UAlbany Gender and Sexuality Resource Center Offers Invaluable Support to LGBT* Community on Campus
UAlbany junior Joe Diamond credits the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center with providing support that has helped him to succeed in college. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)
UAlbany’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) serves as a home away from home for many students, including junior Joe Diamond, a human biology major. While a freshman at UAlbany, Diamond was still in the closet about being gay. He met his boyfriend on campus and they started hanging out at the Center. During a break from school, Diamond came out to his parents and their reaction was less than ideal. When he returned to campus, he found Center staff members incredibly helpful and supportive.
GSRC Program Coordinator Courtney D’Allaird noted that if a lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBT*) student loses family support, they should connect with the Center to help navigate housing and financial aid. Also, if the stress of losing the support of family causes a student to underperform in his or her classes, the Center will work with other academic offices to ensure the student does not face academic dismissal.
“The Center has made a huge difference in my life,” said Diamond, who recently took the test to become an EMT and hopes to become a paramedic or a firefighter. “It gave me a place to go where I could hang out with people who are like me – and also with people who are not like me.”
The GSRC at UAlbany first opened in 2009, and recently moved to bigger space to accommodate substantial growth. Currently, the GSRC serves about 80 students each day with a staff of 20 students and seven interns per semester. With the increasing number of LGBT* students seeking a university that is “gay friendly,” there are now web sites rating schools on how supportive they are of gay students.
The Center will observe National Coming Out Day on October 11, and will host a Coming Out Reception in conjunction with Student Association’s Gender & Sexuality Concerns Director, with a guest speaker at the end of October. The Center will also observe National Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 21, in memory of transgendered people who have lost their lives to hate crimes.
This semester there are two new clubs on campus for LGBT* students: one for students interested in diversity and inclusion in business, Leaders Embracing Albany’s Diversification (LEAD) and UAlbany Multicultural Rainbow Group (UMRG) for international LGBT* and allied students.
“When I first came to UAlbany, we had one student club and six student leadership positions,” said D’Allaird. “Since the Center has opened, we have seen many students like Joe. Now, more than 30 LGBT* and allied student leaders across campus -- who call this University and the Center home -- are running more than seven clubs and thriving.”
Diamond was once an intern at the center and believes that the fact that the University has committed resources to make the Center more visible underscores their importance to the University. “The support programs that exist at UAlbany for LGBT students are tremendous,” said Diamond. “The support I have received at UAlbany is unbelievable and I am so indebted to many.”