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Begins in center
may 16, 2018 vol. 9 // issue 20
Your g u to Flor ide idaâ€™s
C O L L E G E L I F E intro
Welcome to our breakdown of Florida's
LGBT-FRIENDLY COLLEGES Ryan Lynch
here are not a lot of gathered resources on what the best LGBT accessible colleges are in the nation, especially in
Florida. It can be hard to find what college is the most accepting when it comes to LGBT communities or what kind of programs a college offers. So we decided to break that down. We looked at all 12 state universities, as well as some of the largest private and community colleges in the state. We looked at which schools had an LGBT center by them, what kind of organizations they had on campus, as well as which had some
type of gender-neutral housing policy. We also looked at local laws against discrimination as well as the communities that surround these colleges. Besides those factors, we looked at what are some of the best classes on LGBT topics in universities. We looked at some of the best scholarships as well, including ones from in state as well as nationally. What follows is a one-of-a-kind guide, one that you wonâ€™t see anywhere else. We hope you can find that useful as you use this to find what college fits your LGBT needs.
Florida International University
A queer studies program, along with access to one of the largest gay communities.
University of South Florida
One of the oldest LGBT student groups in the state and a major university position that makes campus more LGBT friendly.
University of Florida A variety of LGBT student organizations, including one for transgender and queer people of color.
For online ranking and for issue rankings: For our ranking, we took all 12 public universities and put them in order. To see how the schools compare to private universities and community colleges, go to SFGN.com.
Florida International University University of South Florida University of Florida University of Central Florida Florida State University Florida Gulf Coast University Florida Atlantic University New College of Florida University of West Florida University of North Florida Florida A&M Florida Polytechnic
*One extra point for queer studies
T = tied
C O L L E G E L I F E first place
Florida International University Jose Cassola
C O L L E G E L I F E section
lorida International University offers participation in several organizations, programs and workshops for LGBT students, staff and allies, including the MPAS LGBTQA Initiatives, Stonewall Pride Alliance, H. W. College of Medicine Gay-Straight Alliance and LGBTQA Mentors Program, among others.
The MPAS LGBTQA Initiatives, now in its sixth year, is part of the Department of Multicultural Programs and Services and the Division of Student Affairs at FIU. The campus department works closely with many organizations in the South Florida area. FIU has one fulltime staff member and two graduate students that are paid staff for the program. “We oversee all programs and initiatives at both the Biscayne Bay (north) and Modesto Maidique (south) campuses,” said Dr. Gisela Vega, associate director of the MPAS LGBTQA Initiatives, who was hired as the first fulltime staff member in 2012. “We are the first university or college in South Florida to hire a full-time staff person to work with our LGBTQA population.” Vega says the Stonewall Pride Alliance is FIU’s oldest student-run LGBTQA group on campus. It was started in 1991. While the group has been around for 27 years, Vega has advised this group on and off for about 20 years. “All of these programs and organizations have come about based on the need to advocate for the LGBTQ community,” said Richard Moreno, graduate assistant of the MPAS LGBTQA Initiatives at FIU. Moreno says it is important for the university to have a large visibility in the LGBT community. “Visibility is crucial in bringing about awareness and education for the LGBTQ community,” Moreno said. “We strive to create programming that represents FIU as a safer and more inclusive environment for LGBTQ students and a place where they can safely navigate their identities without fear of violence.” FIU takes part in several LGBT-related activities throughout the year, including Pride Month, National Coming Out Day and Miami Beach Gay Pride, of which the university has been a part of since the parade’s inception 10 years ago. Pride Month was created by the MPAS LGBTQA Initiatives. “We have a series of events that happen throughout the month to celebrate, educate and create awareness about the LGBTQA community,” Vega said. “Our office has a simple but clear motto: we S.A.V.E. our students. This acronym stands for student Support, Awareness, Visibility and Education. Pride encompasses all of these important aspects of everything we do.” The Lavender Graduation and Leadership Recognition dinner for graduating LGBT seniors took place Monday, April 23. FIU has had a Lavender graduation for almost 20 years. Vega said three years ago the university opened it
up to all high school and other college Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) graduating Photos courtesy of FIU MPAS LGBTQA Initiatives. seniors to rebrand it as the FIU Annual City-Wide Lavender Graduation and Recognition dinner. aside from attending conferences held on those campuses. “The Lavender Graduation has been essential in “Our collaboration is more focused on the LGBTQ providing students with the opportunity to celebrate with organizations around the area, like Pridelines, Aqua their community and be recognized for their achievements Foundation, TransSocial, etc.,” Moreno said. as LGBTQ students,” Moreno said. “For many trans On whether FIU is more LGBT inclusive than other students, they might have the opportunity to celebrate universities, Moreno said he can’t compare FIU to other their graduation with their name and identity recognized, Florida universities, but he said “there is always more to be which is why we create that space every year to ensure they done to make a campus more inclusive for LGBTQ students.” do have that opportunity.” Programs like Safe Zone and the LGBTQA Mentoring Both Vega and Moreno say they don’t know how large Program help “facilitate that inclusive environment,” their LGBT student population is compared to other Moreno said. The Safe Zone program is geared towards colleges and universities. developing awareness and training faculty and staff on “I know we are getting more LGBTQA students attending campus to assist and serve as resources and support FIU based on the services we are providing LGBTQA networks for the university’s LGBT community. students,” Vega said. “The size of the LGBTQ population The mentors program provides support, safety and at FIU isn’t something I can comment on. However, I can guidance to LGBT students and aims to match those safely assume the more students on campus the increased students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender likelihood there will be more LGBTQ students on campus,” and queer/questioning with members of the LGBT Moreno said. “Many students may still be questioning their faculty and staff. The student will receive support and identity or still withhold that information from others for encouragement from the faculty and staff member inside safety reasons.” and outside of the classroom. Moreno says FIU doesn’t often directly collaborate with Around 2015, FIU started to build more gender-neutral other Florida universities on LGBT-related issues or events bathrooms, but Moreno said “it is a heavy misconception that gender inclusive restrooms are only available for and used by transgender students. Gender inclusive restrooms on campus are needed everywhere regardless who is using them.” “We strive to create More recently, to further their commitment to LGBT programming that students, FIU piloted a program in Spring 2017 called the LGBTQA Ambassadors Program, which recently won the represents FIU as a safer and Outstanding Diversity Program award at the Student Life more inclusive environment for Awards, hosted by FIU’s Division of Student Affairs. “We felt there was a need to bring in LGBTQA students LGBTQ students and a place where they and focus on developing their leadership and professional can safely navigate their identities development through working with our office,” Moreno said. “Since [LGBTQA Ambassadors] is a new program, it is without fear of violence.” currently evolving and we have exciting changes coming to continue its success with our students. [This program is] - Richard Moreno graduate assistant of the MPAS just one more example of how we continue to fill the needs LGBTQA Initiatives at FIU of our LGBTQ student population as we continue to grow as a department.”
C O L L E G E L I F E second place
Tied for Second
University of Florida G
ainesville has landed on several “top” lists in recent years, including for livability and as a desirable city to visit. It has a lot going for it — almost endless outdoor and wildlife-style activities, and for a city of about 130,000, restaurants and bars for the biggest appetites and thirsts. And then there’s the University of Florida, of course. UF is one of the largest schools in the U.S. with a student enrollment surpassing 50,000. It also has an extremely active and engaged LGBTQ community, with many options for students of all stripes, acronyms and pronouns. Pride Awareness Month took place at the school in April, which organizers bill as “… the largest LGBT student-run event series in the nation.” Organizers at PAM ran at least 19 events throughout the month that addressed LGBT issues. Many of the events were celebratory in nature as well. SFGN lays out other options and departments at UF that exist for LGBTQ+ students and their allies here.
Multicultural and Diversity Affairs LGBTQ Affairs Division of student affairs Billy Huff (left) is the director of LGBTQ Affairs at the University of Florida. He is pictured with a supporter. Photo courtesy of Billy Huff.
OutLaw students at the 2017 Gainesville Pride parade. Photo courtesy of OutLaw.
When you consider that UF faculty, students and staff who identified as lesbian and gay were for the most part hidden until the early 1980s (because of homophobic attitudes on campus and prevailing attitudes throughout society in general) you could argue that things have come a long way. It’s this history and the “legacy of the infamous Johns Committee” that LGBTQ Affairs cites as part of the struggle LGBTQ students faced early on. The committee was in the State Senate. “[It] spent time between 1957 and the early 1960s at the University of Florida, attempting to identify persons who were thought to be homosexuals,” states the department’s website. “Homosexual behavior was illegal, and committee members also believed that such persons were reprehensible and should not be part of the University of Florida,” it states. Led by director Billy Huff and graduate assistant Maggie Anne Creegan, LGBTQ Affairs provides support, advocacy and education for LGBTQ students and the campus as a whole. Huff said the department launched in 2004. “We have a lot of programs and events — National Coming Out Day, National Transgender Day of Remembrance and Lavender Graduation,” he said. Huff and Creegan have 15 “student ambassadors” who help drive support for those services across campus. Their website has an extensive list of resources and programs for students to access, including for alumni, youth, and even undocumented LGBTQ+ students. LGBTQ Affairs also organizes closed discussion groups for new students on campus, who might be “new to or questioning their own identity,” as well as for QWEN — the Queer Women Empowerment Network; QAPID — the Queer Asian Pacific Islander Desi; and HLXQ — the Hispanic and LatinX Queers. The department hosts an LGBTQ+ speakers bureau and the Tamara Cohen LGBTQ Resource Library as well. For more: gbtq.multicultural.uf l.edu; email@example.com l.edu
Last year, the QTPOC commissioned a photo shoot which “[highlighted] queer/trans people of color and the dissonance associated with [its] multifaceted identities and being students at a primarily white institution.” Pictured is student Mustafa Hammad. Photo courtesy of QTPOC.
C O L L E G E L I F E second place
OUTGrad OUTGrad is the only other group on campus that falls under the purview of Huff and LGBTQ Affairs. The rest are student-run organizations. OUTGrad has been in operation since late 2014. It has 333 members on its Facebook group and counting. OUTGrad is described as for “any and everyone,” but it is essentially a group for LGBTQIA+ and allied graduate and post-doctorate students. It holds meetings, socials and discussion groups throughout the year. For more: gbtq.multicultural.uf l.edu; firstname.lastname@example.org l.edu
Pride Student Union The Pride Student Union is student-run. It regards its mission as: “… to support and educate members of the University of Florida, allies, and surrounding communities with regards to our community's issues and concerns.” PSU is looking out for a lot of those aforementioned acronyms. The group strives to provide and maintain an “open, safe and inclusive atmosphere” for LGBTQQIAAP students — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, allied and pansexual. The group is essentially broken down into social, educational and support categories, including the development of student leaders. PSU meets every Monday at 8 p.m. For more: facebook.com/ufpsu; email@example.com
Queer and Trans People of Color Collective This group is another collaborative one. It consists of queer, trans, two-spirit and gender nonconforming people of color throughout the black, indigenous, Desi, Asian and LatinX Diasporas. QTPOC Collective is a relatively new group, as it was founded in April 2017. The reason the group cites for its creation is “[We] were tired of having to suffer through systems of whiteness and oppression within existing LGBTQ spaces and the university as a whole.” It has about nine facilitators and meets every other Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more: qtpocollective.tumblr.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
OutLaw OutLaw at UF’s Levin College of Law is a group of LGBT+ members who “[advocate] for equal rights for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.” The group has its own “OutLaw Constitution,” holds elections (most recently in April 11) and has a faculty adviser. OutLaw’s public Facebook group has almost 200 members. Events include everything from backyard parties to hosting discussions about the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. The group is currently taking applications for “Lavender Law 2018” which takes place this summer. Lavender Law is an LGBTQ conference and career fair in New York City where attendees learn about legal affairs affecting the LGBTQ community. The UF Levin College of Law agreed to fund a one-year membership to the LGBT Bar, a round-trip flight, and living accommodations for four students for the August event. For more: facebook.com/groups/OutLawUF
C O L L E G E L I F E second place
Tied for Second
The University of South Florida Ryan Lynch
estled in the Tampa Bay area, the University of South Florida has quietly become one of the most LGBT friendly schools in the state. One of the biggest factors on this change is the President’s Committee on Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (CISOGI). This unique role to USF answers directly to the university president and suggests ways for the campus to be more LGBT friendly. In the most recent annual report by the position, ongoing goals included creating a cross-discipline LGBT studies initiative as a minor or certificate, increasing the awarded amount for the LGBT Alumni Scholarship and bringing a nationally renowned LGBT speaker to campus. As a diverse community, USF has several student organizations that cater to LGBT student needs. Those include Trans+ Alliance, a group that provides monthly support groups for transgender and gender nonconforming people, as well as the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance, which stands for People Respecting Individual Diversity and Equality. P.R.I.D.E is the longest continually run gay student organization in Florida since its founding in 1974. According to organization president Montana Swiger, the group provides educational and support meetings for LGBT individuals at the school and presentations on gender and sexuality stereotypes. “I would say P.R.I.D.E.’s most recent and proudest accomplishment would be the talent show we just put on last month,” they said. “Our annual talent show is a chance for everyone to have fun and express themselves in a
The Running of the Bulls in front of the University of South Florida’s Marshall Center. Photo credit: Rick DeBow.
“I would say P.R.I.D.E.’s most recent and proudest supportive environment and always accomplishment would be draws a crowd.” the talent show we just USF also has an LGBT and Allied Med Students organization, which put on last month.” provides info on the most LGBT friendly
are in oversized collections,” Knight said. “When I started helping with the LGBT initiative in 2012, there were 400 books.” As for student records and medical schools and serves as a place where housing, both the Office of the - Montana Swige P.R.I.D.E Alliance President students can learn more about LGBT issues in Registrar and the Office of Housing and medicine. Residential Education provide services The school has taken steps to preserve LGBT that can help transgender students. Since history both in the area and internationally through the 2011, the Office of Housing can make arrangements for University Library’s Special Collection Department. transgender identifying students to live with a friend of According to the LGBT collection’s website, they have the same gender assigned at birth or in a single dorm, photographs and objects dating back to the 1930s to according to USF’s website. present day that have significance to the LGBT community. “It’s going to be really positive for a lot of trans people, “Donations to the collection are very common, and especially first-year students,” Taylor McCue, a transgender range from a phone call out of the blue from a patron student who helped create the policy, said at the time. “It who has seen our website, to follow-up visits after I have doesn’t mean the trans war has been won – you can’t win spoken at a local event or to a class,” Director of Special everything in one night. This is just part of the process for Collections Matthew Knight said. “These donations are changing things on campus.” usually monographs or archival/ephemeral materials. The Registrar can work so that a student who is going Quite often donors give us books in terrific shape because through a documented gender change can have their name they feel they will not be added to the shelves of any public and gender corrected on all USF documents. library.” As for other future improvements, Swiger said that USF Notably, all objects are readily available to view on the should look into making some type of student center for library’s website for those who are not in the area. Knight LGBT Students. said that the collection is always taking donations and will “I personally think the next important step for USF to accept them from both inside and outside the Tampa Bay take in fostering a thriving queer community would be area. beginning the groundwork for an LGBT student center, “At the moment we have 1,423 books in that collection, somewhere where all students can feel safe and welcomed but that does not count the hundreds or so books that in order to study, relax, and hang out,” they said.
C O L L E G E L I F E scholarships
TopToLGBT Scholarships Apply To Ryan Lynch
ollege doesn’t have to be the financial wall it seems to be, especially for LGBT students. With plenty of scholarships, there are many that appeal directly to LGBT students or allies within the community. Here are some of the best, both in state and nationally.
Stonewall Foundation Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship The Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship is a $1,500 to $3,000 scholarship available to LGBT women pursuing any degree from an accredited university. According to the Stonewall Foundation’s website, scholarships are given out based on academic success and community service, especially related to the LGBT community. Applications are accepted beginning in March 2018. For more information, contact scholarships @ stonewallfoundation.org.
League Foundation Scholarships The LEAGUE foundation awards scholarships from $2,500 to $4,000 for LGBT Students. According to the LEAGUE website, applicants must have a GPA of 3.0, be involved with their community and write two personal essays along with having two non-family references. The Foundation has three $4,000 awards and nine $2,500 awards, of which all applicants are considered for.Applications open in January and close in April. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Gamma Mu Foundation Scholarship The Gamma Mu Foundation offers scholarships to gay men in primarily rural or underserved areas. According to the Foundation’s website, the foundation looks for Students “who have overcome issues of discrimination and/or marginalization within their community” along with leadership experience and good grades. Applications are accepted from March 1 to 31 and students receive anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500, according to the Foundation’s website. All applications are for a scholarship of one year, with no repeat funding without another application. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Point Foundation Scholarship The Point Foundation offers scholarships to LGBT students nationally who are attending an accredited school for their graduate or master’s degrees. According to the foundation’s website, students must have a proven financial need, a history of leadership experience and be working in some way to “better the LGBT community.” Applicants must also be available to travel to “North or Central America on April 26-28 and be available to fly to Los Angeles in order to remain eligible for the scholarship,” with all of the expenses handled by Point. Applications begin on Nov. 1 and funding is dependent on an applicant's other financial aid. For more information, contact applications @ pointfoundation.org.
C O L L E G E L I F E scholarships
State Aqua Foundation For Women Scholarship The Aqua Foundation for Women’s scholarships are available to all LBTQ people who are attending college in Florida. According to the foundation’s website, applicants are required to have a 3.0 GPA, attend for the whole academic year and must be pursuing an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree at an accredited college. Students who are selected are required to meet with their mentor monthly and attend LBT leadership seminars in Miami, according to the foundation. Students are also required to complete a minimum of 10 service hours and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Applications to the program are accepted starting in April through their website. For more information, contact Robin Schwartz at robin@ aquafoundation.org.
A. Gordon Rose - Another View Scholarship Nova Southeastern University provides the A Gordon Rose - Another View scholarship to psychology majors at their school whose research involves the self and community acceptance of gay and lesbian individuals. According to Nova’s financial aid website, all applicants must be in good standing with the school and have research that deals with gay and lesbian acceptance. Two letters of recommendation (including one from an NSU course instructor) and a 500-word essay are also required. Applications are accepted until March 1. Interest in other gay and lesbian research topics will also be considered. For more information, contact Kirk Berner at email@example.com.
USF Alumni Association LGBT Scholarship The University of South Florida Alumni Association offers a $1,000 scholarship to students who have a “demonstrated financial need” and have created a “welcoming climate for all students, including those with different sexual orientation,” according to the Alumni Association’s website. According to the Alumni Association, applications are accepted starting in the fall semester of each academic year through the USF Alumni Association website. All students who apply must be a student at USF. For more information or to apply, contact Latoya Wider at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The 49 Fund The 49 Fund offers 10 scholarships of up to $4,900 to LGBT students in Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Lake, Sumter or Brevard Counties in central Florida. According to the 49 Fund website, Orlando business owner Barry Miller started the fund in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016. The $4,900 matches the 49 victims who were killed during the shooting. Students must also show financial need, write an essay on their impact in the local LGBT community, must have at least a 2.5 GPA and must be at least a part-time student (nine credits or more) seeking a degree at an accredited school, according to the fund’s website. Extra consideration is given to those who are a direct victim or the family of a direct victim in the shooting. Applications are accepted until deadlines set in March of each year. For more information, contact Daisy Franklin at email@example.com.
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C O L L E G E L I F E classes
Most Interesting LGBT Classes I
t can be hard finding classes that can offer a different gender perspective. Many schools don’t offer anything past a simple gender studies class for students. For interested students, there are more LGBT learning options out there at many of the state’s universities. We took out the guesswork and talked to the professors to show you some of the unique course options in the state.
Florida International University REL 4434: Religion and Queer Theory Florida International has a three-credit course on the intersection of faith and queer theory through its Religious Studies department. Whitney Bauman, a professor within the department, said that the class looks at much of the history of LGBT identities in religion and religious texts. The class also looks at present examples of the intersection of queer theory and religion. “This course is of interest to students pursuing degrees in other disciplines within the humanities, who want to gain a better grasp of the religious issues surrounding LGBTQI identities,” Bauman said in an email.
University of Miami WGS 305: Queer Studies The University of Miami offers queer studies, a class that dives deeper into the identities of LGBT people. Steven Butterman, a college of arts and sciences professor at the university, teaches about lesbian, gay and transgender identities with each unit of the class. At the final unit, students reflect on what they learned and how their expectations of queer theory changed. “In particular, it will explore how queer theories can articulate our understanding of key issues across a range of disciplines and how it intervenes in current debates over the meaning and validity of sexuality as a way of understanding human sexual desire, emotions, and behaviors,” Butterman’s class syllabus states. Butterman’s class also includes a “queer show and tell” where students bring in what they believe is their “most queer” and “least queer objects,” with sex toys excluded.
University of Florida PCO 4930: LGBT Psychology The University of Florida offers a three-credit class out of their School of Psychology about the psychology of LGBT people. Tyler Hatchell, a doctorate student in the college of psychology, will be teaching the course. Hatchell’s research is mainly about LGBT youth and the risk factors that affect their mental health, according to ResearchGate. “The focus will be on the nature of sexuality, gender, and expression,” Hatchell said in an email. “The mental health and treatment of sexual and gender diverse people will be another focus.”
University of South Florida IDS 2931: Intro to LGBTQ Culture At the University of South Florida, there is a one to three-credit class that explores what experiences LGBT people go through and how those experiences are shaped. Milton Wendland, a women’s and gender studies professor at USF, said that some course goals include exploring the history of LGBT people in the U.S. and how class, race and other factors shape the LGBT experience. According to Wendland, studying this allows students to give “context to past, current, and future struggles,” for the LGBT community. “Students are often fascinated to learn about the role WWII played in establishing nascent gay communities,” Wendland said in an email. “We try to always pay attention to how LGBTQ people also have racial, class, and other identities that touch on their LGBTQ identities.”
AML 4933/LIT 6934: Queer Film & TV Another class at USF is Queer Film and TV, which Wendland teaches as part of a rotating special topics class slot. The three-credit class has sections available to both master’s and bachelor’s students. The course addresses queer representation in tv and movies, as well as the concept of queer theory as it applies. “In Queer Film & TV we look especially at how sex, gender, and sexuality are presented in TV shows and movies and how that does or doesn’t match up with the world as we experience it – or want to experience it,” Wendland said. “We think about how a movie or TV show can be understood differently by different people.”