UNCC Needs an LGBTQ Center
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UNC Charlotte is the largest urban research facility in North Carolina with a student size of over 27,000. Studies done by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior and the Williams Institute show that up to 8% of the nation’s population identifies as LGBTQIA+, meaning that potentially several hundred LGBT+ students attend this university. Statistics from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce show that 20% of LGBT college students fear for their physical safety on campus due to violence against the LGBTQ+ community. It is imperative to the lives, safety, and humanity of our students and community that we no longer ignore this pressing need and push administration to prioritize the creation of an LGBTQIA resource center.
The need for this space has existed since the creation of this university, but has grown even more urgent in recent years due to terrifying increases in student suicides, transphobia, and acts of violence.
On March 23rd, 2016, our campus community lost Blake Brockington—a trans activist, UNCC student, educator, and community figurehead—to suicide. A year later, Sherell Faulker, a Black trans women and Charlotte resident, was found beaten to death with her body thrown into a trash can. 5 months after that, Derricka Banner, another Black trans woman, was shot and killed with her body shoved in the trunk of a car. Each of these deaths happened in our city and directly impacted our community and our university, but received little to no acknowledgement from administration about the violent impacts of queerphobia. This speaks to a massive need for us to have real conversations about the ways we’ve failed to protect transgender students and community members in the past and how we create changes to ensure the safety and comfort of our most marginalized groups. However, it’s been close to impossible to share these fears and concerns with administration, as Joshua Burford, the assistant director of sexuality and sexual health---the only staffed liaison between LGBT students and upper-level administration--has left recently, leaving no one to advocate on the behalf of queer and transgender students and staff
An LGBTQIA Resource Center would be a space of educational resources for UNCC students as well as the greater Charlotte community, but most importantly It would represent a space where UNC Charlotte’s most marginalized student populations can find safety, comfort, and solitude with one another in environments that can be isolating and unsupportive. The UNCC Safe Zone website cites isolation, low self-esteem, discrimination, and social avoidance as common issues LGBTQ+ students face. A space where students can come together to build community, learn more about one another, support each other, and feel welcomed regardless of what their identity is has the capacity to help students through these issues and many more in a way this campus desperately needs. We call on UNCC administration to create the changes needed to support students of all backgrounds find the safety and support they need to get a conducive and positive college experience.
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