By Lynn Caraway/reporter
Attendees educated about community, provided health resources, safe-space information
Community outreach specialists “came out” with helpful information to support students at the LGBTQ+ Resource Fair.
Bright colored tables with fliers, buttons, condoms, candy and balloons along with a backdrop of the LGBTQ acronym lined TR’s Main Street for the come-and-go event.
“This is the first time our campus is hosting an LGBTQ+ specific resource fair for students and community members,” TR student development associate Cortney Walden said. “This is our third year celebrating LGBTQ+ culture and I felt it was necessary to provide students with resources specific to their needs.”
One community partner in attendance was LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S., a local non-profit organization, that was represented by Teresa Flannery, a youth leader for the organization.
“Students are looking for a place where they can be themselves — where they are accepted and supportive of each other,” Flannery said regarding the value of events such as the LGBTQ+ Resource Fair.
Other community partners featured at the fair included My Health My Resources of Tarrant County and the Health Education Learning Project, a national group that advocates for LGBTQ health and wellness that operates telephone helplines and offers free medication and testing for those with HIV.
TR student Colton Arellano attended the fair and noted his appreciation for not only the event, but also the community sponsors in attendance because it was nice to know they care for LGBTQ students and are there to support them, he said.
“Most students want the same basic needs of inclusion and equality, they want a sense of belonging and security,” he said.
Providing health resources to members of the LGBTQ community is important, but so is meeting other needs of LGBTQ students. Walden said students typically request social resources more than anything else.
“There are not a lot of safe places in Fort Worth for ‘out’ LGBTQ+ people to go in an alcohol-free environment,” Walden said. “Most social places revolve around nightclubs and bars for older crowds, and we are hoping to find others.”
TR’s Equality in Education club is an LGBTQ friendly club and one way the campus strives to provide a safe space for students.
“The mission of TREE is to make sure policies and procedures are inclusive of LGBTQ+ students,” Walden said.
TREE is a social resource for students on campus where they can connect and talk with others in the LGBTQ community, she said. TREE will meet at 3 p.m., Nov. 11 in the Idea Store on TR.
Another way the campus strives to meet the needs of LGBTQ students is through Safe Space Trainings, which address the needs of those students and explains why LGBTQ community members are considered “at risk,” Walden said, adding that the training is offered on all five campuses throughout each semester.
“We want to make college a positive experience for LGBTQ+ students and address their specific needs,” Walden said.