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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Queer Sphere: Being an LGBTQ student at Western

Western Front Reporter Ashley Lambe discusses what it’s like to be queer at Western and reviews the university’s overall acceptance of LGBTQ people.

 

When I first received my acceptance letter to Western, I didn’t realize what a difference the University would make in my life.

High school had been a difficult time for me. While certainly not antagonistic toward members of the LGBTQ spectrum, a lot of students used to taunt me about being a lesbian.

For years, I had muttered phrases like “I’m not gay, I just…” or “I don’t like girls, I like…”

I was simply terrified that they would be right, and that the taunts would get worse if they found out.

And when I finally admitted to the world (or at least Facebook) that I was in a relationship with another woman, those same people who made jibes about me being gay in high school commented that they had indeed predicted it all along.

Never mind the fact that I had explicitly mentioned still being interested in men. It didn’t matter.

For me, my high school was no longer my community. Western had accepted me with open arms, and I personally felt like I didn’t have to be afraid of who I was.

LGBTQ 1An anonymous poll conducted on the WWU Queer Club Facebook page indicated that of 19 people that took the survey, 16 people felt that Western had a safe environment for LGBTQ people. Sixteen people also said that they felt accepted by Western students.

Do you feel accepted at Western?

View Results

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LGBTQ2

It would seem that I’m not the only one feeling embraced by the community.

Do you feel that Western is welcoming to the LGBTQ community?

View Results

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Matthew Olson, an Industrial Design student and member of the Facebook page, said that he hadn’t felt or noticed many problems.

“I’m not connected much to the community, but I feel fine on campus.”

Olson, who came to Western from the Midwest, also said that the area in general felt more accepting to LGBTQ people.

However, he did point out that some people, namely professors, can occasionally feel dismissive toward LGBTQ students with different outlooks, which Olson said could be considered valuable considering our different backgrounds and experiences.

“It’s not intentional,” Olson said. “It’s something that’s not even thought through. It’s something that might be said or implied.”

Olson’s point is interesting to note, as three respondents mentioned not feeling accepted at Western. While Olson and myself may feel comfortable on campus, that doesn’t mean that everyone on campus should feel that way.

Matthew Olson notes that sometimes people in the Western community can be dismissive toward LGBTQ student's outlooks.
Matthew Olson notes that sometimes people in the Western community can be dismissive toward LGBTQ student’s outlooks.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as LGBTQ student, it is that one person does not speak for a community.

And if Western does one thing, even if it isn’t proper treatment of its LGBTQ students, it’s that it lets student voices be heard.

So how do you feel about Western’s LGBTQ community? What do you think the campus, whether it’s students, faculty, or resources, needs to work on for its LGBTQ students?

Western’s Queer Club Facebook page can be found here.

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