Hello prospective Trojans, my name is Angélica and I am an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission at USC. This is my second blog post in a series that focuses on USC resources for groups historically underrepresented in higher education. As a follow-up to my first blog about the first-generation college student experience, I’ll interview current students and the Directors of our Multicultural Centers: El Centro Chicano, Asian Pacific American Student Services, Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, and the LGBTQ Resource Center.
This week, to celebrate the end of LGBT History Month, I’ll be focusing on the LGBTQ Resource Center and the Rainbow Floor in Residential Life. The LGBTQ Resource Center is located on the 2nd floor of the Student Union Building (STU 202C) and has the Lavender Lounge, a special space for LGBT identified students and allies to relax and hang out. The Lavender Lounge offers free printing to all students, as well as snacks with coffee and tea.
In recent years, the LGBTQ Resource Center, along with student support, has been working on making USC a transgender and nonbinary welcoming space. Broadly speaking, transgender people are individuals whose gender expression and/or gender identity differs from conventional expectations based on the physical sex they were born into. The word transgender is an umbrella term which is often used to describe a wide range of identities and experiences. Nonbinary people are individuals who choose to not identify as either female or male. For more information about trans student experience at USC, please visit Trans@USC.
In a recent conversation with Michael Gorse, LGBTQ Center Supervisor, he and I spoke about the resources for students seeking to change their gender identity at USC. For example, students can work with the Title IX Office, which oversees compliance with federal mandates related to equal opportunity, non-discrimination, and harassment, to receive accommodations based on their gender identity. The Title IX Office will send out letters to professors specifying that they must comply with a student’s name and gender identity, in an effort to comply with California’s newly passed Gender Recognition Act of 2017.
Piril, the Resident Assistant (RA) for the Rainbow Floor on campus is a sophomore from San Diego studying Electrical Engineering. We spoke about her “Coming Out” story and why she chose to be the RA for the Rainbow Floor.
According to Piril, USC was the last school she saw herself attending. She described herself as a student activist in high school, having advocated for two years in her high school to have Rainbow Week recognized by her school administration. Her initial impressions of USC were that it was a dormant campus. But, after being invited to interview for a scholarship, her views on campus activism changed. She realized that the student body was active in many different ways, mostly in community outreach.
Piril talked about “Coming Out” to her family in high school. In her words, “I was lucky. I knew my family loved me and wouldn’t turn their back on me for being queer.” However, while she wanted to live on the Rainbow Floor as a freshman, she did not think her parents would be ok with gender-neutral housing so she decided to live in the Honors Housing. When asked about what tips she would give to incoming freshmen that have not come out to students, Piril said “My number one tip is that your safety comes first. You are not obligated to come out to anyone. All families are different, and it is important to aware of that when you are deciding to come out.” As the current RA for the Rainbow Floor, Piril highlights that the floor serves as a safe space for queer and transgender students. Most of the programming she has hosted has been movies night or game nights. According to her “it depends on what the residents want.”
Hopefully this post and the conversations with Michael Gorse and Piril have shown you that whether you are on the LGBTQ spectrum or an Ally, there is a space for you to define your identity at USC.