LGBTQA Resource Center Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What does LGBTQA stand for?

Generally, LGBTQA stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Asexual/Aromantic. Many people also feel that the A stands for Ally and/or Advocate. At the time of the LGBTQA Resource Center's inception in 2011, in keeping with needs and feedback from our campus community, the "A" stood for "Ally." Since at that time, at the recommendation of community members, we unofficially expanded the center name to include asexual and aromantic people as we also provide support and programming around these identities. Similarly, our support and programming is for allies and advocates as well!

As we continue this work, we recognize that there is a rich variety of labels and numerous intersecting identities. People from various backgrounds and social groups identify as LGBTQA, and vice versa; we recognize that everyone is an individual, and that labels and identities are perceived and experienced differently by different people. When referring to the "LGBTQA" community on campus, we aim to be inclusive of students, staff, and faculty with varying intersectional identities and strive to empower all individuals and groups with the understanding that intersections of oppression impact people differently. Occasionally you may see references to the LGBTQ+ community as an expression of acknowledgment that there are many more identities existing than those most commonly recognized.

For more information on these terms and others, we suggest you check out this glossary of terms by the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

What does queer mean? Why do people use the word queer?

Queer is an umbrella term often used by and for many people who identify within the LGBTQA+ umbrella. Some number of years ago, the term "queer" was seen and experienced as pejorative and derogatory, often used by those with power to denigrate those perceived as different. In the years since, "queer" has been re-appropriated by some many as a communal and political term to describe those who reject binary gender identity and sexual orientation models (binary = either/or; male OR female; gay OR straight). It is suggested that people not in the LGBTQA community not use the term "queer" unless instructed to do so by family and friends who identify as such.

What does trans* mean? Why do you use it?

Trans* is an umbrella term often used by and for anyone identifying outside of typical gender norms, or whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth. While typically referring to "transgender," some have suggested that "trans*" with an asterisk refers to various transgender-adjacent identities including, but not limited to: genderqueer, genderfluid, gender-diverse, and gender-independent people. We use the term "trans*" to be as inclusive as we can and avoid leaving out any identities in a list that tries to reference (but not claim) everyone's experiences.

What resources exist for allies of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community?

Choosing to be an ally is one of the most important things a straight (heterosexual) and/or cisgender person can do for the LGBTQ community. Committing to allyship is committing to active resistance against discrimination, prejudice, and bias against misuses and abuses of social power and social capital. As an ally, you are asked to learn about and move within the communities you support, while also exercising discretion and sensitivity. You may also feel a lot of pressure to be perfect at all times.

Fortunately, the LGBTQA Resource Center has resources for allies and is welcoming to all people on our campus. Like all other students, allies are welcome to make individual appointments with the LGBTQA Resource Center Coordinator. Allies also have access to all of our library resources and informational pamphlets. For allies wanting to learn more about the LGBTQA community and become better supports, our Allies Network Program is a good option to build upon the knowledge you already have. Allies interested in becoming more active in the LGBTQ community are encouraged to contact the Rainbow Society, Gallaudet University's LGBTQA student club. Volunteer positions and internships are also available at the LGBTQA Resource Center.

Is the LGBTQA Resource Center specifically for the Gallaudet Community? Does the Resource Center serve the larger Deaf or LGBTQA community as well?

As a unit of Gallaudet University's Office of Diversity and Equity for Students (ODES), the LGBTQA Resource Center primarily serves Gallaudet students as well as faculty, staff, and alumni. Our services are for members of the LGBTQA community as well as allies. Many of our events are open to the public, and we strive to disseminate publicly-available LGBTQA-related information to the campus and wider Deaf and LGBTQA communities through our website and Facebook page.

Where is the LGBTQA Resource Center located? Can students use this space?

The LGBTQA Resource Center is housed in the Office of Diversity and Equity for Students (ODES), located in Hall Memorial Building South Wing Suite 141. The ODES Suite houses the offices of the coordinators for three ODES units: the LGBTQA Resource Center; Keeping the Promise: Equitable Opportunities for Students (KTP); and Multicultural Student Programs (MSP). The ODES suite also holds the ODES Lounge, affectionately known as "The Hangout," and the ODES Diversity Library, including numerous LGBTQA-related books.

The ODES Lounge is a designated Safe Space for LGBTQA and ally members of the Gallaudet community and all those using programs and services of the Office of Diversity and Equity for Students to relax, study, meet, and spend time with friends new and old.

How can students get more involved with the LGBTQA Resource Center?

We love volunteers! The LGBTQA Resource Center welcomes student (and staff and faculty) volunteers to assist with a variety of projects. Students, staff, faculty, and alumni can assist with program planning and implementation, outreach to the campus, and marketing of programs and services. Students can also join Rainbow Society, the LGBTQA student club.

Do you have to identify as LGBTQ to attend programs, groups, and events?

No. The majority of our programs and events are open to everyone on campus! The more, the merrier! We value exchange of ideas and opinions and welcome opportunities to share and learn new information related to LGBTQA+ and ally identities and experiences.

Who can check out the books and DVDs in the library? How long can you check them out for?

Current Gallaudet students, faculty, and staff all have access to our library materials. Books may be borrowed for three weeks at a time and DVDs for one week. For more information, visit ODES and talk with our paraprofessionals and staff about library policy and procedures.

What role can faculty/staff members have in the LGBTQA Resource Center?

Gallaudet University faculty and staff are encouraged to become mentors and role models for LGBTQA students. Those wanting to support a strong community feel on campus and offer themselves as informal sources of support (as mentors, bathroom buddies, etc.) are encouraged to join the Rainbow Bison Directory, a listing of 'out' LGBTQA+ and ally faculty and staff.

One of the most important programs the LGBTA Resource Center offers is our Allies Network Program. Allies Network provides participants with an assortment of resources as well as useful tools for supporting and referring LGBTQA+ students to appropriate services. Although members of the LGBTQA community often have a leg-up when it comes to information about and resources for the community, each of us has areas within which we can improve our knowledge and understanding. The Allies Network Program seeks to identify those areas and provide the tools necessary to support LGBTQ students and advocate for inclusion and equity across Gallaudet's campus. Email lgbtqa@gallaudet.edu to sign up yourself or your department or unit for an Allies Network presentation.

During the academic year, the LGBTQA Resource Center offers programs and events to promote interchanges between faculty, staff, and students. Examples include Brown Bag lunch gatherings, QTPOC and trans meet-up groups, and Lavender Graduation: all provide opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to interact outside the classroom. For more information about programs offered by the LGBTQA Resource Center or to get more involved, please email lgbtqa@gallaudet.edu.

Are there safer sex materials available at the LGBTQA Resource Center?

We try to keep the ODES Lounge stocked with condoms, dental dams, and lube pillows, as well as informational pamphlets. For students interested in STI testing, get in touch with our great colleagues and paraprofessionals at Health and Wellness Programs.

How do I get updates on what's happening at the LGBTQA Resource Center?

What are the resources for trans* students who are starting to transition?

At this time, Gallaudet student health insurance, administered by Student Health Programs, does not cover hormone therapy or reassignment surgery. However, for those with other insurances, Gallaudet Student Health Service and the Counseling and Psychological Services Center are available to provide referrals for health care providers. The LGBTQA Resource Center Coordinator can also assist with researching LGBTQA-informed and culturally-sensitive health care providers. For more information, check out our page with Frequently Asked Questions for Trans* students.

What should I do if a Gallaudet student or faculty/staff member says or does something that is discriminatory?

How large is the LGBTQ community at Gallaudet University? What is the climate like for out LGBTQ faculty, staff, and students?

There is a sizable number of out LGBTQ students, staff, and faculty on campus. Additionally, there are many out alumni. There are as many different experiences of being LGBTQA+ as there are LGBTQA+ people!

Does Gallaudet offer same-sex partner benefits for employees?

Yes, Gallaudet offers same-sex partners benefits that includes: health and dental benefits, life insurance, long term care insurance and tuition assistance/waivers. You will need to be married or complete a domestic partner affidavit form. For more information, contact Human Resources.

Coming Out Questions

What resources are there for questioning students and/or anyone considering coming out?

The LGBTQA Resource Center has informational books, brochures, and online resources to help questioning students and those considering coming out. The LGBTQA Resource Center can also assist you in meeting other supportive students in the community. For immediate or serious concerns, visit Gallaudet Counseling and Psychological Services, contact your housing staff on call, or reach out to the Department of Public Safety.

Can students schedule time to meet with the LGBTQA Resource Center Coordinator?

Yes. The LGBTQA Resource Center Coordinator is available to meet with students. To request an appointment, please email lgbtqa@gallaudet.edu or make an appointment through Starfish on Blackboard. For immediate or serious concerns, visit Gallaudet Counseling and Psychological Services, contact your housing staff on call, or reach out to the Department of Public Safety.

Questions and answers adapted with thanks to Emory University's Office of LGBT Life