This year, I was fortunate to get to attend the 5th Annual CCC LGBTQ+ Conference. The conference theme for 2023 was “Fiercer Together: uplifting queer and trans students on our campuses.” Throughout the California Community Colleges, support has expanded for LGBTQ+ students, bolstered by the recent, one-time allocation of $10 million dollars in the Postsecondary Education Trailer Bill.

Over twenty of California’s community colleges sponsored this year’s event. New research initiatives were announced by the system’s RP Group and the Foundation for California Community Colleges. (Please see “Resources” at the end of this post for opportunities to participate in online or real world groups and events! ) Conference session recordings will be posted in the Vision Resource Center in the coming weeks, which can be accessed through Mt. SAC POD Connect, our local connection to the Vision Resource Center.

In this post, I will highlight the session by Rubeen Guardado, a policy analyst from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. Founded in 2001, the Williams Institute is the leading research center on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. Guardado presented the session, ” Community College and the Experiences of LGBTQ: Findings from a National Probability Survey,” sharing valuable data on the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in community colleges. This study used data from the Access to Higher Education Survey, which included 1,068 students (567 identified as LGBTQ+) between the ages of 18-40 who had attended community college at some point in their lives.  There are a few topline statistics from this presentation that seem useful for anyone teaching in the CCC system.

Nearly a third (32.7%) of LGBTQ people 18 to 40 reported that they attended community college at some point in their lives.

Kerith J. Conron, Kathryn K. O’Neill, and Michelle A. Marzullo. May 2022. Community College and the Experiences of LGBTQ People: Findings from a National Probability Survey. Williams Institute, UCLA.

According to this study, nearly a third of LGBTQ participants reported attending community college at some point in their lives. Also worth noting: “a majority (74.8%) of LGBTQ people reported not being ‘out’ as being LGBTQ to any of their teachers or staff, and 56.2% of LGBTQ people were not ‘out’ to any other students at their community college.” Despite this, LGBTQ students were more likely than non-LGBTQ students to report discrimination, harassment, and mental health struggles during their time in community college.

Guardado also drew from a second study from 2023 (Kerith J. Conron, Kathryn K. O’Neill, Mariella Arredondo, and Rubeen Guardado. February 2023. Educational Experiences of LGBTQ People of Color. Williams Institute, UCLA) that looked specifically at LGBTQ+ people of color (POC) across higher education institutions. This study found more than twice as many LGBTQ people of color (POC) as White LGBTQ (14.6% vs. 6.5%) people reported experiencing barriers at school in the form of unfair treatment, harassment, or bullying due to being LGBTQ that affected getting the amount of education, training, or degrees that they wanted. In reviewing school-level indicators of LGBTQ inclusion, this study identified the presences of an LGBTQ student resource center, an LGBTQ student organization, and gender-neutral bathrooms as important indicators for inclusion. Additionally, a policy allowing transgender students to change their gender designation was a key indicator for inclusion. Counseling services, health services, and the inclusion of LGBTQ students in public discussions of multicultural or diversity issues by executives were all noted as inclusivity indicators.

LGBTQ+ Inclusivity at Mt. SAC

Cara Tan, our Pride Center Faculty Coordinator was in attendance, so I reached out to her for input on the resources and initiatives that are available or in process at Mt. SAC. Mt. SAC has been active in creating indicators of belonging for our LGBTQ+ students and employees. Here are just a few ways MT. SAC currently offers support:

  • The Mt. SAC Pride Center serves as a resource center for students and employees.
    • LGBTQ+ friendly mental health and academic counseling resources available through the Pride Center web page
    • The Pride Center has a student Canvas Hub where students can learn more and be part of a community.
    • Faculty can also get updates on Pride Center events and opportunities for involvement.
    • Students can sign up for academic or mental health counseling directly through the Pride Center.
    • The Pride Center website includes health guides specific to LGBTQ+ concerns
  • Mt. SAC All-gender bathroom guide
  • Preferred name support allows students to change their chosen first name in a way that propagates into Canvas and other systems.
  • Lavender graduation (check Pride Center web page for details): This year’s lavender graduation is May 22, 2023 from 4-6pm in Founders Hall.

“There are lots of opportunities for faculty to be involved with our local efforts to support LGBTQ+ students at Mt. SAC.”

Cara Tan, Pride Center Faculty Coordinator at mt. SAC

Inclusive Practices for Professors

In addition to the many resources provided here where you can find more information and expand your participation and/or allyship with the LGBTQ+ community, here are just a few easy ways to improve your LGBTQ+ inclusive practices:

  • Vary your use of pronouns to include they/them, not just he/she in course content, messages, and announcements.
  • Use diverse representation in class graphics. Here are some course design resources that offer a few places to find images that can diversify your online course space.
  • Use the Peralta Online Equity Rubric to explore suggestions for how to represent many different people and groups in your courses.
  • Seek out other equity training resources offered at Mt. SAC and through the Canvas Community Colleges system (see some resources below).

Want to learn more and participate?

Local Faculty Opportunities to Support the Pride Center

The Mt. SAC Pride Center wants faculty involvement for a few projects under development. First, the Pride Center is working on faculty professional development opportunities. They are seeking professors to participate in focus groups that will inform this training. Second, the Pride Center is seeking faculty input to diversify representation in curriculum across disciplines. Join a curriculum development group to help expand inclusion in Mt. SAC curriculum.

If you are interested in participating in focus group or curriculum development, or if you’d like to get involved as a mentor, please email Cara Tan and mention the project that interests you.

Regional Convening May 12 at Irvine Valley College

Consider attending the free, in-person Regional Convening for Southern California at Irvine Valley College Friday, May 12 , 2023 from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. These convenings have been funded by the Chancellors office and do not cost anything to attend; both a continental breakfast and lunch will be provided to attendees. 

Additional Resources

Check out these additional opportunities to be an ally and support LGBTQ+ initiatives in the California Community Colleges.

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