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LGBTQ+ FAQ for Parents

West Virginia University LGBTQ+ Commission

What does LGBTQ+ mean? 

  • LGBTQ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and other gender and sexual identities. These terms are used to describe a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 

What are gender pronouns and why do they matter? 

  • Gender pronouns reflect a person’s gender identity. These pronouns may include they/them, he/him, she/her, or other gender inclusive pronouns. Recognizing an individual for their identity and respecting that identity is important for nurturing inclusion and making them feel respected and supported. 

How welcoming is WVU for LGTBQ+ students? 

  • According to the Campus Pride Index, WVU is currently rated 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. Since 2007, the Campus Pride Index has given prospective students and their families an opportunity to review a database of campuses from around the country with detailed information of their LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs and practices. 
  • WVU is by far the most welcoming institution in the state for LGBTQ+ students, according to Campus Pride and scores at least a 4 out of 5 in every category rated by the Campus Pride Index. The University received 5 out of 5 for “support and institutional commitment,” “academic life,” “student life,” and “housing and residence life.” 

What resources are available at the LGBTQ Center? 

  • The LGBTQ+ Center provides a warm, comfortable atmosphere for organizing, socializing, teaching, and learning. We welcome all students, staff, faculty, and community members to come and join us. The LGBTQ+ Center offers inclusive programming and outreach initiatives for WVU students, faculty, staff, and broader community members. We collaborate with and support the University’s larger social justice efforts by providing inclusive, academic, and curricular development training on all WVU campuses, by advocating for members of our community, and by building coalitions. We also work throughout the state to improve understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues.
  • The LGBTQ+ Center provides weekly programing that may interest any student. Their staff also provides support to LGBTQ+ students. 

What is the LGBTQ+ Commission? 

  • The WVU LGBTQ+ Commission collaborates with and supports the WVU LGBTQ+ Center’s mission of improving the University’s climate, policies, and resources for all members of the WVU LGBTQ+ community, including students, faculty & staff.
  • The LGBTQ+ Commission monitors institutional policies and procedures to ensure that these polices and proceduresy are fully implemented in accord with WVU’s codified Board of Governors (BOG) Governance Rule 1.6 with respect to sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Wherever necessary, the LGBTQ+ Commission will propose, elevate, and promulgate new policies aimed at promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion to WVU’s leadership.
  • The LGBTQ+ Commission participates frequently in the LGBTQ+ Center’s inclusive programming and outreach initiatives and supports its larger social justice efforts by advocating for members of our community and building coalitions.
  • Leadership and Membership

What resources are available for parents of LGBTQ+ students at WVU? 

  • The LGBTQ+ Commission will be collaborating with the Parents Club to plan and organize upcoming “Conversations with Mountaineer Parents Club.” 
  • The LGBTQ+ Center provides programming and academic resources for WVU students, faculty, staff, and community members. Situated in Academic Affairs and reporting to the Office of the Provost, the Center helps enact the academic mission of the modern land grant university. The LGBTQ+ Center support the university’s educational social justice efforts through training, classes, and advocacy on WVU campuses and across the state. Attention to LGBTQ-related inequities also requires addressing all aspects of inequality, including homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and ableism, to name a few.

How can I encourage my LGBTQ+ student to get involved with student organizations and other opportunities for connection at WVU?

  • WVU has more than 450 student organizations. The Office of Student Engagement and Leadership keeps an active calendar of events and meetings for the various organizations. These organizations serve a variety of interests such as community service, cultural, arts and music, social, learning, and athletic, to name a few. 
  • Engage at WVU

How can I best support my LGBTQ+ student while they are attending WVU? 

  • There are a multitude of ways to approach this question; the reality is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. The work ultimately starts with you. Begin by creating (and maintaining) an open and confirming dialogue between you and your student. Remain involved in their life (i.e., school, friendships, relationships, successes, and struggles) during their time at WVU.
  • If possible, attend campus events. Contact the LGBTQ+ commissioners about how to handle particular issues that may arise or reach out to the Mountaineer Parents Club about issues and participate in future “Conversations with Mountaineer Parents Club.” 
  • Consider getting involved with the “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays” (PFLAG) chapter in your community. Embrace a team approach to providing support. 

How can I support my LGBTQ+ student’s mental health while they at school? 

  • Maintain a supportive nature and encourage them to get involved in campus activities. If they are in need of support, encourage them to visit the Carruth Center, which is dedicated to fostering a supportive learning environment for all students. The Carruth Center for Counseling and Psychological Services providesservices and programs  designated to support students through various experiences, help them succeed in college, and guide them toward a more fulfilling life. We strive to provide these services in an atmosphere that is welcoming, comfortable, and multiculturally sensitive for all students, faculty, and staff.  

How can I encourage dialogue and show my LGBTQ+ student that they are loved? What does it mean to be a LGBTQ+ ally?

  • Being an ally takes action. Allies learn about historic LGBTQ+ issues and events and become informed on current and historic LGBTQ+ issues and events. Allies use their voice and power to advocate for equity and inclusivity and champion policies to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination and victimization. 

What regional or national resources you would suggest for parents of LGBTQ+ students? 

A lot of advocates start with a list of three: Know the terminology, recognize the humanity, and know the issues. 

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