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The topics of self-identity and sexual orientation have taken on new meaning in the public consciousness of late. That's a positive development, but there is much that needs to be understood when it comes to these issues and how they manifest themselves on our college campuses, for our young people.

Understanding the Issue

If you are an LGBTQ student, whatever high school experience was like for you, your college experience is likely to be quite different. On one hand, at many colleges, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) community is likely to be more visible. You're also likely to find more activities and more resources for LGBTQ students. Still, however, you may encounter homophobia and you may discover that not all those with whom you come in contact will be as accepting of LGBTQ students. But know that many people are working to change that, in all corners of the State of Maryland.

  • What are the top concerns of college-age LGBTQ students?
    As a whole, LGBTQ students find themselves facing the same life-altering transitions that heterosexual students do -- like living away from home for the first time, challenging academics and cultivating new relationships -- but these are complicated further as they explore issues around their sexuality. Typically, LGBT college students experience a wide range of feelings during this time in their lives. Among their top concerns are feeling welcomed and supported, "coming out" and experiencing discrimination, bullying or homophobia. However, there are certainly differences among each of the subgroups of sexual minorities, and those concerns might include issues with body image, gender-inclusive housing and specific health concerns like HIV/AIDS.
  • What is the appropriate language and terminology in regard to gender and sexual identity?
    Precise use of terms in regards to gender and sexual orientation can have a significant impact on demystifying many of the misperceptions associated with these concepts. However, the vocabulary of both continues to evolve, and there is not universal agreement about the definitions of many terms. Nonetheless, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has published some working definitions and examples of frequently used (and misused) terms to serve as a starting point for dialogue and understanding.

    PFLAG Glossary
  • Where do we stand on LGBTQ issues on today's college campuses?

    Demographers suggest there may be nearly 1 million LGBTQ students and more than 160,000 faculty and staff members at universities and colleges across the nation. With society quickly becoming more accepting, those numbers will trend higher as more students, faculty members, and staff members voluntarily reveal they are LGBTQ. And as these LGBTQ students, faculty and staff are increasingly open to their universities and colleges, they expect their university and college leaders to advocate for and protect their equal rights and academic opportunity. LGBTQ alumni, who have often traditionally drifted away from their alma maters, today are far more open to engagement once they see the progress made on campus toward ending discrimination and welcoming all.

    Source: LGBT Challenges in Higher Education Today, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB)