LGBTQ Awareness and Acceptance

UMBC Promotes a Welcoming Community

Jamie Heathcote

Staff Writer

heatjam1@umbc.edu

Summary: The LGBTQA Reception kicks off the year by connecting students to resources and each other.

If you’re on UMBC’s campus, even for a second, you’ll quickly recognize that you’re at a school that is rich in diversity Newcomers to UMBC’s campus can quickly see the rich diversity of the school. Regardless of one’s background, heritage or lifestyle, one can sense that UMBC is an academic environment that fosters strong feelings of community and belonging.

Whether students are commuters or residents, UMBC urges its students to feel comfortable speaking out and being themselves. One shining example is the encouragement and acceptance afforded to students who identify themselves as a part of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) community.

On Aug. 27, the first day of the fall 2014 semester, activities for returning and new students were in full swing. Among the many events, an LGBTQA Reception was held in the University Center’s Ballroom Lounge.

As the Ballroom Lounge filled with students, staff and faculty, Vice President for Student Affairs, Nancy Young, introduced herself to the crowd and said, “One of the things that I love the most about UMBC is its supportive environment for all sorts of people.” By creating an atmosphere that is based on openness, a family-like community is bound to flourish.

Junior mathematics major Victoria Besner said, “I’ve been involved in this since my freshman year. It used to be held in the Mosaic Center, but got moved to other locations because more people kept coming.” Awareness is clearly spreading, and more and more students are taking advantage of opportunities for the LGBTQA population on campus.

In reference to the reception, Coordinator for LGBTQ Programs, Zach Kosinski, said “It’s a good way for students who are questioning their sexuality or who need any guidance in any way to connect with resources, [with people] who are willing to provide assistance.” Right from the start, students know what kinds of resources are available to them.

Along with the LGBTQA Reception, which kicked off the school year, the month of October is recognized as LGBT History Month.

Among these events and opportunities on campus, Kosinski also said, “In May, we have something called a Lavender Celebration where graduating seniors are honored for not only graduating from UMBC, but also overcoming barriers that they may have encountered.” Allied supporters are welcome to celebrate along with them.

Last year’s Lavender Celebration was held in May in the Skylight Room. Students, faculty and staff gathered to give and receive recognition for overcoming the struggles they had faced as members of the LGBTQA community in order to graduate from UMBC.

UMBC is committed to providing a welcoming environment. When asked about LGBTQA plans for the future, Kosinski proudly said, “Just keep doing big things!” Judging by the turnout at the Reception, members of the UMBC community are ready to respond to that charge.