Saturday, July 24, 2021

MSU LBGT Resource Center renamed to better reflect the LGBTQA+ community

April 1, 2021
<p>Illustration of a woman holding an LGBTQ+ flag.</p>

Illustration of a woman holding an LGBTQ+ flag.

Photo by Hope Ann Flores | The State News

The Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Resource Center at Michigan State University will be renamed The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center beginning July 1, according to an announcement Wednesday.

The new name strives to be more inclusive to the diversity of sexual and gender identities, including asexual and agender community members, according to an email by LBGTRC Director Jesse Beal and Senior Vice President for Residential and Hospitality Services and Auxiliary Enterprises and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Vennie Gore. 

“The challenge with acronym-based center names like LBGT Resource Center, is that not all identities are included or represented, especially as new identity terms are generated to better describe people’s experiences of gender and sexuality,” the email said. 

According to the center’s website, the LBGTRC is a student-centered campus resource that works to celebrate, affirm and empower LBGTQA+ members of the MSU community. The goal is to create an inclusive campus culture for people of all genders and sexualities through education, engagement, advocacy and student support. 

“This name change will better reflect the work and the communities served by the center and its team,” LBGTRC Director Jesse Beal said in a release. “When the LBGTRC was first named 15-years ago the acronym represented our communities at the time and was far less standardized than today. Since then, the center’s name has become an outlier among Big Ten universities and Michigan’s public institutions and is often assumed to be an error.”

The “LBGT” acronym used in the current name is the not common order of the acronym. The more correct and current acronym is LGBTQA+ or LGBTQIA+, the website said.

With March 31 celebrating the International Transgender Day of Visibility, the email said it felt fitting to announce the change and bring attention to the center and LGBTQ+ Spartans on a day intended to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of transgender and non-binary individuals. This includes faculty and staff seeking services from the center as well as cisgender and heterosexual individuals hoping to learn, build community and collaborate to create a safer, more welcoming and more inclusive community, according to the email.

“TDOV is a celebration of our community and this name change increases the visibility of the center and LGBTQA+ Spartans," Beal said. "It is cause for celebration."

In recognition of this, the center hosted their first annual Trans Day of Visibility Student Research Symposium on Wednesday, featuring talks from MSU faculty members Jae Puckett and Patrick Arnold, selected student researchers and keynote speaker Sy Simms. On April 1, a virtual Pride Kick-Off event invites students to celebrate and find joy together. A list of programs and more events can be found on the center’s website.

“MSU’s center serving the LBGTQA+ community is a critical hub for creating and supporting an inclusive and welcoming campus for all Spartans,” MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in the release. “The center will continue to be a critical asset to help prevent gender and sexuality bias and will be better positioned to serve our community with its new name.”

According to the email, the name change comes following years of effort from student leaders and the resource center team as many students have requested a change over the years. The decision did not occur overnight. It came following student discussions, research and analysis of name trends for similar centers. 

“This new name — The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center — not only better reflects the important work of our staff and students but also lets our students know we are responsive to their needs and want them to continue to be engaged and connected with MSU,” Gore said in the release.

The support received already from Stanley, Gore and the community, Beal said, demonstrates MSU’s commitment to LGBTQA+ inclusion today and for years to come.

“Our goal is to be the best LGBTQA+ center on any college campus; a center that is worthy of the strength, tenacity and brilliance of LGBTQA+ Spartans,” Beal said. “Changing our name is a part of enacting this vision. This change — requested by our students — sets us on a course toward that future.”

A list of student resources can be found on the center’s website, as well as resources for faculty and stafftransgender students, local and national resources, information about pronouns and scholarships and awards.

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