LGBT Resource Guide

You may have noticed, if you are an LGBT student at UMBC, that there are a limited number of resources available to you on campus. You are likely to be directed to either the Mosaic Center or the Women’s’ Center, and as helpful as those resources are, the resources were limited and scattered in so many different places that it was difficult to find anything. With our project, we wanted to create a single, comprehensive resource guide so that everything was in the same place and could be updated with new resources. As a result of our project, an lgbt student reached out to our group on how helpful the pamphlet, website, and flyer were since the resources were all in one place and that they wanted copies for the on campus office they worked for. We decided to create an HTML based website for the off-campus resources, particularly in Baltimore, in addition to our pamphlet which had information about campus resources for both students and staff/faculty. We also decided to create a poster with the resource links, QR codes to the digital pamphlet, and the HTML website to be discreet and mindful of the fact that there are LGBT students on campus who may not be out.

Our first step was to compile a list of all the places and people on campus who might have resources and to contact them, through emails and in person meetings. We also collected resources through online research. What we found was that a lot of people didn’t have any resources to give us but were very interested in getting the resource guide. Many of those who had UMBC Campus resources also had Baltimore resource suggestions. This is where we ran into problems, which mostly were that people weren’t responding to emails. However, this was easily solved by making office visits or phone calls.

Our next steps were to create and format the website, pamphlet, and poster as well as upload the resources we collected. We utilized an online software called Canva for creating the poster and the pamphlet. While the poster was printed by the GWST Department as a flyer, the pamphlet was done brochure style and printed through Commons Vision as seen here:

The file with the Baltimore LGBT Resources website code was created through an application called Atom and uploaded to a free domain called 000webhost. The website can be found here, and a digital version of the pamphlet can be found here.

We distributed the pamphlets and flyers around campus to various locations including the Women’s Center, the Mosaic Center, the Prism Lounge and LSU, the Counseling Center, the Deans of each college (i.e. Arts,  Humanities and Social Sciences, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, etc..). We received positive feedback from the campus offices and colleges as to how important our work was to the UMBC Campus as well as most offices wanted to make copies of the pamphlets and flyers and distribute the information to their email lists. We created an email account, lgbtresourceumbc19@gmail.com, so that people can suggest new resources to us. We also made an instagram account, @umbc_bmore_lgbt_resources, for wider exposure.

Activism and Its Impact on Our Group:

Ruth: I learned that you really can’t do activism alone, it’s a group effort. As much as I didn’t expect it, activism is pretty intense and can be really draining, especially if it is something that you really are passionate about. I went into this project thinking “yeah I can get this done by myself”, but I realized I would have burnt out and I really needed my other group members.

My view on activism has changed since I realized social media can be a source of activism, but if your actions don’t reflect what you post (i.e. talk the talk but don’t walk the walk), then that’s not activism. This project helped me see that I’m an activist. I try to make conscious daily choices (i.e. I don’t eat at Chic-fil-a, I try not use accessible doors/elevators since I am physically able-bodied, I’m an out LGBT RA, etc..), which even if small, matter. Also, I’m not perfect in my activism and that’s okay. There isn’t a perfect activist since mistakes happen, like forgetting to use that reusable cup, but as long as you try to live your life in recognizing your own privileges, fighting against your own oppressions, and highlighting the voices of those oppressed as well as effectively being an ally, then that is what being an activist is.

Alex: One of the biggest things that changed about my relationship to activism was the understanding that activism is an everyday thing– it’s part of who you are and the decisions you make on a daily basis, not just on the occasions that you are able to attend protests or join campaigns for a certain cause. Over the course of the project, I learned how important communication is to a successful project. The importance of communication is something that I knew in theory going into the project, but in practice consistent communication is a lot more difficult to maintain. Fortunately we were able to work out a fairly good system, but I do think that in future projects one of the things that I would emphasize is communication between group members because our project went so much more smoothly when everyone was kept in the loop.

GSA Creation in MD Schools: Supporting LGBTQ Youth

GLSEN NSCS

Click here to learn more about the experiences of LGBT youth in school!

According to the 2013 National School Climate Survey (www.glsen.org/nscs), conducted by The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 55.5% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and nearly 40% feel unsafe because of their gender identity. Nearly 3 out of 4 students report being verbally harassed in the past year, and about 1 in 6 were physically assaulted because of sexual orientation. 61.6% of students who reported an incident said that school staff did nothing in response. Almost 1/3 missed at least one entire day of school due to feelings of unsafety.  These statistics support a clear conclusion: schools are unsafe and unwelcoming for LGBTQ students. GLSEN’s mission is to work towards safe spaces in school for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Continue reading

Activism and its Influence on My Career Path

downloadIt seems cliché to say that I never thought I would have an impact on the youth of my community, especially as a teenager myself. When I came out as queer in the spring of my sophomore year in high school, my (thankfully accepting) mother asked me if I wanted to go to a “support group” of sorts. Desperate to meet other LGBTQIA people my age and to wax and wane about the struggles that came with being openly out in the microcosmic world of high school, I vehemently agreed. This group, the Rainbow Youth Alliance, met during the weekly meetings of the Columbia chapter of PFLAG, or the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. As I continued to attend these meetings, I came to realize how many teens made the half-hour trek from the Towson area, a particularly difficult task if one did not have a car and/or accepting parents. Since I also made this trip every Tuesday, I decided to do something about it.

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Public Mental Health and Sexual Minorities

For my activism project, I decided to attempt to make Baltimore Crisis Response (BCRI) a more queer- and trans-friendly public mental health provider. I have worked at Baltimore Crisis Response for a number of years as a counselor.

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Adventures in Potty Training

As with any situation one must always acknowledge their own privileges, including those that are hard to recognize. As members of the cisgender community it was difficult to understand the daily issue that arises for the gender queer community in terms of what bathroom to use. Before the commencement of this project, others, such as members of QUMBC and Lee Calizo, Director of Student Life, had already begun to tackle this issue on UMBC’s campus to provide a safe space for those who did not feel comfortable in our gendered bathrooms. Since Fall 2011 the first pair of gender neutral bathrooms were set up in the Commons’ lower level, one located near the Yum Shoppe and the Women’s Center; the other located at the bottom of the steps on the same level. Continue reading

Religious Queeries: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Stress

This semester I wanted to leave one last love letter to UMBC.

As a graduating senior, this program was to be that letter, the first of its kind at UMBC, and I wanted it to succeed. I chose to create, coordinate and implement a campus wide program that partnered with six campus organizations and five off campus institutions to address the intersectionality of faith and sexual identity. I had to coordinate competing tasks, maintain strong lines of communication with various constituencies, and build ties to the surrounding Baltimore community.

It was one of the most overwhelming projects I have ever undertaken.

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Helping Others through First Hand Experiences

paper chain people

When the word “activists” came to mind in high school I only viewed it as someone who was consistently active in a certain cause and for someone who wanted change; someone “not” like me. My personal story begins when I first came out as a gay teen my junior year in high school. I went through a year of depression where my parents were not supportive with my “decision”, something that had drastic effects on my relationship with them, and my academic standing. I had no one to really go to who I felt that could truly understand what I was going through at the time, since I only had straight friends. Continue reading