The LGBT Resource Center at Weber State University strives to provide a safe and welcoming environment while offering educational opportunities and support for the LGBT community, their family, friends, allies and anyone willing to learn.
Jayson Stokes, the LGBT Resource Center coordinator, said the center provides a variety of services, including advising and printed resources. Printed resources include information on healthcare, identity development, coming out and relationship dynamics.
For Stokes, the LGBT center is important because when he was a student, the program didn’t exist. Stokes wants students to know that there is a visible presence and a way of connecting with people and building a sense of community and belonging.
“As a student, I often felt isolated and alone on campus and that made going to school really hard. There was times I needed support, and there weren’t these resources available on campus” Stokes said.
Celebrating and honoring WSU’s LGBT community, the center holds Pride Week on October 11, corresponding with National Coming Out Day. Festivities include information tables in Shepherd Union, panel discussions and film screenings. It’s a way for students to feel important and cared for, Stokes said.
“Like many other underrepresented student populations, LGBT students face unique challenges and obstacles,” Stokes said. “Coming to school and feeling engaged, part of the community, is important to support students being successful.”
Some members of the LGBT community face social rejection, discrimination and marginalization within their community. Finding acceptance is often difficult, which is why the center is welcoming to all.
Some educational programming that the LGBT Resource Center offers is LGBT 101 workshops, transgender 101 workshops and allied training. These programs are made for educating and creating a sense of visibility and community, according to Stokes.
Some other programming that the LGBT center is involved in is highlighting Holocaust remembrance in the spring because LGBT people were targeted during that time as well. They also do activities during Transgender Day of Visibility and Transgender Day of Remembrance, days dedicated to raising awareness of the injustices and discrimination toward transgender people.
The center also provides resources like the Marquardt Peace and Possibility Speaker Series. Stokes said each year the center brings in prominent LGBTQ individuals to speak about their life and experiences. Some of the speakers in the past have been Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Kate Kendell and President’s Advisory Committee member during the Obama presidency Bruce Bastian.
The LGBT center oversees two scholarships, the Matthew Shepard Scholarships and the Hall-Weckel Scholarship, which are open to all students.
“All of our resources are geared for all of our students, not just students who identify as LGBT,” Stokes said.