Since its inception in 2004, the Gender and Sexuality Center has been an important resource for members of the university community hoping to learn and discuss issues regarding gender and sexuality. What began as a small room on the outskirts of campus has grown into a busy headquarters for students and faculty alike. Now located in the Student Activity Center, the GSC is a friendly and welcoming environment that provides women and members of the LGBTQA community a safe space to explore issues that are important to them.
Not everything in the GSC is serious business, however. Throughout the day, students can be found relaxing on the couches, playing board games or stopping by for a quick catch-up between classes.
“People make this their home; they come back and forth between classes,” said Ixchel Rosal, the director of the GSC.
The center also serves as a base for many student organizations, such as the Queer Student Alliance and the Feminist Action Project, providing them with a place to plan and organize in a relaxed atmosphere.
The GSC is an active and ever-growing venue, hosting large events like the Lavender Graduation, a ceremony honoring graduating LGBTQ and ally students, and small events, such as Knowledge and Noms, an informal lunch time lecture.
Many campus clubs and organizations have been born from the space, including Queer Chorus, which was formed by a group of music-loving students who met at the center. Peers for Pride, a peer facilitation program that explores the current state of affairs in the LGBT community through monologue and performance, is also based at the GSC.
Beyond being a place for community, the GSC is an educational resource. The center’s lending library is filled with books on topics ranging from feminist theory, masculinity and health, to coming out stories and LGBT fiction, as well as many magazines and DVDs that are available for checkout.
With support from the university, the center has been able to expand its reach; assisting students and faculty with education and awareness regarding LGBTQA and gender issues, which can constantly change and evolve. The education outreach program often visits classrooms to enhance the curriculum with information or help address issues that may come up in classes.
In addition to education, the center also provides walk-in advising to offer support and resources to those in need, including information on safe-sex practices and counseling.
As Rosal explains, the center is an open and receptive place for any member of the UT family looking to broaden their understanding of issues regarding gender and sexuality, as well as those seeking a like-minded community.
“What I appreciate about what we’ve been able to put together is that things really span the gamut, from small to large, formal to informal and personal to communal,” Rosal said. “Hopefully everyone can find a way to engage.”