You’re a student considering coming to UT. As a member of the LGBTQ community, choosing a university with an inclusive and supportive environment is important to you. When you tour the campus, you want to learn more about resources for LGBTQ students, but beyond a brief mention of the Gender and Sexuality Center, you learn little about UT’s community.
You’re worried about coming to campus next year without resources, but you’re also worried about your future classmates. Do they know about your community? Will you have to brace yourself for stares and uncomfortable questions?
UT campus tours are relatively short and serve a variety of prospective students. However, if touring students were provided with written information about the LGBTQ community and resources for LGBTQ students at UT, all students could benefit. Providing students with information about the LGBTQ community both at large and on campus would ensure LGBTQ students feel welcomed and supported at UT and all students know how to be respectful toward their peers, no matter their sexual orientation.
Director of visitor services James Tolleson said while all tour guides are required to mention the Gender and Sexuality Center on tours with prospective students, how much information is offered about the center and its resources depends on the tour guide and student interest.
“If we have a tour guide that’s particularly engaged in the LGBTQ community, they may talk a little bit more about the GSC and what it provides,” Tolleson said. “It also depends on the interests of students themselves. If they’re interested, they can go up to the guide and ask questions and open up a dialogue.”
Plan II and philosophy freshman Sloan Touchet said he learned little about UT’s resources for LGBTQ students on his campus tour, even after asking about the Gender and Sexuality Center.
“The closest thing that I got when I was touring campus was a brief mention of the Gender and Sexuality Center, and I had to prompt it,” Touchet said.
Among the many pamphlets and papers students receive when touring campus, UT should include information about the LGBTQ community at UT as well as the LGBTQ community as a whole.
Touchet said while the Gender and Sexuality Center can be a useful resource for students exploring their gender and sexuality, he had to search for a community of LGBTQ students on his own.
“If you want a safe space at UT that is a part of a marginalized community, you have to find it for yourself,” Touchet said.
Students who identify as LGBTQ are often tasked with searching for and creating resources for LGBTQ students on campus. However, LGBTQ students are also expected to shoulder the responsibility of teaching others about their identities.
“Cis(gender) people have made it my responsibility to inform them about trans issues, and I do it because I know if I don’t, they’re not going to get the information anywhere else and it’s going to get worse,” Touchet said.
Touchet said constantly providing students with information about LGBTQ issues is emotionally exhausting.
Providing all touring students with information about the LGBTQ community would lessen the load for LGBTQ students and promote an environment of inclusion.
“I love UT so much — I really do — but I’m tired,” Touchet said.
Prospective LGBTQ students deserve more than a cursory reference to the Gender and Sexuality Center. All students should have the opportunity to learn about LGBTQ issues and inclusive resources. The burden to find a safe space on campus and teach others how to respect it shouldn’t fall on students’ shoulders.
Zaksek is a Plan II and women’s and gender studies freshman from Allen.