For those that attend, college can be a pivotal time in young adulthood. During those years, people work to formulate their identity for the first time away from the shadow of their parents, and many of the ideas they may have known as “truth” may be challenged. In the case of LGBTQ students, college can often be the time when they not only learn who they are, but learn that it is ok to be who they are. Studies at a supportive, LGBTQ-inclusive university can make all the difference in the world to someone taking this life journey.
Luckily the city of Houston has a pioneer institution when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, and they have been nationally recognized as such. The University of Houston was recently named one of ‘7 Brave LGBT Campuses in the South’ by The Advocate magazine. Here’s more from The Advocate on why they chose to highlight UH…
This past year the University of Houston student senate passed the Josephine Tittsworth Act. The student bill is an attempt to address the safety concerns of transgender people on campus. The bill allows transgender students to use their proper name, title, and gender when completing official university documents.
Today the university boasts a full-service LGBT Resource Center with a program director, student staff, a large selection of annual programming, and an LGBT studies program. As stated, the mission of the center is “to launch the next generation of healthy, proud, academically successful LGBTQ citizens, leaders and advocates.” Some of the center’s key programs include a Peer Mentoring Program to help assist newly LGBTQ-identifying students, a speakers bureau, and a brown bag social lunch to help foster relationships between students and faculty. Programs for faculty and staff include the Cougar Ally Training on LGBTQ issues as well as multiple Cougar Ally Lunch ‘N’ Learns, which provide discussions on select LGBTQ issues.
When informed of the news, UH Student Senator James Mateo Lee had this comment…
I’m happy that the work of the University of Houston Student Government Association has been recognized and I think it really shows the impact a small group of students can have. Many of the reasons UH has become more inclusive and welcoming of the LGBT community have been because of small groups of students who have pushed for action from our leaders. It’s a clear indication that even in the South, we can make change happen.
Furthermore, I think this really shows the type of impact student government can have if we work hard and act professionally. This is what student government should aim to do, we shouldn’t be starting public fights with our allies in the Texas Senate like the current SGA president has done.
Lee, along with other University of Houston student leaders and alumni, also played an integral role in the recent passage of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance by giving testimony at Houston City Council, lobbying Council Members before the vote, and organizing support within the community.
In 2008, UH became the first university in Texas to offer an LGBT studies minor, and the program has remained popular ever since. With support from all levels of the campus community, students can definitely find a place to belong at UH.