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LGBT resources on campus to be addressed this semester

Elizabeth Castillo

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Chico State’s campus has already implemented gender-neutral bathrooms in many buildings on campus with plan to add more in the future.

This semester, Chico State hopes to improve LGBT resources on campus after receiving three out of five stars on a national ranking.

The Campus Pride Index evaluates colleges based on a variety of LGBT inclusion factors.

Some members of the LGBT communities on campus experience issues with inclusiveness on a daily basis. Chico State needs to improve its score by adding more LGBT resources on campus, said Kory Masen, trans program development intern for the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center.

“We need a guide to help trans students navigate Chico State because it’s a hostile environment,” he said.

This semester, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion hopes to take a closer look at the issues affecting the LGBT communities on campus.

Tray Robinson, Office of Diversity and Inclusion director, personally filed the form for Chico State’s Campus Pride Index and was given recommendations for improvements on campus.

“We’re fortunate that we have an administration that is supportive of LGBTQ issues,” Robinson said. “That’s not the case at many other campuses.”

In an effort to increase its score, Chico State is implementing more LGBT resources on campus and improving the ones already in place.

Gender-inclusive bathrooms

“Imagine being a community that needs a how-to guide to navigate where to go to the bathroom,” Masen said.

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Kory Masen, trans program development intern for the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center, has experienced situations of inequality due to his gender identity.

Robinson held a social with students from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities on Oct. 13. He asked students about their concerns as students in Chico. An idea that was proposed was to create a map of gender-inclusive bathrooms in town.

A gender-inclusive bathroom is a facility that can be used by a person regardless of their gender identity. The restroom is typically a single-person stall.

“If you’re downtown having something to eat, where in the community can you go to for a gender-inclusive bathroom?” he said. “I thought that was brilliant.”

Robinson hopes to provide a map of inclusive facilities in the community soon. A map of such bathrooms on campus is available online.

Inclusive facilities were installed in the Bell Memorial Union in 2014. The new arts and humanities building on campus, formerly Taylor Hall, will have gender neutral bathrooms installed with the completion of the building.

Future construction projects should have facilities automatically included in the blueprints, Robinson said. Students won’t need to request the addition of these bathrooms but the remodeling of older bathrooms on campus has been successful as well.

Faculty sensitivity training

While the campus continues to add inclusive resources at Chico State, for some students, more work needs to be done.

Masen experienced several occurrences where he felt personally attacked as a trans student. He still needs to complete a math class because of an experience when a professor refused to call him by the name he preferred.

“I hadn’t changed my name legally so the university was doing nothing to help me,” he said.

Faculty already participates in training geared toward LGBT sensitivity. Professors can participate in safe zone training but it isn’t mandatory, Robinson said. Legal issues regarding the rights of faculty have kept this training voluntary.

Students have asked for more faculty training on campus to ensure professors understand the importance of using preferred pronouns. Robinson has facilitated discussions in the past with faculty regarding sensitivity toward trans students.

“I’ve had to unfortunately deal with some of those situations which have turned out positive,” Robinson said. “We were able to educate the faculty members about why it’s important that he use the proper pronouns that a student would like to be used.”

He plans on meeting with different departments on campus to facilitate change. Some departments that can provide more inclusive services to LGBT students include athletics, student health services and the counseling center.

“In counseling and wellness, the Index asked if we offered support groups for LGBTQ students,” he said. “We didn’t, but now we do so that would improve our score.”

A group of staff members on campus also volunteer their time to the Transgender Task Force. The organization helps to create awareness of gender diversity on campus and creates a transgender-inclusive community, according to its mission statement.

“The Transgender Task Force has managed to do a lot of advocating on this campus,” Masen said. “These people are not being compensated for their work. It is completely voluntary just for the sake of making this environment safer for trans students.”

The organization is composed of staff members from the counseling center and the department of health and community services. The Task Force has helped Masen solve issues he faced as a trans student on campus.

Other departments on campus continue to provide more resources for LGBT students. Beginning in the fall of 2016, the admissions office will allow applicants to indicate if they identify as LGBT, Robinson said.

He believes the option will allow Chico State to learn more about LGBT resources students need and inform incoming students of the services available on campus. This indication will be implemented across CSU campuses, Robinson said.

Although Chico State’s Campus Pride Index can improve, Robinson wants to assure students that LGBT resources on campus continue to grow.

“We’re looking at what we can implement as an institution to create change,” he said. “We encourage people to be themselves on our campus and we continue to promote inclusivity.”

Elizabeth Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or @ElizabethC718 on Twitter.

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LGBT resources on campus to be addressed this semester