In the year 2020, many Stockton students have faced unprecedented challenges. Some of these issues disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ students, from the looming threat of the coronavirus pandemic, to the lack of social interaction with other Queer students, to anxiety over the current political climate. Now, Stockton’s Queer students are speaking out about the highs and lows of being an LGBTQ+ student in 2020.
According to The Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youths are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, due to a loss of positive social interactions, such as friends at school, and a high rate of negative social interactions, such as spending time in quarantine with an unsupportive family. Matthew, a bisexual-identifying junior, acknowledges that he is lucky, because he is “out” with his parents, and did not have to hold himself back during quarantine, but knows other students may face that struggle.
In the wake of the pandemic, with the majority of Stockton’s classes, club meetings, and events being moved to an online format, students are mourning the loss of a queer community on campus. Stockton’s LGBTQ+ community is traditionally able to connect through student organizations such as Pride Alliance, as well as through programming held by the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Center.
Anthony, a gay-identifying senior, said, “The only safe and effective way is to communicate online, and it isn’t really the same.” Gabby, a senior who identifies as biromantic and asexual, noted that, “You can’t really get that queer vibe from people through Zoom, you know?” Many other students agreed that they felt very disconnected from Stockton’s LGBT community this year.
In addition to a loss of community on campus, many students feel anxious about the current political climate. Katherine, queer-identifying trans woman, is studying anthropology. Due to the nature of her degree, conversations about gender and sexuality come up pretty frequently.
According to Katherine, “It’s really surreal having to go about my day knowing that my human rights are being bandied about”. Many other LGBT-identifying students at Stockton share this same anxiety. “I’m worried that I won’t be able to marry a woman in the future. Trump’s America is a really dangerous place for queer people,” Gabby said.
Although LGBTQ+ students may be feeling disconnected from campus, Laurie Dutton, Director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Center, wants to remind students that, “You are not alone.” The WGSC lounge, located in F-103 on the Galloway campus, is a dedicated safe space for LGBTQ+ students, women, and allies
The WGSC offers various programs specifically geared toward the LGBTQ+ community, including LGBTQIA+ mixers, a Whole New Closet program to help students who are transitioning, and a Lavender Graduation pinning ceremony for LGBTQ+ students and allies. The WGSC is open on campus for a limited capacity, and many events are being held online for remote students.
“Moving online has been challenging, but we are proud to offer almost all of our services with little to no changes,” Rebecca Longo, Assistant Director of the WGSC, says.
For any LGBTQ+ students who are struggling with mental health issues, Stockton has one counselor in the Counseling Center specifically dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community. Laura Shaw is a licensed Clinical Social Worker who works with LGBTQ+ students, as well as running support groups with Rebecca Longo.
For more information about the WGSC’s support groups or other upcoming events, students can visit www.stockton.edu/wgsc. Additionally, students can contact firstname.lastname@example.org with event ideas, or contact Laurie Dutton and Rebecca Longo for support and services.
Categories: Campus Life