Dear Campus Community:
The University of Maryland Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity extends its sympathies in the recent tragedies and incidents affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth communities and their allies nationwide. While many difficult incidents never make it to mainstream media, a few news items regarding anti-LGBTQ bias and harassment in higher education have hit top headlines in the past week. We recognize that nationally prominent media events affect our students locally, and that hatred and ignorance based on an entire category of bias has an effect on the whole community, and feelings of comfort and safety.
These news stories included one about Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student who jumped to his death after his roommate secretly filmed and broadcast online video of him during a “sexual encounter” with another male in his residence hall room. In a different news item at the University of Michigan, the openly gay student government president, Chris Armstrong, was stalked and harassed by an online blogger. There were at least seven other completely different news stories about LGBTQ youth suicide or harassment in education environments in the past few weeks.
We affirm that equality in education is a human right. We strive to keep the university an open and supportive place. Thus, the University of Maryland has created resources and policies that foster a vibrant learning environment that includes students, faculty, and staff of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Making sure that every student in the residence halls feels included in residence life is a top priority. Should you or someone you know feel excluded, contact your Resident Assistant and Resident Director. Further, the university takes all stalking, threats, and bias incidents seriously. Such concerns should be reported immediately to University Police. Finally, there are resources on campus to help you direct your concerns, answer your questions, or to find a space to discuss or respond to some of these recent news events. We invite you to make use of these resources and to encourage your friends to do so as well.
UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENTS AND SERVICES
Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity, a go-to point of contact for faculty, staff, and students
Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy, a resource for student organizations, student leaders, and student involvement in diversity
Counseling Center, through regular appointments or through the Rainbow Walk-In Hour (Mondays through Thursdays 3pm-4pm)
Mental Health Services at the University Health Center
STUDENT INITIATIVES AND PEER-FACILITATED DISCUSSIONS
Safe Space, a weekly peer-facilitated discussion group focusing on issues of coming out, identity, and transitioning, Tuesdays at 7:30pm, 0102 Armory
Community Roots, a student organization, is running a series of events called “Month of Fear” featuring an event on homophobia, Thursday, October 7, 6pm, 1112 Hornbake Library (OMSE)
It Gets Better – UMD on Facebook, a student campaign specifically to respond to these recent media events
Again, if you have any questions, information to share, or concerns, we encourage you to contact our office.
Luke Jensen, Director
Nick Sakurai, Associate Director
Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity
University of Maryland, College Park
0119 Cole Student Activities Building