The Center for Gender and Sexuality Officially Opens

The Women’s Educational Center has merged with the Ellen Bommarito LGBTQ Center. A long time in the works, the newly created Center for Gender and Sexuality (CGS), on the second floor of UCEN, aims to fulfill the roles of its predecessors while at the same time offering a more welcoming environment for any and all who may wish to stop by.

While both centers were always safe havens for everyone, their names often deterred many from visiting and taking advantage of the resources offered. Director of CGS, Heather Johnson, explains:

“We don’t want it to be binary, we don’t want it to be specific and we also think that there were certain people that were never going to walk in the door,” said Johnson. “A young, straight cis [gender] male might not walk in the door to the Women’s Educational Center because they think it’s not for them. Even though they probably need to learn about rape culture or sexual assault just like anyone else.”

In keeping with the center’s theme of inclusiveness, it was decided its name would be voted on by students. And so, The Center for Gender and Sexuality was born.

“An individual is never just one thing. You’re not just a female or just white or just lesbian. You have all of these multiple identities,” said Johnson. “So, how do we think about gender and sexuality broadly and understand how they change or [how] they come into your daily contact? We think that this name change will allow us to do this in a much more far-reaching way.”

Previously, when both centers were separated, there was not enough staff available for students who had questions to be answered or events that needed planning. This created an issue not only for the few people in charge of each center, but also for the students seeking help.

“Traditionally, the Ellen Bommarito LGBTQ Center had a very small staff–at one point it was a half-time graduate assistant, that was it. There was actually a full-time staff person eventually put into that role, but it was one person,” said Johnson. “…so our problem was that a student would come into either center and the person wouldn’t be available so they were not getting the help or resources they needed.”

Taking a step forward in solving this issue, more staff members were hired. Those already in the center were also made sure to be well-versed in all things gender and sexuality so no student’s questions were left unanswered.

Since the centers re-opening, many new events have been planned and hosted to help educate and inform those who may be looking for some answers or just want to meet new people. These events include:

  • Women Crush Wednesday, which is held every Wednesday from 1:45 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. in 213 UCEN to ‘honor and salute women who are challenging stereotypical norms and changing the world.’
  • Queer Thursdays, held every Thursday from 1:45 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. in 213 UCEN to ‘grab a snack, chat about school, queer theory, share your ideas, spill that Tea about Ru’s Drag Race, etc.’
  • Peer Education Series, which is a workshop designed to educate students about ‘healthy relationships, trans 101, inclusive safe sex education and more.’

For a full list of events the happen weekly or monthly, visit the Center for Gender and Sexuality’s website.