by Sergio A. Gonzalez, M.A., M.Ed.
Markus Spiske/ Pexels
As the conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continue to evolve in higher education, it is important to include a focus on LGBTQIA+ students. LGBTQIA+ students are often marginalized and excluded from mainstream discourse at universities across the United States. It is critical that institutions of higher education create inclusive environments for LGBTQIA+ students by expanding curriculum to cover LGBTQ+ topics, providing resources such as counseling services, and developing policies that protect their rights. With this in mind, we must critically reflect on what we can do to better support LGBTQIA+ students in our educational settings so they feel safe, respected, and seen.
One way to make higher education more inclusive is by expanding curriculum to include LGBTQIA+ topics. This means not only introducing dedicated coursework on LGBTQ+ issues and history, but also incorporating discussions of gender, sexuality, and identity into existing courses. By doing so, we can create an environment where LGBTQIA+ students feel safe in classrooms and respected for their identities. Furthermore, such an approach will help to normalize conversations about these issues and allow for greater understanding amongst all students. We must also recognize the importance of diverse perspectives when discussing LGBTQIA+ issues. It is important that institutions include faculty and staff from various identities and experiences in order to provide a nuanced view of these issues and ensure equitable representation of queer voices within campus communities. Additionally, including voices from the LGBTQIA+ community in coursework and discussions can lend to a richer understanding of these topics. Overall, it is essential for institutions of higher education to create an environment where LGBTQIA+ students feel seen and respected by expanding curriculum to include diverse perspectives on LGBTQ+ issues. By doing so, higher education can help foster true inclusion and equality within educational spaces. It is time we recognize the importance of a queer-inclusive curriculum and make changes to ensure every student feels welcome in their academic environment.
Resources for LGBTQIA+ Students
In addition to an inclusive curriculum, institutions must also provide resources and services tailored specifically for LGBTQIA+ students. Thus far, many universities have failed to adequately address the needs of their LGBTQIA+ student populations. This is particularly concerning given that LGBTQIA+ individuals are more likely than others to experience mental health issues due to discrimination and social stigma. It is, therefore, essential that universities prioritize providing resources such as counseling services, support groups, and other wellness initiatives designed specifically with LGBTQIA+ students in mind. Additionally, it is paramount that institutions of higher education invest in creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students, including those from the LGBTQIA+ community. This can take the form of workshops, events, and initiatives that focus on marginalized identities and experiences, as well as offering programs like gender-neutral housing or LGBTQ+-friendly dorms.
But queering higher education isn’t just about creating an inclusive space — it’s also about giving students the tools to become advocates for social justice. After all, college is where many students learn about the world around them and how to make a difference. By equipping students with the knowledge and skills to fight injustice in their communities, we can create powerful change agents who will continue to push for progress even after they graduate. At the end of the day, queering higher education is not about placating one segment of the population — it is about creating a more equitable learning environment for all students, no matter their identity. Institutions of higher education must recognize that not everyone’s experience is the same and strive to make sure campus communities reflect this diversity. By queering higher education, we can create an educational system that truly honors every student’s unique experience.
We know that college is meant to prepare us for the future. But what about those of us who do not fit into the narrow mold of typical heterosexual college students? What about members of the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups? In an era where these issues are becoming more visible than ever before, it’s time for higher education to queer it up!
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