Coming into university as a member of the LGBT community can be terrifying. For some, this is the space where they first come out to people. For those already out, they’ll be meeting new people from around the country. As someone who is openly bisexual, my experience at university has been welcoming. Academic research shows that queer people are less likely to make it into university due to hardship within high school and family relationships. I know this may cause fear about going into university as some students may not know where they stand within the university. So, for all the queer students in high school, closeted or out, this post is for you.
I came from a very accepting school where there was a HUGE queer student body and coming into uni where I had no idea what queer life was like, it was pretty intimidating. I didn’t know any queer students at the university, hadn’t heard anything in the news about issues like homophobia and transphobia and in general, what the support network will be like.
Very slowly, I learnt about the services available to support people like me (COVID made it take a bit longer). So here are the ways I have felt accepted within the university as a queer student.
Queer book section at the university bookstore UBIQ:
It’s huge and it shows the university is working towards having a diverse student culture where they want to make sure a diverse range of people are seen in our literature that is available.
When I started, the university had signs around campus saying there was no space for any form of discrimination at the university. It listed a range of prejudices which weren’t welcome which helped me feel welcome.
Now, there are signs around campus in all the different buildings promoting having a diverse campus where anyone can become a student at the university.
The student union is our voice, they always raise concerns we have to the higher ups. There’s even a Queer Rights Advocate within AUSA. The AUSA building is right across the road from the general library, so you can’t miss it. It’s always available both in person and online.
This brings me to my next and final point, Queer Space. A safe space for queer students to hang out without the fear of someone making you feel uncomfortable. It can sometimes be scary being in a new space or around a whole lot of people you’re never going to know, so it’s nice to have a space set aside for people just like you. The Queer Rights Advocate’s office is also in Queer Space, so you can always pop your head in during office hours.
So there you go! Come on into the university with all your queerness knowing you’re in a supportive environment where both the university and the union will stand up for you. As a queer student for the last three years, I have felt supported by my friends, lecturers and tutors within the university. I know it’s hard to get through your teenage years as a queer student, I’ve been there, but pushing through high school and getting into university is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life and I am so proud of how far I have come.