Penn State Brandywine recently gained designation from Campus Pride as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning-friendly (LGBTQ) university. The campus becomes one of only 10 universities and colleges from across Pennsylvania granted this classification.
According to its website, Campus Pride is the leading national nonprofit organization for students and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. The main goal of Campus Pride is to create resources, programs and services to support LGBTQ and ally students on college campuses across the United States.
Brandywine was named to the organization’s Campus Pride Index – a national listing of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.
Student aid coordinator Kevin Armalay and Abe Zubarev, who manages counseling services, successfully applied for the designation. The two are campus liaisons for the University’s Coalition for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (CSOGI), a network of campus officials at the Commonwealth Campuses.
“There are a number of people in the faculty, staff and student body that are actively interested in addressing these concerns and trying to promote diversity and inclusion to make this campus a welcoming place for people from different backgrounds,” said Zubarev.
“We’re continuously looking at having more resources available to our students,” Armalay added. One such resource is a virtual collection of scholarly materials related to LGBTQ topics found in the Brandywine library.
The team, along with Director of Enrollment Management Deborah Erie, also provides Safe Zone training to faculty and staff at Penn State Brandywine. Campus employees who complete the training become resources that students can turn to when in need. The Safe Zone program supports Penn State’s mission of providing a culturally diverse and mutually respectful environment where every member of the University community can feel safe, respected and accepted. Students, staff, faculty and community members who are looking for an affirming place to discuss LGBTQ-related concerns on campus are encouraged to seek out the many offices displaying the Safe Zone image.
Sophomore Kyler Jones, who serves as the president of the Brandywine Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) student club, explained that the GSA provides members and non-members of the LGBTQ communities a forum for campus unity and support, adding that “many students who have sexual identities that may not be as tolerated and accepted in the mainstream need guidance and support when adjusting to the college environment.”
The campus’ designation comes at a significant time in United States history, as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage across all 50 states was announced on June 26.
“LGBT rights are the civil rights of our students’ generation,” said Armalay. “It took a long time to get to where we are today.”