Recommendations to Better Support 2SLGBTQ+ Students on Campus
As 2SLGBTQ+ students are becoming more comfortable being visible, it is now more important than ever to look at the needs of the student populations, how those needs are evolving, and examine how to improve access and dismantle barriers on campus.
1. Decenter hetero-normativity and cis-normativity
Reviewing data collection methods can be useful to ensure that the information being collected is relevant to the services being provided and informing students of how the information will be used. For more information, review the CICMH webinar on compassionate data collection review data collection method.
In this webinar, Dr. Deb Chiodo from CAMH and Daniel Murcia Monroy from Casey House talk about why we should be collecting demographic data and how this data can be effectively used to promote equity in supporting students with their mental health.
Other changes that can help decenter cisgender and heterosexual normativity is the creation of de-gendered spaces such as gender-neutral bathrooms, locker rooms, and student housing. Ensuring that enough of these spaces are installed across campus increases student access and can help build a more inclusive and welcoming campus climate for 2SLGBTQ+ students.
Another important recommendation is to develop strategies to eliminate the “dead naming” of trans* students on campus – both in classes and on official documentation (Goldberg, 2018).
Note: To learn about “dead naming”, visit the toolkit glossary page.
2. Support 2SLGBTQ+ Staff and Faculty
Research has shown that queer staff and faculty also encounter bullying and harassment based on their gender and/or sexuality (Veldhuis, 2022; Statistics Canada, 2020; Whitfield, 2014). Bolstering anti-oppressive practices and policies to protect queer staff and faculty can help to develop a campus culture that supports and encourages safety in 2SLGBTQ+ visibility.
Staff development workshops facilitated by queer organizations can help to increase the knowledge base and support the development of a more inclusive campus.
- Education & Training | Rainbow Health Ontario
- Training & Workshops – Egale
- Education and Training Services – The 519
3. Build community connections
Developing referral partnerships with community organizations that have knowledge and capacity to support specific student needs that may not be addressed through on-campus services.
For further supports, check out our Campus-Community Partnerships toolkit
Community connections can also be built on campus through the development of services that focus on the specific needs of minoritized queer identities.
4. Champion Student Initiatives
Supporting 2SLGBTQ+ student-led programs and services that are addressing the needs of their peers. Having dedicated spaces for queer students to connect with and receive support from their peers gives them the opportunity to build community and foster resilience. Championing these groups and programs can help build trusting relationships that are integral to student perceptions of safety on campus.
5. Incorporate a co-design model into your practices when possible
Consulting with queer communities and student groups when developing initiatives to address their on-campus experiences can help ensure that your programs meet the needs of the target populations. Co-design can be an act of allyship – To learn more, CICMH has a webinar on Engagement and Co-Design.
In this webinar, Support House’s Centre for Innovation in Peer Support provides valuable insights utilizing their expertise in lived, living, family & caregiver experience within mental health and substance use/addictions.
6. Recognize the importance of language
Language evolves at a community level. A great way to support 2SLGBTQ+ students on campus is looking towards their communities for guidance on how to use terminology that not only speaks to their experiences but also respects their realities. It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to queer terminology, and different communities (and individuals) may have different approaches and uses for certain terms. Consulting on-campus groups, community agencies, or the resources in this toolkit are good places to start.
Another way to support 2SLGBTQ+ students is to ensure that the language being used to outreach to or relay information about these populations speaks specifically to those communities. Avoid conflating the experiences of different communities, speak specifically to the populations you are addressing.
Address the specific healthcare needs of trans* students
Many trans* and gender variant students don’t have access to gender affirming healthcare. Staff education on trans* health and building out supports to help trans* and gender variant students navigate health care systems and supporting access to resources for specific needs (e.g.: medical transitioning, gender marker changes, sexual health information, etc.) can help build trust and challenge barriers trans* students may otherwise face.
For more information on how to support Trans* students review the following resources:
- Trans Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Toolkit
by Wisdom to Action and SPECTRUM Waterloo.
- LGBTQ Thriving on Campus Study