Resources for LGBTQIQA Students
L (Lesbian); G (Gay); B (Bisexual); T (Transgender); Q (Queer); I (Intersex); Q (Questioning); A (Ally)
The Counseling Center offers a wide range of services designed to support students in their personal and professional endeavors with the goal of promoting well-being in all life domains. LGBTQIQA students may experience difficulties during their academic careers such as:
- managing stress
- academic demands
- periods of sadness
- substance abuse
- relationship problems
- social problems
- coping with harassment or discrimination
- identity development (including sexual identity)
In fact, these are common reasons why students seek counseling services here on campus. The Counseling Center offers free, confidential counseling to any student who is interested in receiving additional support.
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Individual & Couples Counseling
Individual counseling provides LGBTQIQA students with a safe and confidential environment. Counseling at the Counseling Center is a collaborative endeavor in which the counselor and client work together to identify goals and directions for treatment.
During the Fall and Spring Semesters of each academic year, the Counseling Center offers the Queer to Questioning Group (Q2Q), which is a confidential group designed to provide support to individuals along the continuum of sexual identity exploration and/ or development.
Consultation services are available to LGBTQIQA students as well as friends, faculty, staff, and family members. These services can help provide an understanding of the available Counseling Center services and how to help support LGBTQIQA students. To access these services, please contact the Counseling Center and request a consultation, by phone or in person, for you or about someone you know.
While there's no easy way to adequately describe the campus climate at any college or university, we have addressed some questions you may have about what to expect at JMU.
Is there an active LGBTQIQA student organization?
Yes! Madison Equality is a JMU student run support organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. The primary mission of the group is to promote tolerance and acceptance through education and awareness and anyone who supports equality and queer rights is welcomed, regardless of orientation. Interested in joining? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Is there a campus office for LGBTQIQA student services?
The LGBT & Ally Education Program, located in Student Success Center, Room 1313, works toward promoting James Madison University's commitment to diversity through education, support, advocacy and the fostering of equity for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Check out their website at: http://www.jmu.edu/lgbta/
Are LGBTQIQA sensitive counseling services available?
Yes! The Counseling Center located in Varner House offers free and confidential individual, group, and couples psychotherapy, as well as consultation services. Students who are interested, or might be interested, in pursuing services are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center at (540) 568-6552.
Where can I find resources on coming out?
You do not have to feel alone in the coming out process. There are several spots on campus you can receive support and get more information on what to expect, including the staff at Counseling Center, Madison Equality, and the LGBT & Ally Education Program, as well as the resource library, jmuLGBTA Library Thing, located in Student Success Center, Room 1313. Throughout this webpage you will also find local organizations, websites, and other media that may be helpful to you throughout this time.
Are other campus offices supportive and inclusive of LGBT students and issues?
Members of the JMU community strive to be as supportive and inclusive as possible of all students. A myriad of resources are available on campus that are specific to LGBTQIQA students, including housing, student health, career planning, and academic classes. For more information, visit http://www.jmu.edu/lgbta/resources.shtml.
What activities are sponsored on campus for LGBT students?
The LGBT & Ally Education Program, Student Success Center, Room 1313, coordinates speakers, films, and other events throughout the academic year on campus. In addition, you will find an LGBTQ Resource Library with books, periodicals, videos, and other resources, and a hangout space, which is available to all members of the campus community. For updated information, visit http://www.jmu.edu/lgbta/index.shtml. In addition, graduating seniors are encouraged to attend the Lavender Graduation Ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments at JMU!
Madison Equality also offers on-campus events. For an updated schedule of events, visit https://beinvolved.jmu.edu/organization/madisonequality/events.
Are supportive faculty and staff easily identifiable?
JMU's Safe Zone, which is a voluntary network of faculty, staff and students who believe that every member of the university community should have an equal opportunity to grow and learn in a safe and open environment, are easily identifiable. Just look for the stickers posted on campus! And just an FYI, nearly all staff at the Counseling Center have undergone Safe Zone training. Chances are, when you make an appointment at Varner House, you will see a Safe Zone sticker on your counselor's door.
Is there a procedure for reporting LGBTQIQA-related bias incidents and hate crimes? How does the school respond to such incidents? What should I do if I am being harassed for being LGBTQIQ or Ally?
You can anonymously report harassment incidents at http://www.jmu.edu/safezone/dartpat.shtml. All reports are taken very seriously!
The official JMU harassment and discrimination policy and reporting procedure can be found here: http://www.jmu.edu/JMUpolicy/1324.shtml
What LGBTQIQA support is offered in Greek life? How about athletics?
Many individuals involved in both Greek and the athletic communities have undergone Safe Zone training. The LGBT & Ally Education Program, Madison Equality, and the Counseling Center are here to answer any questions you have, or offer any support you might need.
How are sexual orientation and gender identity determined?
"No one knows exactly how sexual orientation and gender identity [are] determined. However, experts agree that it is a complicated matter of genetics, biology, psychological and social factors. For most people, sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped at any early age. While research has not determined a cause, homosexuality and gender variance are not the result of any one factor like parenting or past experiences. It is never anyone's 'fault' if they or their loved one grows up to be LGBT (PFLAG, 2013)." For more information and other great resources, visit http://www.jmu.edu/safezone/educate.shtml.
How does someone know they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?
"Some people say that they have 'felt different' or knew they were attracted to people of the same sex from the time they were very young. Some transgender people talk about feeling from an early age that their gender identity did not match parental and social expectations. Others do not figure out their sexual orientation or gender identity until they are adolescents or adults. Often it can take a while for people to put a label to their feelings, or people's feelings may change over time. Understanding our sexuality and gender can be a lifelong process, and people shouldn't worry about labeling themselves right away. However, with positive images of LGBT people more readily available, it is becoming easier for people to identify their feelings and come out at earlier ages. People don't have to be sexually active to know their sexual orientation – feelings and emotions are as much a part of one's identity. The short answer is that you'll know when you know (PFLAG, 2013)."
Should I talk to a loved one about his or her sexual orientation or gender identity before the person talks to me?
"It's seldom appropriate to ask a person, 'Are you gay?' Your perception of another person's sexual orientation (gay or straight) or gender identity (male or female) is not necessarily what it appears. No one can know for sure unless the person has actually declared that they are gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender. PFLAG recommends creating a safe space by showing your support of LGBT issues on a non-personal level. For example, take an interest in openly discussing and learning about topics such as same-sex marriage or LGBT rights in the workplace. Learn about LGBT communities and culture. Come out as an ally, regardless of if your friend or loved one is LGBT. Read PFLAG's Dos and Don'ts for Friends and Families to get some tips should the "coming out day" happen. Your ultimate goal is to provide a safe space for your loved one to approach you when he or she is ready without fear of negative consequences (PFLAG, 2013)."
How do I come out to my family and friends?
"There are many questions to consider before coming out. Are you comfortable with your sexuality and gender identity/expression? Do you have support? Can you be patient? What kind of views do your friends and family have about homosexuality and gender variance? Are you financially dependent on your family? Make sure you have thought your decision through, have a plan and supportive people you can turn to. Just as you needed to experience different stages of acceptance for yourself, family and loved ones will need to go through a similar process.
PFLAG was founded because of the unconditional love of parents for their gay children. Your loved ones will need time to adjust to your news, the same way you may have needed time to come to terms with yourself. However, true acceptance is possible and happens every day, especially with education and support. Today's youth face more social pressures than ever, especially since young people are coming out at increasingly younger ages. That's why PFLAG created Be Yourself: Questions and Answers for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth a coming-out guide which provides a supportive approach to common questions asked by teens who may be questioning their sexual orientation. It also provides hotline numbers for teens and a list of resources. Also consider talking to someone from your local PFLAG chapter for more personalized tips and support (PFLAG, 2013)."
LGBT & Ally Education Program: strengthens, maintains, and promotes a campus community that welcomes all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, through education, support, advocacy, and fostering equity. Drop by Montpelier Hall, room 560, call (540)568-LGBT, or visit their website at http://www.jmu.edu/lgbta/.
Madison Equality: JMU's support community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. The primary mission of the club is to promote tolerance and acceptance through education and awareness. Madison Equality is open to anyone who is supportive of equality and queer rights, regardless of their orientation. For more information, visit https://beinvolved.jmu.edu/organization/madisonequality.
Counseling Center: provides a Queer to Questioning Group, as well an individual psychotherapy. If you are interested in pursuing these opportunities, please call (540) 568-6552, or visit http://www.jmu.edu/counselingctr/ for more information not contained on this page.
Safe Zone: Safe Zone is a voluntary network of faculty, staff and students who believe that every member of the university community should have an equal opportunity to grow and learn in a safe and open environment. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.jmu.edu/safezone/
LGBTQIQA Advisory Board: The LGBTQIQA Advisory Board, which convenes monthly during the academic year, is a network of students, faculty, and staff who focus on supporting JMU's commitment to diversity by serving as advocates and liaisons to the LGBT Program and the JMU community.
Faculty and Staff Group: If you are interested in joining the LGBTQIQ group visit: http://www.jmu.edu/lgbtfacultystaff/
Shenandoah Valley Gay and Lesbian Association: The SVGLA's purpose is to create a safe, affirming, and fun environment where members are empowered to reach their full human potential. Additional information can be found at: http://www.svgla.org/
ROSMY: ROSMY is a non-profit agency that provides support services for Richmond area gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Their youth center offers support groups, a computer lab, a library, and social opportunities for GLBTQ youth age 14-20. ROSMY also conducts trainings and workshops for adults who work with youth. Check out their website at: http://rosmy.org/
Equality Virginia: Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan lobbying, education and support network for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and straight allied (GLBT) communities in Virginia. See: http://www.equalityvirginia.org/
PFLAG Blue Ridge: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays has a local chapter located right here in Harrisonburg. Email them at email@example.com and visit their website at http://www.pflagblueridge.org/.
Shenandoah Valley YES Alliance: The mission of the Shenandoah Valley YES Alliance is to "serve, educate, empower, and celebrate our community by providing a safe, youth-centered, confidential space with access to support, resources, and social opportunities." Interested in getting more information? Visit their website at: http://www.svyesalliance.org/index.html.
National Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health: The National Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health is committed to improving the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and communities. Visit their website at: http://lgbthealth.webolutionary.com/.
Lambda Youth OUTreach: LAMBDA makes youth issues a priority, and youth representation at the highest levels of LAMBDA a requirement. LAMBDA protects GLBT youth by giving them a voice, listening, and working to address identified concerns. FAQ and fact sheet publications are also available here. Visit their website at: http://www.lambda.org/main.htm.
Human Rights Campaign: HRC publishes three excellent 'coming out guides.' Check out their website at: http://hrc.org/.
Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network: GLSEN is an education organization ensuring safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Visit their website at: www.glsen.org.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media. Visit their website at: http://www.glaad.org/.
Campus PrideNet: Campus PrideNet is a national online community and resource network committed to student leaders and campus organizations who work to create a safer campus environment free of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexism and genderism at colleges and universities. Visit their website at: http://www.campuspride.org/.
PFLAG Blue Ridge: PFLAG Blue Ridge offers free, monthly community groups for anyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning, as well as parents, family, friends, and allies. Interested? Email PFLAG Blue Ridge at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their site for more information: http://www.pflagblueridge.org/.
PFLAG Bisexuality 101 Resource packet: Contains lots of useful information regarding bisexuality, including FAQs, health information specific to the bisexual community, and additional resources. You can view the packet at: http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/BisexualityResourcePacket.pdf.
PFLAG Publication: Provides answers to questions commonly asked by parents of gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. You can view the publication at: http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Our_Daughters_and_Sons_Final_03.pdf
Counseling Center Village: Features a wide range of resources for mental health professionals, including virtual pamphlets, practice and training resources, and research publications. For more information, visit http://ccvillage.buffalo.edu/wip/Version6/index.htm.
Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere: National and international organization specifically supporting young people with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender parents. Visit their website at: http://www.colage.org/.