There are so many different aspects that you need to look at when selecting the right college. Location, food, academics, athletics, community service record, and tuition are all important pieces, yet there is one piece that seems so unimportant to most people, but means the world to people like me. That piece is LGBTQIA friendliness.
When I began the process of choosing Nazareth as my home for four years, I was freshly new to being openly gay. I wasn’t used to everyone knowing, and frankly, it scared me. My hometown wasn’t very understanding of my orientation, and I was looking for a place to go where no one judged you, and you could truly be who you wanted to be. Two years into my undergraduate program and I am so happy that I chose Naz.
Nazareth has a host of programs, and a number of reasons, that make it one of the best schools to attend as an LGBTQIA student.
1) Lambda The Nazareth College Lambda Association is a club that meets weekly on campus. Our mission is to promote a diverse campus, a campus that welcomes all gender identities, sexual orientations, and straight allies. Lambda hosts a number of events throughout the year including National Coming Out Day, LGBTQIA Ally Luncheon, and of course, the annual Nazareth Drag Show. If you ever need to find me on campus, odds are I am at one of these events.
2) Diversity Council Diversity Council is a group of clubs at Naz that focus on educating our campus, promoting the benefits of having a diverse campus, and celebrating what it truly means to be one community. One of the clubs with a representative on the council is, of course, Lambda! These clubs will hold events in which issues of diversity and inclusion are discussed with members of the campus community.
3) Location: Rochester Nazareth’s location offers LGBTQIA students a number of events and resources off campus in addition to those offered on campus. Rochester is home to the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley, the Rochester Gay Men’s Choir, LGBT Film Festival, and Rochester Pride. Each of these groups hold events throughout the year. The Gay Men’s Choir holds many community concerts and is open to Naz students! The Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley often holds workshops here on our campus, as well as hosts some internships for Nazareth students. One of the workshops that I was honored to personally attend was their Safe Zone training.
4) Safe Zones… Safe Zones Everywhere One of the aspects of Nazareth the really caught my attention was the amount of people that are Safe Zone trained. Safe Zones are areas where anyone struggling with any aspect of being LGBT, whether it be discrimination, exclusion, harassment, fear, or even someone just looking to talk about their sexuality, can go and just talk without fear of judgement or rejection. Each and every resident assistant on campus is Safe Zone trained, as well as the Residential Life Pro-Staff (Area Directors, Graduate Resident Assistants, and Director of Residential Life). In addition, some of the programs (like nursing and social work) on campus will bring students to workshops presented by the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley, in order to receive training. Furthermore, many faculty and staff at Naz are Safe Zone trained so there is always someone you can talk to on our campus; you just have to look.
Nazareth College has devoted itself to creating and fostering a diverse, loving, and accepting campus. No one should ever feel like they don’t belong here or that they have been excluded. When choosing a school, or attending a school, as an LGBT student, things can be scary. But it they don’t have to be. I consider myself lucky to have found Nazareth, and to call it my home.