With pride month and pride parades taking place all over the world this past June, our society continues to take steps in the right direction toward inclusivity and openness with respect to the LGBTQ+ community. The University of Wisconsin is following this trend by changing the name of their LGBT Campus Center to the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center.
According to the UW’s Division of Student Life, the reason for this change is to show that the center not only provides services to those of the LGBT community but is also a resource for students that use different labels for their gender or sexuality.
Over the past few years, there has been a shift away from using labels and pre-determined definitions for sexuality and gender. UW is one of many universities to refocus its mission in the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, and recognizes the acronym “LGBT” does not include all students of marginalized genders or sexualities anymore.
Considering that UW is a large school which welcomes students of many different backgrounds and experiences, it is imperative that the university continues to educate its community on acceptance and etiquette regarding gender and sexuality. Although a simple renaming may not seem like a big deal, the new name for the GSCC confirms that the community they serve is free from labels or binaries.
In being open to all genders and identities, this often means asking students and faculty to specify their preferred pronouns. For many students first entering college, it was probably a new experience to be asked their preferred pronouns at Student Orientation and Registration and during the first few weeks of classes. With this small action, however, comes respect and recognition for those that do not identify with one specific gender and those that identify with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.
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Though different sexualities have not always been looked at as legitimate, the transgender and non-binary communities are slowly becoming more integrated into society. With the rebranding of the LGBT Campus Center to include the word “gender” in its name, UW is showing its support and resources are available to those who identify as non-binary, agender or gender fluid. Similarly, the new name is inclusive of sexualities outside the LGBT acronym, like being intersex, pansexual or asexual.
Especially on college campuses, the main goal of centers like the newly renamed GSCC is to help those of different sexualities and genders feel welcome and comfortable in their environment. Unfortunately, there are undoubtedly people on campus who still have negative feelings toward those of the LBGTQ+ community, however, with the university promoting inclusive and accepting attitudes, there will hopefully be a shift in others’ attitudes as well.
As a whole, UW’s name change from the LGBT Campus Center to the GSCC is a large step in eliminating restrictive language from the community it serves, and will hopefully help to promote acceptance and inclusivity at the university as a whole.
Courtney Degen ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and intending to major in journalism.