Mason among Best Campuses for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students

Posted: August 10, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

With programs such as Safe Zone and activities such as Pride Week, the George Mason community has witnessed the university make great strides over the years in welcoming and respecting students of diverse sexual orientations and genders.

Now that progress has national recognition.

Mason was recently recognized by Campus PrideNet as one of the 100 best campuses for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and is included in “The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students,” the first comprehensive campus guide to highlight the most LGBT-friendly campuses in the United States.

Mason’s positive environment, student organizations and faculty, staff and student training programs were some of the reasons cited for the distinction.

“At Mason, the LGBT community is seen as one brightly colored fabric in a tapestry of many diverse groups,” says Ric Chollar, Office of Diversity Programs and Services assistant director for LGBT services. “From religious and ethnic to academic organizations on campus, LGBT students are actively involved in programming on many issues to make us truly diverse across the board. Our students both offer and receive countless opportunities for understanding and cultural sharing.”

The book, released Aug. 1, profiles 100 colleges and universities from across the country that offer resources and create positive living and learning environments for LGBT students. It also includes chapters on classroom and curriculum issues, campus safety concerns and counseling and health care, the latter written by Chollar.

George Mason’s three-page entry includes campus resources, social scenes and academic scenes for LGBT students. It also includes quotes from students who feel welcome and safe at Mason. “George Mason allows me to be all of who I am,” says one. “I do not have to check my race or my sexuality at the door. To be gay is welcomed; I belong here.”

The 100 campuses were selected from 680 nominated colleges based on their institutional policies, commitments and support, academic life, housing, student life, counseling and health services, campus safety and recruitment and retention efforts. George Mason is the only school in Virginia included, and one of only three, along with American University and the University of Maryland, in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

Many valuable resources and programs provided at Mason contribute to an LGBT-friendly campus environment:

  • The Safe Zone Program for students, faculty, staff and administration trains more than 100 people each year and creates a safer, more welcoming and inclusive campus environment; strengthens community; and encourages networking among faculty, staff and students toward the goal of supporting the well-being of LGBT people.

  • Pride Week, an annual program of community-building and educational activities, offers information and awareness of LGBT issues. Pride Week can include activities such as faculty presentations, activist skill building workshops, drag shows, and poetry readings.

  • Four active LGBT student organizations include Pride Alliance, an LGBT and straight ally student group; GALLA, for law students; G3, for graduate students; and TransMason, for transgender, gender-variant students and their allies.

“Being selected and recognized in this outstanding college guidebook is a tremendous honor for Mason,” says Chollar. “So many people have worked tirelessly to make Mason a place that is welcoming to LGBT students. While we still have much more to accomplish, it’s great to be acknowledged for the progress we’ve made so far.”

For more information about Campus PrideNet or to order a copy of “The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students,” visit www.campuspride.net.

For more information on Mason’s LGBT programs and services, visit LGBTQ.gmu.edu or contact Chollar at 703-993-2702 or rchollar@gmu.edu.

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