Nestled behind Barnes and Noble in the University Women’s Center lies a room faculty and students have been pushing to establish.
The LGBTQ Resource Room, which opened Feb. 22, acts as a safe space for students to come together, be themselves and seek support on campus, said graduate assistant and coordinator of the LGBTQ Project Karie Holton said.
While there has long been a push to create a space for LGBTQ students on campus, the resource room came together rather quickly. The Office of Diversity helped to gather furniture, a TV and decorations for the room in the Women’s Center established. The resource room was supported by the LSU President F. King Alexander’s office and the provost’s office, with Provost Richard Koubek attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Wes Heath, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said the room’s resources are minimal right now as the funding is primarily through donations. Inside, students will find pride flags and a banner detailing the history of LGBTQ people in the United States. Soon, Heath said hehopes the shelves will be filled with books, movies and TV shows about LGBTQ people. Additionally, Heath hopes the room will have a computer and free printing services.
Summer Steib, director of the Women’s Center, said establishing the resource room is an important step in the direction of establishing and entire LGBTQ center, much like the African American Cultural Center or the Women’s Center, on campus. Steib notes that such places began as small rooms and grew into larger centers on campus as students needs were assessed.
Within the Women’s Center, Heath said there are a number of individuals who will be “safe space trained” by the end of this month.
Holton said that having a safe space for marginalized groups like LGBTQ students is important because it helps those students feel welcomed and valued.
“I think the term ‘safe space’ has been twisted to mean that you will be shut down if you are saying something that not everyone agrees with but what safe spaces really mean...is that everyone can relax and be themselves, no matter who they are,” Holton said.
Steib said she hopes to soon see a campus with more understanding and knowledge of LGBTQ issues.
“[I want to see more] knowledge among our campus community about these issues… and understanding what true inclusion looks like…,” Steib said. “I’m hopeful that we can do those things and move the needle on some of those issues for the betterment of all of us.”
The LGBTQ Resource Room is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.