles, more like your own room and maybe like share the bathroom with somebody. It it’s very different than it was like, even like when I was a freshman or like 10 years ago where it was like four people to like to one room or something like that, or two people to one room.
And you literally, your beds were like facing each other. It’s very much more like you kind of have your [00:36:00] own space and maybe just share a shower with either one or one to four other people or, or things of that nature. So, um, I guess that’s the upside now of a lot of schools is they’re doing it more like that now.
Um, but yeah. Yeah. I, um, often into gender neutral housing, My before my freshman fall, um, Harvard operated under the assumption that you would be placed in a single gender, uh, room, if not like the dorms have always been, I think co-ed, but, um, yeah, unless you opted into gender neutral housing and that was such an incredible decision.
Um, it really, it meant that all of my roommates ended up being queer. I was in a suite with three other people, um, and I’m still super close with them. So if I would say, if that’s an option, [00:37:00] I like 100% would recommend that for any queer person. Um, just as a way of yeah. Making community and also ensuring that you’re gonna be placed with people who are queer friendly.
Did anyone have anything else to add for this slide? Okay. Okay. So moving on. So that is the end of the presentation part, the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. Remember that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab and read them aloud before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up.
If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page. Also known as the website, uh, or else you won’t get all the features of big markers. So just make sure you join through the custom link.
Now let’s start with the Q and a. So our first question is how do, um, teachers or professors, [00:38:00] um, treat you when it comes to pronouns?
well, maybe jump in just because I’m, I think the only one on the panel who’s currently in college and I think that this is something that has changed super, super rapidly mm-hmm the last few years. Um, but I would say that in my experience, in a lot of my humanities and arts classes, um, professors have been really great about asking people to introduce themselves with pronouns.
Um, obviously that can be kind of a loaded question too, and can like, cause a lot of stress and anxiety for people who are using pronouns that are non-normative. Um, but I have definitely been asked for my pronouns in many of my classes. I do know that my friends in stem majors have [00:39:00] generally had less of that experience, but I don’t think that that is like across the board.
True. And certainly not at every school, but I guess, I guess I, I think that we’re still in a moment where this is changing a lot and. hopefully for the better. Um, and I think that it’s becoming more and more common for professors to ask for pronouns in classes. Um, but it’s certainly not everywhere.
Uh, did anyone have anything else to add? We can move on. I love it. Oh, sorry. I was gonna say that, um, I’ve been contacting a lot of my professors for recommendation letters and a lot of, and, you know, coming out to them, you know, is something different than they knew me by in college. And I’ve had great experience with that.
Um, and you know, I’ve a, um, [00:40:00] you know, I’ve actually, you know, when doing the name change had professors help me with things like, um, trying to get my name changed on the articles that I was published in. Uh, so, and I would say that that is an aside, if you know, you are going to be going by a new name and you do, um, do research publication, it might be worth trying to put your chosen name on applicate on the essay then just because re your research continues with you throughout the rest of your life.
And it’s easier to start off with having it under your name than having to go back and retroactively change.
Moving on to the next question. Are there any, uh, classes specific to laws for LGBTQ plus youth? I want to go into queer youth social work. And also if you can add any other classes that you think would be interesting or helpful for students? Um,[00:41:00]
I would say like, kind of like, um, how we said before, uh, public health has a lot of wealth of information. Um, it’s, it’s a public health in of itself is still kind of a general term because like Billy said, she’s in public policy. I focus more on health communication and, um, um, health promotion, but there’s also law under that as well.
And so there are quite a few classes that might be related to that. Um, in fact, it’s kind of shifting away a little bit from your question, but not, um, what, um, At my current, um, full-time job at the nonprofit work. We also have social social workers. And so they do provide, um, social work for LGBTQ youth specifically.
Um, so we have social workers, we have therapists, we have doctors that all cater into that, um, aspect. In fact, like about, um, we have about seven that are actually, um, that are queer in the queer community and of those seven about, um, four of [00:42:00] them identify well are trans, there are trans, so there’s, there’s a lot of, um, classes that you can’t take within public health.
But I think even just in general, like thera said, I think any particular, um, any particular major you go into you, um, probably have a chance to, to kind of discuss it. And I live in Texas. And so, you know, um, LGBTQ health right now is a unfortunately a hot topic button, especially for, um, Transgender youth, um, care and what’s going on with social work in that aspect.
And so, um, I think just even just having open conversations about what’s going on right now, I think is a good chance to take in your classes. Um, if you’re, um, even if they’re not specifically for the LGBTQ community,
I have to agree. I think a lot of the courses that I ended up taking, um, that I found to be really useful for me in terms of informing, like [00:43:00] going into mental health, public health work going into, um, that kind of work itself was a lot of, it was like gender and sexuality studies courses. A lot of it was, um, like there was some public health courses in there.
A lot of it was, um, like Africana studies, things along those lines to where, like, I was able to take courses in different departments that informed how I approached. My career, um, and how I kind of walked into my career. Um, for example, I took a course on, I mentioned earlier disability, justice, um, and disability activism and things along those lines, which obviously has, um, a very like varied lens for, for different folks.
Um, and so I think kind of, again, like not directly answering the question, but kind of roundabout answering the question, um, is that while there might not be like a specific course, that’s specifically directed at like what you are looking for a lot of courses that you may have the option of taking during your time in college can inform kind of [00:44:00] how you approach advanced degrees.
If you decide to get an advanced degree or how you approach kind of postgraduate work as well. Um, when you are open to being able to take kind of different types of coursework as well,
I just wanted to add, um, I’m a inequalities minor also. And in some of the inequalities classes or, um, what are those things called? Sociology courses? Those tend to have more, um, like discussion on different communities and, um, different there’s a lot of talk of intersectionality. That’s all I can remember.
It was more so on race, but you can’t talk about, uh, LGBTQ communities in those courses. And then also in one of my education classes, we had a bit more room with our essays and stuff to talk about different, um, issues and things going on in education and in schools. And so I had the chance to write my paper on, um, school counselor resources for LGBTQ students.
So even just, um, taking the Liberty [00:45:00] in different classes to do more research or to do work or projects on communities that you’re interested in, or your LGBTQ I identity, um, that can also be an option. Uh, did anyone have anything else add to that question? Okay. Uh, going on to the next question, I’ll kind of combine these because they kind of lean the same, uh, one student’s asking for those who went to colleges in the south.
Did you find supportive groups on campus and then another students asking, um, do you guys always feel welcomed by your institutions?
Um, I go ahead.
Oh me. Oh, um, I, I don’t, am I the only one that went to college in the south? I think I can’t. Yeah. So, um, I, yeah, I think I found supporter groups. Um, I, [00:46:00] I, like I said, I joined, I was an orientation leader. I was a tour guide. I was, um, resident advisor. So I did a lot in admissions and, um, I don’t know if it just so happens to be a very open inclusive group, but that’s just how it was like, I felt the most comfortable would be who I was to come out to my friends that way through being with them.
And it was just, they were so supportive. And so, um, so accepting in a lot of, a lot of people, I am friends with also identify in the LGBTQ community. So it was kind of just very easy and, and helpful to just be around them. Um, as far as feeling welcomed, I, again, I think you have to recognize we are in the south and I lived in Texas and I went to school in Texas.
And so, you know, there are a lot of, you know, people, um, with not gonna be mean, but people with I ideas that disagree with how you try to be as an authentic person. And, um, I think it’s wrong as you always continue to find your community and [00:47:00] recognize that there’s so many more people in your community that support you, then there are.
People outside who are just for lack of ignorant of, of, you know, just trying to live a normal life. And so, um, yeah, I, I wouldn’t say necessarily my institution. I think my institution felt, I felt very welcomed by my institution. I mean, there were some people who didn’t support them, but they were never very like, um, other than this one guy that would come on a campus randomly , there was really never like an aggressive feeling against the LGBTQ community.
Um, there was never, we had a lot of, um, events supporting like national coming out day and LGBTQ history month and, and all those different things and no one ever like even trashed the events or anything, um, But I think, yes, just also recognize that when you’re in the south that, um, there, there is some form of, I guess, fear that there won’t be acceptance, but you know, that there is a community, there’s a community in [00:48:00] every single town.
Um, you just have to find them and, and, um, and, and be a comfortable with that. So, yeah, I, I really emphasize the finding your community portion of things. Um, I think that even, even like me going to brown, which is like very known to be a very accepting, um, university, um, very like socially forward things along those lines, like I still have encountered kind of that pushback, I guess, to, for lack of a better phrasing, um, in terms of, um, being queer in terms of being first generation in terms of, um, Really any identity that doesn’t identify with the majority?
Um, I definitely felt that pushback at brown, especially brown being such a prestigious institution. Um, so I would say like, I do feel accepted at brown. I feel accepted [00:49:00] within my community at brown. Um, but it is, it was certainly different than what I expected in the sense that I expected it to be completely.
Totally like no issues. Um, and that kind of was not the case, um, because there’s always gonna be those people who aren’t as accepting as you think they are. Um, and so it’s just kind of something to be kind of conscious of aware of not just scare you away from going like to any of these institutions, but, um, that, yeah, even at an institution like brown that is very well known for being very forward socially.
Um, there are still those, those people, um, but once you find your community, like once you find your people, um, then it’s very easy to feel welcome and safe, and like you can be yourself,
uh, To kinda, uh, go off of that. Um, can y’all talk about like, uh, differences in like cities, cause [00:50:00] from what I’ve seen, it seems like the more close you are to a major city, like Atlanta, even if it’s in the south Atlanta, Austin, or like New York city, like bigger cities, there is a bit more progressiveness, I guess.
Um, would you say that that’s the truth? How do you feel about like your city’s location in terms of your acceptance and safety in those areas?
Um, I live, so I live in Houston, Texas, um, and I went to school in a slightly smaller town in Texas, but still it’s still a pretty. I mean, the size of Corpus Christi is definitely bigger than some of the other towns in, in other locations, but it’s considered a small town for Texas. Uh, and so, um, I, I think we have to recognize that even being in a bigger city, you know, Houston’s being the fourth largest city, United States and Harris county, where Houston is located the third largest county United States.[00:51:00]
There’s still going to be, um, some pushback, Texas itself is a, is a conservative state. They have conservative youths regarding the LGBTQ community. Um, and so, I mean, Houston pride is coming up, um, with participating in it’m so excited by the way. Um, but, um, you know, as big as that gets and as big as the culture is here in Houston, there is still, um, we’re surrounded by conservative counties.
I, I live in a conservative county outside of Harris county. And so, um, You know, I think it, it goes back to what Bailee said. It’s finding that community, it’s finding those resources and, um, and sticking with them. And, and, and, and knowing that you have a place in, in that community, you know, we’ve Houston has suffered, you know, a lot of hardships in the LGBTQ community.
Um, not only just from law, but just in general of treatment from other people, but I think what makes Houston so strong is that they are, um, there’s [00:52:00] so many people who come out to support, um, their community, um, whether it’s, you know, the bigger corporations that are doing what they can, or just the one or two people that come together as, you know, just marching together, walking together, supporting financially, emotionally, um, Whatever we can do, um, to help each other.
I think that’s, I think that’s where it all comes down to. Is that, um, no, no, I don’t think there’s any city, even California being as progressive is I think there’s, there’s still always pushback out there too. I think it’s a matter of finding your community and, and, and, um, not only, you know, being a part of it, but also try to be there for others too.
You know, I think it’s all give and take. Don’t just take, also be willing to give what you can, um, you know, even if it’s just hearing something out, sharing information, you know, you don’t have to be out to, to support your community. You can still be an ally in any aspect. So I think as long as you’re sharing information, passing that [00:53:00] along and also being willing to take the information when it’s, when you’re ready for it.
That’s, what’s important.
Yeah. I’ll also say, um, about Harvard and Boston, I think. Something that’s really nice about going to school in a city is that, um, you can find, you can often find queer community in, through the city and in the city, if you are having trouble finding your niche in your school. Um, so it took me definitely a little while to find my community at school.
Um, I definitely feel super grounded at, um, the radio station at Harvard and the literary magazine. Um, but I also have spent a lot of time in Boston at, um, you know, music venues and queer bars now that I’m of age and like art shows. Um, and so I [00:54:00] would say that has also been a really nice, um, option to have for moments when campus doesn’t feel quite as friendly.
And I also think that even just being. near a city or being in a place where you can easily get to a variety of locations. Like Boston is relatively close to Providence and Portland, Maine, and New York city. Um, so I’ve also had the opportunity to really kind of expand my community in that sense. And I feel like that has been, yeah, just such a gift.
Although I was educated in Boston, I currently live in Birmingham, Alabama, so I actually wanna throw in a plug for the Southern cities, um, per capita at the largest queer population in the United States actually is in the south. Um, it’s one of the best kept secrets. Um, [00:55:00] and. Even Birmingham, which is just a city of a million people had a very robust, you know, two day giant queer pride, um, just this weekend.
Um, and I ha you know, have queer friends from church from work from political groups. Um, you know, it’s, um, you know, and I would say that most of the major Southern cities are pretty queer inclusive. You’re going to encounter homophobia. Um, but you do in the north as well. Um, and, but, you know, there is a real vibrancy to queer culture in the south.
Um, and I think a sense of solidarity that I personally didn’t find as much in queer spaces in the north were, was more accepted. Um, so there, wasn’t kind of that need, um, for community and solidarity.
Great and real quick, um, for [00:56:00] those of you, uh, who aren’t already working with us, we know that the college admissions process can be overwhelming for parents and students alike. Um, our team of over 300 former, uh, admissions officers and admissions experts already to help you and your family navigate it all in one-on-one advising sessions.
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Now back to the Q and a. Uh, going on to the next question. Did any of you receive scholarships for LGBTQ students or have you found any, or helped your students that you have been advising with finding any? I[00:57:00]
definitely know they are out there. Um, I haven’t personally received one, but there are a lot of tailored scholarships out there. Uh, you can find some links to resources on the final slide of this webinar, if you are interested in finding those. And then also a Google search is always good. Um, going on to the next question, um, uh, for many students writing about themselves or their identity can be challenging.
Do you have any strategies or, um, personal experience you could share to help them with figuring out what to write about how to write it?
Um, I would say like, kind of think about like, um, what does it mean to you? Like how, how has your experiences shaped who you are today is it is who you are and how you identify kind of related also to what you are pursuing in your future career. [00:58:00] Like myself. Like I said, I’m a C I’m a CIS female, um, bisexual and I, um, And I’m black.
Um, obviously, and, uh, so when I was pursuing my degrees, I was really wanting to focus in, um, reproductive and sexual health and maternal and child health specifically for black women, because that is a huge issue they have when it comes to, um, maternity. Um, so that’s kind of like where my identity and who I was and what.
Witnessed when I was growing up as a, as a black woman, like how it impacted what I wanna do now. And I think even how Mika said too, like they wanted their everything to do in the arts is related to the queer me in some aspect. I think it, even if it’s not like necessarily the center role of your identity, it’s some way who you are and what you’ve gone through kind of guides you into what you are trying to do in the future.
So if you speak on that passion, you recognize in some way you already are [00:59:00] pointing out and talking about your identity. Yeah. Just to, um, kind of jump off of that. Like, it doesn’t have to be so direct or so explicit to be authentic and deep and engaging for someone to read. And, um, you know, even thinking about like, I often give students advice to try to think about like a narrative, um, or a moment.
Really pivotal or important to them that they can ground an essay in and then kind of jump from there. And you don’t, you’re the thesis of your essay does not need to be, I am queer. like, that’s gonna it’s. If you are writing about your life experiences, who you are, is going to kind of shine through, um, in a deeper, in a deeper sense.[01:00:00]
Uh, did anyone else have anything to add? Okay, cool. Well, um, the webinar is coming to a close. So is there any last minute advice or tips you wanna give to students or any words of wisdom, personal experience, anything. All right.
I’ll just go back. Yeah, go ahead. Bailee. thanks. Um, I would just go back to finding your community, like wherever you end up, no matter, like in the south, not in the south, you know, whatever it is, um, find your community, find your people, they exist everywhere. Um, it’s just a matter of, um, yeah. Putting in the effort to find those people and to feel comfortable with those people, I think would be my key takeaway from.
Yeah, I definitely second that I think, you know, make, make good use of this time that you’re in college. Like yes, of course you’re pursuing your degree and you’re, you know, that’s [01:01:00] the one step you need to take to get into your career. But, um, I look back at college with such fond memories because I was open to so many different experiences.
And I think there was so many more that I could have done if I had been a little bit more open. And again, it doesn’t necessarily have to be through your queerness. It could just be just be open to trying new things and, and trying, um, You know, having new experiences. I am a huge advocate for studying abroad.
I that’s my one regret I didn’t do in college. Um, because it just allows you to open yourself to new, um, experiences and cultures. Um, and, and I think that’s also how you start to find your community. If you, if you keep yourself closed in, if you just focus on the academics, you’ll never really find what’s out there for you.
So, you know, enjoy this time applying to college, but really understand that when you go off to college, be open to new experiences, don’t limit yourself to just your one major, be open to different other things. That’s how I found public health. That’s how I started to find my passion was because I was willing to see what else was out [01:02:00] there and try a class or two ended up with, you know, an extra 20 credits worth in psychology, just because I could, um, because you have to be open for these experiences.
Anyone else okay. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and thank you to our wonderful panelists. We hope you had a great time hearing about this information and found it helpful. Um, so that is the end of the webinar. Here’s the rest of our June series, featuring webinars on identity admission strategies and building the best college list for you.
Um, so do check those out as you are, um, stepping into your senior year or even earlier in high school, um, remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, and there is an additional slide with resources and links, if you would like to look up those. Um, so yeah, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight.