How Do I?
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual Resource Center - A Welcoming Place
(During Crafternoon at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center in the Student Community Center on the UC Davis campus, (from left) UC Davis students Nico Reynoso, Sarah Hernandez and Yesi Aelar create sock puppets. Photo by Karin Higgins/UC Davis)
From its new home in the Student Community Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center (LGBTRC) offers programs and services that create a welcoming campus environment for LGBT people.
"The center itself is a safe space to hang out, use the computers and library, and watch videos," says Director Sheri Atkinson. "It's a place of community building."
Anyone is welcome to use the center's library to explore identity-related issues or for research papers.
Atkinson; Leanne Soter, interim office coordinator; Elizabeth Krause, assistant director; and the student interns oversee many activities, including four awareness weeks:
- Pride Week offers educational, entertaining and interactive events that focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer issues and other intersecting identities.
- Trans Action Week is a week of education and awareness on issues that impact Transgender people and helps create a more positive campus climate.
- Intersex Awareness Week features workshops and speakers that educate on issues that impact people who identify as Intersex.
- Beyond the Binary is a week of educational and engaging events on issues impacting the bisexual community.
The LGBTRC's three-hour Safe Zone training, offered twice per quarter, is a popular workshop that raises awareness about LGBT issues.
"People who complete the Safe Zone training are given the option of receiving a certificate of completion to display and a button to wear," Atkinson says. "These help make safe zones visible to LGBT people to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus."
The center also offers a two-hour Transgender Safe Zone workshop. Krause also works with student peer educators who conduct training in the residence halls.
"In addition, I talk one-on-one with students and staff on a range of issues around identity," Atkinson said, "and make sure people get referred to the appropriate resource."
The LGBT Resource Center shares a community counselor, Jezzie Fulmen, with the Women's Resources and Research Center. Jezzie holds office hours at both centers and is available for students.
Atkinson is encouraged by the increase in awareness among incoming students of LGBT issues, yet she still hears from students who experience homophobia. She cites instances of students relating classroom situations in which another student makes a homophobic comment that goes unaddressed by the TA or faculty member and mentions that sometimes it's the TA or faculty member that makes a homophobic remark, underscoring the need for continuing to raise awareness and provide education.
As the LGBTRC director, Atkinson advocates on behalf of the campus's LGBT community on an institutional and systemwide level. "In the past, issues were more tangible, such as domestic partnership benefits, sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination clauses," Atkinson says. "Discrimination issues are often more subtle now. Homophobia still exists in our society and on our campus, however at UC Davis we have a strong LGBT community and allies that work to create a more inclusive campus community."
Atkinson has noticed an increase in the number of prospective students researching the resources campuses have to offer the LGBT community. During campus tours, students and parents come by the center to ask about the campus climate to make decisions on where they chose to go to college.
The center, founded in 1992 on a recommendation by the Chancellor's Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, added "Transgender" to its title two years later and, in 1999, hired its first full-time coordinator so it could more broadly serve the campus community.