Central Michigan University is a place of great diversity and has students that come from all walks of life. For many LGBTQ teens, college is a fresh start where they are free from anything that held them back in high school such as bullying or living with family who did not accept them. Hoping to help make their transition and experience out in the real world a happy and enjoying one, CMU offer various resources for students to use to help them.
The offices of LGBTQ services is on the lower floor of the Bovee University Center. Shannon M. Jolliff-Dettore is the director of this office and works hard to help students of all identities feel welcome on our campus. One way of helping is offering a “period package” which just constrains feminine hygiene products and it is to help transgender students who may not feel comfortable going out and buying them on their own. They can come to the offices in comfort knowing they will not feel judged.
Another service that they offer as of last semester is a trans clothing exchange program. People can donate the clothes they no longer wear or want and then those looking to dress more towards their identity but not quite able to obtain the articles they want can come to the offices and walk around to pick out a new wardrobe to help them feel more like themselves.
“We’ve actually had a great turnout of donors and about 7 people has actually stopped in to use the services,” Jolliff-Dettore says.
The office of LGBTQ services also offers a safe zone program. People can go through a training program and receive a sticker to place to let students know that they are a safe zone.
Spectrum is a registered student organization (RSO) at CMU. Spectrum works more as a support group on campus and is open to any person on any identity to come and feel welcomed and accepted. They hold weekly meetings which consist half of just hanging out and getting to meet other students in the LGBTQ community on campus and the other half will deal with the education and informing about LGBTQ.
Spectrum works with other RSOs to help put on events such as those that went on during pride week in April where the big event hosted activist Laverne Cox at the Finch Field House.
April is also pride month and to celebrate it, Spectrum hosted its annual Pride Prom. This event is a fun event where anyone is welcome to come and dance, eat food, and mingle. The main idea behind Pride Prom is that some people may not have felt comfortable to go to their own prom or dances in high school because of how they identified and they were ashamed to attend or go with with significant other. This event gives people that opportunity to have a fun prom night with friends if they didn’t get to experience it in high school.
Genevieve Agee shared a heart breaking and heart warming reason behind why she was attending Pride Prom. Genevieve is a senior here at CMU and is about to graduate. She just came out last year and said one of her main hopes for the night was really to just get to meet new people and friends and have a fun time. Her family she described as christian conservative and while they are accepting it is just not the support that one may look for. She says it can get lonely so “Its fun to come out to events like this where you can be yourself.”
LGBTQ students at CMU and across the nation face some challenging statistics. Many grow up in an environment that is not accepting of who they are and this can have a major impact on that persons life. College is a very important time to help those who may have felt trapped back in their hometown to really get out of the negative comments and find a group of people and friends that they can relate with. Human Rights Campaign offers a 2016 report on LGBTQ going up in America and how their lives are affected. one statistics showed that 73% of LGBTQ are more open to talking about themselves online than they are in person. This is a big issue no one should feel like they can only confide in the internet for acceptance, this nation, and the world, needs to create an environment where LGBTQ, young and old, do not have to feel ashamed to be themselves depending on where they are. Ideally, every place should be a safe zone but unfortunately that is not the case.
Jolliff-Dettore commented on how bullying is still present even here on CMUs campus. It can be as simple as words heard from friends or at a party. Many do not understand how hurtful some of their language can be so it is important for safe zone training and groups like Spectrum to get out there and inform people on how to be accepting and to not use hateful language.
Although CMU has come a far way in helping its LGBTQ students, there is still a far way to go. Introducing gender identity classes to allow for any student to register and learn more about different gender identities and how to properly talk and communicate with friends and stranger without being disrespectful to someones identity. CMU has a hopeful outlook for the future of its LGBTQ services.