SOU’s Gender Inclusive Culture

Like many college students, my days are usually hectic…to say the least. In addition to a full course load, I am in the beginning stages of running my own business and raising my two children. I have everyday struggles like everyone else. However, I also get to live my life with a certain amount of privilege.

As a cisgender heterosexual woman, I have never experienced discrimination for my gender or sexual identity. I happen to fit into a socially accepted binary which allows me to go about my crazy, hectic days with one less worry. This is not the case for some very close friends and family members of mine. I have watched friends and family suffer in ways that vary from subtle undertones in a person’s words, to overt discriminatory behavior. While those dealing with discrimination have to experience it in nearly every aspect of their life, one place they should never have to come face to face with it is on their college campus.

I spent two years studying in the mid-west where the campus did not have any club, resource center, or commitment to inclusivity. I watched people in the LGBTQ* community struggle with the discrimination and rejection of their peers and staff members on campus. Universities are a place to grow as an individual and become educated in the world around you, which makes it an essential place for those who attend to feel safe and worthy. Because of this, I have grown a great appreciation for my university. As I have come to spend the majority of my time on campus at Southern Oregon University, I have found a comfort in the abundant resources and commitment to inclusivity shown by SOU.

Southern Oregon University maintains a strong culture of inclusivity for all students but especially for those in the LGBTQ* community. Staff members have quality training on pronoun usage in the classroom, they support and often lead rallies and protests based around creating inclusive spaces, they even have trans inclusive bathrooms on campus. By hosting LGBTQ* safe space activities, it allows everyone to join and feel safe, even just for those students who wish to show support.

SOU also has a Queer Resource Center for students where they can receive support, empowerment, and other services designed to give a positive experience on campus.

The Queer Resource Center of Southern Oregon University aims to provide visible and accessible advocacy for the needs of queer students while expanding awareness and knowledge of queer issues on campus and in the community.

While the resource center is specifically designed to aid students in the LGBTQ* community, they proudly welcome all students to access, visit, and utilize the resources. The Queer Resource Center is also a place where students can sit to study or meet new people.

Creating a strong culture of inclusivity for students is essential in places designed for education and growth. Although not all university campuses are as progressive as SOU, I am hopeful that others will follow their lead. I want to know that my children, my friends, and my fellow students enjoy the same privileges that I do while getting our education. If you’re a current student at SOU and haven’t been down to visit the QRC, stop by and say hello! Show your support for these programs to keep them up and running!

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