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Supporting LGBTQ+ Students

Strategies for All Staff, Faculty and Teaching Assistants

  • Provide space for students to disclose lived-names and gender pronouns at the start of each course or program.  This may include modeling introductions with names and pronouns or creating name tents.   
  • Incorporate pronouns structurally into meetings, programs, and forms.  Conduct a departmental review of your forms, data collection, and reporting methods for inclusiveness and compliance with the Gender Recognition Act. 
  • Include well-researched LGBTQ+ histories and issues into your curriculum, programs, and events.
  • Don’t place the burden of representation on students
  • Mirror language
  • Don’t assume resource needs
  • Challenge –isms when they arise in class discussion, drawing attention to the power and control mechanisms that underlie those particular systems of oppression
  • Locate the nearest gender-inclusive restrooms to your office or classroom so you will be able to give directions to students in need
  • Be cognizant of power structures and power dynamics when engaging with students
  • Include your gender pronouns in your email signature and a link to why pronouns are important
  • Know campus resources to be able to refer students to the appropriate support services ​

In the Classroom

  • Become familiar with Cal Poly's process for collecting lived-names and pronouns and how they will appear on class rosters. (Coming Soon)
  • Include well-researched LGBTQ+ people, histories, and issues into your curricula, including those who have made significant contributions to your academic discipline
  • When discussing current events, include LGBTQ+ issues
  • Include examples of LGBTQ+ people in lectures and discussions so they are not marginalized.
  • Be clear with your students that homophobic, transphobic, heterosexist, and cissexist comments and actions are not acceptable and will be addressed in an educational, informative, and non-threatening manner. 

In Athletics

  • Engage and establish team and campus norms of using inclusive language.
  • Offer a visible and supportive presence for LGBTQ+ athletes, whether they are out or not.
  • Develop inclusive policies within your student-athlete handbooks and within each team.
  • Increase awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and concerns to examine unfounded attitudes and beliefs.
  • Respond appropriately to Anti-LGBTQ+ Incidents and Bias.
  • Make connections with LGBTQ+ inclusive practitioners within comprehensive counseling and healthcare.  
  • Increase awareness of transgender issues and concerns, especially with regards to the NCAA.  Check out this report titled On the Team: Equal Opportunity for Transgender Student-Athletes and the 2011 NCAA Policy on Transgender Inclusion.

In the Student Union

  • Ensure that LGBTQ+ student organizations have adequate professional staff support and an advisor.  LGBTQ+ student organizations should be consult with the Lead Coordinator of LGBTQ+ initiaitives to be affiliated with the Cal Poly Pride Center.
  • Know names of local and national LGBTQ+ organizations (note: some organizations are updating their acronyms to be more inclusive and may change once in a while).
  • Advocate for student government to allocate LGBTQ+ organizations with reasonable funding.  Also, help organizations find alternative sources of funding.
  • Insist that Greek organizations engage in diversity and inclusion training which include how to support members who may "come out."

At Counseling Services

  • Include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as well as coming out issues in intake paperwork as options for discussions
  • Include a variety of partner status options in the paperwork.
  • Display some LGBTQ+ affirming materials in the center, including LGBTQ+ magazines and newspapers in the waiting/reception area.
  • Include LGBTQ+ material in counseling services publicity.
  • Use inclusive language.
  • Identify a counselor who has some understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, preferably LGBTQ+ staff, who are available to meet with students as a confidential referral and advertise their specialties in marketing materials.
  • Don't automatically assume your clients are heterosexual.  For example, don't ask a female identified student if she has a boyfriend.
  • Ensure there are LGBTQ+ support or discussion groups, including a "Coming Out" group at least once per academic year.

At Health & Wellbeing Services

  • Make sure your professional and paraprofessional health educators are comfortable with phrases and concept such as continual condom usage, anal intercourse, dental dams, and are comfortable talking about sexuality that is not exclusively heterosexual.
  • Make sure your gynecological physicians understand that sexually active does not necessarily mean needs birth control.
  • Ensure front desk staff has culturally sensitive training as to not misgender or out clients who may be seeking services. 

In University Housing

  • If assigned roommates engage in biased behavior, inform the LGBTQ+ identified student of the available options and allow them the freedom to choose which option is best.
  • Ensure that all handbooks and housing contracts have a statement regarding non-discrimination as it relates to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression and indicates where students should report if they feel intimidated or harassed.
  • New resident orientation programs should address diversity and inclusion initiatives at Cal Poly and address LGBTQ+ issues ensuring that all student understand that LGBTQ+ students are a valued, integral, and welcomed part of campus life.

At the Financial Aid Office

  • Ensure that staff have adequate training on how the impact of a student's "coming out process" at home can affect parents' financial support
  • Include information about LGBTQ+ specific scholarship opportunities that exist and other options for financial assistance for students who may be experiencing financial, housing, or food insecurity.

In the Career Center

  • Display information about local career resources, such as LGBTQ+ affirmative employers, for LGBTQ+ clients.
  • Provide staff with training about the social and political impact of LGBTQ+ issues in the workplace.
  • Be open to discussing LGBTQ+ issues with students as these relate to their career choice, resumes, interviews, determining the policies and workplace culture of a company, and coming out in the workplace.
  • Maintain a list of people who can be used as resources for LGBTQ+ students.
  • Know which employers interviewing on your campus have non-discrimination and domestic partner policies for LGBTQ people and offer that information to students.

Across the Cal Poly Campus

  • Take the time to examine your own personal feelings about LGBTQ+ people.
  • Educate others about the non-discrimination policy which includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
  • Value LGBTQ perspectives and opinions in the residence halls, your classrooms, and your committees.
  • Don't tokenize.
  • Work to make your office or work environment a safer place.
  • Publically acknowledge LGBTQ+ community members presence on campus and in society.  Do so at high levels and often.
  • Don't necessarily agree with everything an LGBTQ+ student says;  it is okay to challenge them too.  
  • Help cisgender and heterosexual students understand that LGBTQ people are a presence on campus and in society-  regardless of their personal beliefs or values.
  • Support LGBTQ+ students because they add to the vibrancy of thought, activity, and life on campus; not because it is politically correct.

Continued Education

One of the most important aspects of engaging in allyship is continuing to educate yourself on the issues affecting members of our campus community.  Below are some additional materials and links to get you started.

More resources coming soon. 

Have recommendations for items to be added to one of these sections?  Feel free to share those with us to help make Cal Poly more inclusive for everyone.  

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