The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center works to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for UNC-Chapel Hill community members of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. We address this mission by allocating our resources across three broad areas:
Programs, services, and advocacy efforts are guiding by an intersectional social justice framework. This framework recognizes that people experience the world in very different ways depending on the constellation of identities they hold and the ways that those identities are privileged and/or marginalized by the existing institutional structures and societal norms.
The Center provides a number of various educational and multicultural competency training programs to the University campus and surrounding communities. This includes programs such as Safe Zone, a program designed to create a network of visible allies who are knowledgeable about the impacts of heterosexism, strategies to disrupt heterosexism, and resources for people on topics related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. In addition to Safe Zone, the Center provides tailored trainings for university departments, classrooms, student organizations, and community partners. Examples of topics include multicultural competency in LGBTIQA communities in K-12 educational settings, university settings, mental health settings, health care settings, legal issues, and youth development.
The Center sponsors and co-sponsors speakers, film presentations, educational events, and other performances designed to raise awareness and educate the campus and community about a variety of topics. Sometimes these events are targeted to LGBTQ-identified people specifically (e.g., the Healthy Relationships programs) and sometimes these events are designed to address topics relevant to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions (e.g., a speaker who addresses the simultaneous and intersecting impacts of racism, disability, and heterosexism across various identity groups).
The Center also assists with the main academic mission of UNC-CH be serving as a community partner for the APPLES Service Learning Program. Faculty who are teaching APPLES courses provide opportunities of practical application of concepts related to course content. Students who have APPLES placements at the Center typically spend three (3) hours per week for ten (10) weeks working on a program of or a project for the Center. Examples of the types of programs or projects include the creation of professional-quality educational brochures, co-facilitation or lead facilitation of educational programs, or development of videos for use in educational programs.
The LGBTQ Center maintains a resource library with approximately 1200 holdings (books, audio, and brochures). Anyone with a PID number can check out these holdings (brochures are available for free and do not have to be returned). Research has indicated that people who are early in the ‘coming out’ process are more likely to utilize and check out books/materials when they are available through a facility that is known to be welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ persons and in which their confidentiality from non-LGBTQ people is protected. Resources are also available on smoking cessation, alcohol use and cessation, relationship violence, healthy relationships, LGBTQ community organizations, welcoming and affirming religious/spiritual organizations, and safer sex practices.
The Center provides direct social and developmental support programs and services primarily targeted to the needs and interests of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The Center also coordinates several programs designed to address identity development, leadership development, and employment skills development. Many programs and services are available to faculty, staff, postdoctoral, fellows, and alumni as well through their involvement as volunteers, mentors, or participants in programs. Direct support programs include the LGBTQ Center resource library, Q Group, Trans Talk Tuesday, Drop in Support Hours, and individual meetings with the Director or Assistant Director.
Q group meets weekly and are targeted to needs of individuals who are addressing identity development regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; wanting to learn how to deal with their own feelings about and be supportive to someone they know in that identity development process; addressing intersections of identity that are of concern in their identity development process (e.g., conflicts among their religious beliefs, racial/ethnic identity, and sexual orientation); or simply wanting to get connected to LGBTQ A communities on campus or in the community.
Trans Talk Tuesday is a peer support/discussion group for people who identify as transgender, intersex, or genderqueer. This space is meant to provide community and connection among folks on the basis of gender identity. The group is open to campus and community members that identify as transgender (in any respect), intersex, genderqueer, or who are questioning their gender identity or gender expression. This space is not meant to be an educational space—if a person is interested in learning more about these topics, but does not identify as part of these communities, they are referred to educational programs such as Safe Zone Challenge.
Drop-in Support Hours are weekly opportunities for students to have one-to-one, private conversations at the LGBTQ Center with counselors from Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS) about topics related to sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Examples of topics students may discuss include relationship or dating concerns, family of origin relationships, identity development (e.g., coming out, identity synthesis) and other areas where an individual may need support. While the counselors are available to have private conversations, provide support, and provide resources drop-in support hours are not intended to be (nor should they be used as) individual therapy sessions.
The Center’s two full-time professional staff members serve on numerous Student Affairs committees as well as University wide, interdepartmental committees. Through participation on these committees, the Center staff members advocate for inclusive policies, practices, and procedures as well as for program and service designs that are inclusive of people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Examples of this kind of committee work include participation on committees such as the Student Affairs Inclusion and Accessibility Theme Team, Department of Housing and Residential Education Cultural Competency Committee, the Diversity Education Team, and the Provost’s Committee on LGBT Life.
In addition to advocacy through committee participation, Center staff members also are available to support University staff, faculty, students, and alumni who are experiencing marginalization, harassment, discrimination or other negative situations due to their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Center staff can assist individuals in reporting negative experiences and or mediating discussions with individuals and/or supervisors involved in the situation. As staff members recognize any patterns regarding these types of incidents they make suggests about education and training opportunities that might be useful for that department, organization, or area as well as recommendations regarding policy or procedural changes.