LGBTQ+ safe haven created for students

by | Nov 14, 2014 | Life

Britnei Bilhete 

Being queer or questioning can be difficult for LGBTQ students, but support is available at Humber College.

Each week, students and allies of the community are invited to attend LGBTQ+ @ Humber group meetings, an initiative by Humber Counseling Services, led by queer identified facilitators at North and Lakeshore campuses.

Co-chair of the Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee, Maureen Carnegie is a Humber mental health first aid project counselor andleader of student discussions.

“The group is a safe, supportive and confidential place where LGBTQ+ students can be themselves, find community, learn and grow,” said Carnegie.

Sylvia Bresson (not her name), is a regular attendee and agreed that coming to the meetings each week has helped her become more confident.

“I felt that I was… wrong,” said the 20-year-old architect student. “Going to group changed that completely.”

Prior to the discussion sessions, she had never spoken openly about her sexuality.

“You just need someone to listen to you,” she said.

Media Studies student Taylor Clysdale, 20, is open about his sexuality with family and friends and enjoys the meetings.

“It’s informative and supportive,” said Clysdale. “This group is super good for learning materials.” Forms and pamphlets on sexual health, support groups and advice for those who are ‘in and out of the closet’ are provided.

Bresson said her reality was different from happy stories of parental acceptance.

“It hurts but when you see people like Taylor, you know [that] the world isn’t all bad…love conquers all.”

Weekly topics cover a spectrum of subjects such as religion and spirituality within the LGBTQ community to creating and sustaining healthy relationships.

Humber’s Gender and Sexual Diversity Committee sponsors the group. Co-chair Thomas Silicox- Child said he initially didn’t know what kind of reception students would get, but that has changed.

“Now it seems clear that there’s a body of students coming out who need a place to discuss their issues,” he said “and that’s the main thing.”

The group’s next meet, Being LGBTQ+ in our Families, will be on Nov. 18 at North (room GH 101) and Nov. 19 at Lakeshore (room A116A) 11:45 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.