Editorial—Initiative for LGBTQ+ priority housing a must

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“Gay Pride” by Dave Pitt is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Akasha Khalsa

There is currently an initiative on campus gathering information and pushing for the creation of two LGBTQ+ priority and gender-blind houses in the on-campus residence halls.

An on-campus residence hall that not only includes but is created with the express purpose of safety and a sense of community for LGBTQ+ persons is invaluable. Everyone needs a safe place to consider home, a place free from judgment, and where one can feel comfortable in their self-expression and honestly, survival. 

There’s one huge thing that needs to be considered here, and that is the mental wellbeing of LGBTQ+ students. It’s hard enough in this world, this country, even this county to be LGBTQ+. Having these dorms and a greater sense of community would greatly benefit the mental health of LGBTQ+ students.

Along with normal college stressors, there is a lot of stress and potential anxiety tied to living in a dorm with people who potentially don’t support you or who are even outwardly homophobic or transphobic. Rooming blind as an LGBTQ+ student can be really terrifying because of that, and these LGBTQ+ priority dorms would alleviate some of that anxiety by almost guaranteeing or at least providing some security that most of the students around you would accept and support you for who you are.

“Somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender people deal with anxiety and depression at some point in their lives. That rate is 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than that of their straight or gender-conforming counterparts,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Hopefully, these dorms could help provide at least some reassurance to people who already have statistically high rates of anxiety and depression by being in a large and supportive community.

For many LGBTQ+ people, college is something they look forward to throughout all of their adolescent life because of the chance at self-expression and discovery, free from the potential judgment of family members or that of a local community. The ability to have housing in a university setting, surrounded by an entirely new community, facilitates growth, both personal and for the “coming out” experience to be safer and more comfortable. If there were to be an LGBTQ+ priority dorm at NMU, that could in fact become a draw for potential students.

A sense of community is something that can be hard to find especially in a place far away from home. The creation of LGBTQ+ halls would only help students make friends and meet people who know the struggles of family members who might not understand. It also opens up the opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to meet others in the community. 

There are already halls on campus that are only male and only female, these being Mountain House and Aspen Haus which are considered ‘legacy’ halls, so it only makes sense that we have halls that accommodate those who want different options. It seems forward-thinking that anyone can live in the halls and you don’t necessarily have to be LGBTQ+ to live there. Perhaps this initiative will open the door to more theme communities living at NMU.

Of course, there remain questions about the logistics of how this project will turn out. Would there be enough people who are out and willing to be open about their sexuality to fill the hall? Which halls would they be? What would the rules be? Everyone would have to be on the same page in many different respects such as being comfortable rooming with people of different genders and sexes.

NMU has more steps to take before putting this idea into action. However, we hope that NMU chooses to pursue this innovation and make it happen, hopefully within the next few years. NMU has an opportunity here to make a statement about their support for the LGBTQ+ community and show they are willing to make students feel comfortable. This would be groundbreaking, as well as a step in the right direction for inclusivity on campus.