Here to Stay, Here to Say
An Interview series with LGBTI Students
As we have progressed as a society LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) people have been increasingly more accepted by main stream society. We’ve come a long way but even as far as we have come there is still a long way to go for LGBT people to feel safe and respected Two self-identifying students allowed me to ask them some questions and help me gain insight into various other experiences of LGBTI students. I sat down with two different students and asked them a few questions about their experience as an LGBTI student.
Meet Our Interviewees
Let Me Introduce Myself…
As an LGBTI Student is it important for you to feel as though your university understands the diversity of its students?
Katie: I do, but only as far as I find it important in any company or establishment that they understand and support the LBGTI consumer or student base. Universities do have a duty of care to there students and I have seen some really great support coming from CSU.
Marc: Yeah, I think a lot of universities and colleges do a lot in terms of making their diverse or minority students feel welcome. I have a few friends that go to different Uni’s and I have heard them mention that their Uni is particularly cool about it.
Does your university have any sort of association or special support system for LGBTI students? Have you accessed these services?
Marc: My college doesn’t as far as I know of, I think though its probably more of an issue of funding because of the much smaller size of Endeavour than UWS or UNSW for example. They do provide counselling services and I can’t imagine that gay or transgender students wouldn’t be able to express their concerns to them. That being said would you access that kind of service if it were available?. Um, maybe, I haven’t in the past so I cant say from past experience but potentially yeah.
Katie: CSU does have a program called LGBTI Uni Guide which does help educate both LGBTI students and allies, I think clubs are different on different campuses. I haven’t gone to any meetings or counselling since I’ve started uni, although I have friends who have. I probably would use those services if I felt it was necessary for me, I remember my friend had a pretty good experience.
It was a little disappointing to me to discover that Marc did not have any sort of service that he could access specifically for LGBTI students, although this is the reality for many students that go to smaller colleges. Hopefully Endeavour will one day design services that assist their LGBTI students. It interested me to hear of CSU’s LGBTI Uni Guide, it seemed like a very unique service that also had information for students that do not identify as LGBTI to learn and educate themselves on LGBTI issues.
Have you found that fellow students are accepting of your identity and the identity of other LGBTI students?
Katie: Yeah everyone I’ve met living on campus has been very accepting, but I likely wouldn’t hang around people who did have an issue with it though. Other gay students that I’ve spoken to feel the same way as far as I know, I wouldn’t know so much about transgender students but I hope they would be able to say the same.
Marc: Most everyone i’ve spoken to have never had an issue with it or even so much as brought it up with me. I think people of my generation, Millennials I guess, are far more accepting than previous generations. I still do think that at times my peers do behave in ways that are homophobic or transphobic, I normally don’t say anything in that sort of situation because I fear the potential confrontation that could potentially occur if I did.
This seems to be a common sentiment among many LGBTI students that I have met, many believe that while they study or live with very accepting people it can be hard when their peers do act in a way that is not accepting. Many students, myself included, feel uncomfortable speaking up in this sort of situation.
Do you think events such as Mardi Gras have a positive impact?
Katie: I’ve never attended an offical pride event like Mardi Gras but I do think its an awesome celebration of our community and I would love to be a part of it in the future. I’ve been to some Mardi Gras themed parties on campus but i’m not really sure that’s the same thing, but even so it does have the connection of being a celebration of LGBTI people.
Marc: I went to my first Mardi Gras this year and honestly had the time of my life, I was really touched by the whole event it meant so much to me to see so many people proud to be who they are, it was particularly helpful because I did struggle quite a lot to accept who I am when I first really learned and accepted that I was gay.
Interviewing Katie and Marc was quite enlightening, even though some of the answers were as expected it is always interesting to compare and contrast the experiences of LGBTI people. Universities are often very accepting of their diverse students and excellent to see that many students are satisfied with their institutions service, while it is disappointing that some don’t have such services looking towards the future possibilities for colleges such as Endeavour is exciting. An increasing number of students feel comfortable with who they and are proud to live freely and learn in safe environments.