As part of our initiative called Curious Cornhuskers, an anonymous reader asked, "How does UNL accommodate LGBTQA+ students, and do LGBTQA+ students feel safe at UNL?”
One of the main on-campus organizations that is able to be utilized as a resource for LGBTQA+ students is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s LGBTQA+ Center, located on the third floor of the Nebraska Union.
According to its website, the main purpose of the LGBTQA+ Center is to provide education, resources, outreach and advocacy to develop academic success, identities, community and leadership opportunities. The center often hosts LGBTQA+-centered events, like drag shows and its annual Rainbow Ball, among many other periodically held events.
“What we do first of all is provide a space, because a lot of times students aren’t able to have folks come in and actually care about their identities,” JD McCown, assistant director of the LGBTQA+ Center, said.
In addition to hosting events, the center also recently reopened its Lavender Closet program, which provides students with identity-affirming clothing for free.
“It’s a donation-based, completely free clothing closet that is focused on gender-affirming clothing,” McCown said. “For a lot of folks they will come and just take pieces, no one has to bring in something to take something, so that’s something cool for folks.”
They also have a library in their office that has fiction and nonfiction books, as well as DVDs to check out.
“We have our library over here which is something that’s through the Love Library system, which is nice because then we’re able to make contact and talk about our resources as well,” McCown said.
While each UNL student has a different outlook about their safety on campus, Grace Walsh, a freshman pre-nursing student, said overall they feel safe on UNL’s City Campus but wishes the university would implement more safety measures for those walking alone.
“If you’re in the center of campus all in all I feel OK,” Walsh said. “I haven’t seen those safety buttons like I saw on Creighton’s campus. You hit it, and it sounds an alarm to call the police, so I think we should have safety buttons.”
Outside of the LGBTQA+ Center, there are several recognized student organizations centered on LGBTQA+ identities, such as Spectrum UNL, Pride in Business and oSTEM, or Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
In addition to the resource center and RSOs, the University of Nebraska’s Policy on Chosen Name and Gender Identity has allowed NU students to update their personal information to reflect their chosen name and pronouns for many situations with no documentation needed.
UNL also offers the option for gender-inclusive on-campus housing for students of any gender identity to feel safe while on campus.
Gabe Allen, a freshman chemistry major, said safety on campus really depends on the people students surround themselves with and what they’re involved with.
“There is certainly hope,” he said. “I shouldn't say UNL does an excellent job, but it does a well enough job at creating and maintaining at least a semblance of a secure and safe environment even if it's not maybe safe in practice.”