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9 Things Freshman Orientation Doesn't Tell You About Queer People

College can be tough, but being a queer student doesn't have to be.

Congratulations! You are a high school graduate and will now move on to the awesomeness that is college. One of the best parts about college is meeting people who may not be exactly like you. There's also a chance you might have a classmate, teammate or fellow dorm-mate that could be queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. 

Navigating campus as a queer person can sometimes be difficult, too, from expressing your sexual or gender identity to telling others you identify as LGBTQ  

But whether you're straight, cisgender or somewhere along the queer spectrum, here are some do's and don'ts regarding sexual orientation and gender that were probably left out of freshman orientation. 

  • 1. Don't be weirded out by a lesbian or gay roommate.
    She or he probably won't have a crush on you. And in the unlikely event that they do, so what? It's not a big deal and y
    She or he probably won't have a crush on you. And in the unlikely event that they do, so what? It's not a big deal and you've got nothing to worry about. 
  • 2. Don't make assumptions about a classmate's sexual orientation or gender identity.
    Sexuality and gender identity isn't always visible, and you've probably met a queer person before but didn't know it. So if y
    Sexuality and gender identity isn't always visible, and you've probably met a queer person before but didn't know it. So if you have a question, just ask but in a respectful manner. 
  • 3. If you're queer and ready to come out, now might be the time! If you're not queer, now is the time to just be supportive.
    Everyone comes out at their own pace, so it's probably best to wait until you're ready. But, if you think you might
    Everyone comes out at their own pace, so it's probably best to wait until you're ready. But, if you think you might be queer then college may be the best time to discover your sexuality or gender identity. The support you could possibly receive from your peers and university staff could be helpful.  Remember: It may be really hard for someone to come out, and it's a special opportunity if a friend trusts you enough to share their identity with you.
  • 4. Even in a small college town it's possible to connect with other queer people.
    <span><span style="color: #222222;"><span style="color: #555555;">Just because you're not attending a school in a city with a
    Just because you're not attending a school in a city with a huge gay scene doesn't mean you're alone. Many colleges with LGBTQ alliances offer open-to-the-public gender and sexuality related events with guest speakers and panels discussing queer politics and issues. This is a great way for you to get to know the LGBTQ faces and allies on campus without having to ask!
  • 5. Mind your preferred gender pronouns.
    <span style="color: #222222;"><span>Not sure if someone wants to be called "she" or "he"? Try listening first but if you have
    Not sure if someone wants to be called "she" or "he"? Try listening first but if you have to ask, perhaps, do so by starting with your preferred pronouns. No need to be apologetic about asking but if you do use the wrong pronouns, apologize quickly. No harm, no foul.
  • 6. Hold your non-queer friends accountable.
    <span style="color: #222222;"><span>Your non-queer friends may not have been around a lot of LGBTQ people before coming to co
    Your non-queer friends may not have been around a lot of LGBTQ people before coming to college, but that's not an excuse for off-color humor or any other offensive behaviors. Speak up because chances are if they're really your friends they'll understand and make changes accordingly.
  • 7. LGBTQ people are not defined by their sexual or gender identity.
    Avoid introducing LGBTQ friends to others in a way that predicates their sexual identity: "Hi, this my gay best friend." No n
    Avoid introducing LGBTQ friends to others in a way that predicates their sexual identity: "Hi, this my gay best friend." No need to qualify someone in that manner, and queer people have lots of interests outside being LGBTQ. 
  • 8. Be mindful of what you say.
    Gender and sexuality&nbsp;isn't&nbsp;black or white. If you're not careful about what you say, you could&nbsp;offend someone
    Gender and sexuality isn't black or white. If you're not careful about what you say, you could offend someone with a microagression by saying something like, "You're a lesbian, but you're so pretty," or "Why would you want to be a girl when you're already a hot guy?" You may think you're being polite, but comments like that may be hurtful.
  • 9. Educate yourself.
    It is not your LGBTQ classmates' duty to tell you their stories. So do your homework a little by taking a gender and sexualit
    It is not your LGBTQ classmates' duty to tell you their stories. So do your homework a little by taking a gender and sexuality class, volunteering at a local crisis line or joining a sexual health advocacy group.

 

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