Associated Students Inc. and the LGBT/Queer Resource Center hosted a Safespace training session to help faculty and staff members better understand the experiences of Cal State Fullerton students who identify as LGBT.
“I think that it is important that when we are working with LGBT students that we educate as many people as possible, but I also think that it is important to educate our faculty and staff members of how they can be better allies to students,” Vincent Vigil, director of student engagement for student affairs, said.
Forty percent of suicide victims identify as gay or lesbian, said Vigil during the safespace training session Friday.
Twenty-six percent of gay teens have been kicked out of their homes by their parents or guardians upon “coming out,” Vigil added.
Twenty staff and faculty members discussed solutions to challenges that transgender college students face.
“I just wanted to learn more (on) how to best support this community,” said Shannah Johnson, CSUF academic advisor. “Our job is to support these students and to know that sometimes you are the only positive voice that they may experience is very intense, so it makes me want to do my job even better.”
The training included an activity called “Coming Out Stars,” in which volunteers roleplayed discriminatory scenarios that LGBT students might experience in school, work or their personal life.
The activity helped volunteers think about how a positive interaction between a student and faculty member could be the only positive interaction the student may have had, said Cathy Rivas, academic advisor.
“The media tends to tell us that everything is great, but is not for our students,” Vigil said.
The next safespace training will take place March 4 at noon in TSU Bradford.