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Online Safe Space Hand Book

Marshall University






Letter From Doug and Rebecca

LGBTO Mission & Program Goals and Objectives

University Policies

Things you should know as an Ally

  • Four Basic Levels of Becoming an Ally

  • Five Concepts to Keep in Mind

  • Homophobic Levels of Attitude

  • Positive Levels of Attitude

Coming Out: A Basic Understanding of the Issues

Working with Questioning Students

Obstacles to overcome in Developing a Positive LGBT Identity

Problem Solving

Homophobia, Heterosexism, and Sexual Prejudice

Common Questions and Responses


Resources for LGBT Students

Quick Reference Call Sheet

Dear Safe Space Participant,

      The Marshall University Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Outreach would like to welcome you to our training program and thank you for making the choice to become a member of the Marshall University Safe Space Network.

     College is the Number one place LGBT individuals “Come Out” and for that reason it’s important to have an effective support system in place that provides safe spaces where LGBT students can go for information, resources, or just a place to talk. As safe space participants you are instrumental in helping enrich, empower, educate, and advocate for the campus LGBT community.

     It is our hope that this training session will provide you with the tools and information needed to make a difference in the lives of LGBT students during their time here at Marshall. While there is no definitive guide to address every issue that may arise, we hope that this handbook and training session will give you some direction. Should you have any questions you may contact the LGBT Outreach or counseling services for additional assistance.

     Again, we thank you for your choice to become a safe space member and hope that you find the program as rewarding as those students who you will be helping.


                                         Douglas Evans & Rebecca Wass


                                         Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Outreach


“Inclusiveness: The provision of equal opportunity to achieve and succeed, fostering social and professional networking and shared success, while building a greater sense of community and citizenship.”

-          Marshall University Strategic Theme

Strategic vision plan

LGBT Outreach Mission 

     The Marshall University Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Outreach works to create, sustain, and strengthen an open, safe, equal, and inclusive campus community for students, faculty, and staff of all sexual orientations and gender identities. This is accomplished by providing counseling referrals, LGBT resources, programming, and safe spaces intended to enrich, empower, educate, and advocate for Marshall’s LGBT community; while also recognizing the importance of creating opportunities for allied community members to learn about issues facing the LGBT population in order help foster an open, equal, and inclusive academic climate.


Safe Space Program Goals and Objectives

·         Identify and mobilize a network of Faculty, Staff, and students who are empathetic and knowledgeable about LGBT issues and concerns 

·         Create and encourage a campus culture that is safe, secure, diverse, and accepting to all

·         Promote awareness of safe locations indicated by the safe space logo;

·         Provide resources for LGBT members of the campus community;

·         Identify heterosexual allies that support LGBT individuals; and providing safe space training that will emphasize knowledge about campus resources as well as counseling/helping skills.





     It is the policy of Marshall University to provide equal opportunities to all prospective

and current members of the student body, faculty, and staff on the basis of individual

qualifications and merit without regard to race, color, sex, religion, age, disability, national origin or sexual orientation.


    This nondiscrimination policy also applies to all programs and activities covered under

Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in higher education.


     The university ensures equality of opportunity and treatment in all areas related to

student admissions, instructions, employment, placement, accommodations, financial

assistance programs and other services. Marshall University also neither affiliates with nor grants recognition to any individual, group or organization having policies that discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, age, disability, national origin or sexual orientation.


     Further, the university is committed to the ideals of inclusion for students, faculty and

staff and whenever appropriate, will take affirmative steps to enhance diversity.


Standards, Proscribed Conduct, and Sanctions

(2005-2007 Student Handbook)

     The following standards and sanctions express the University’s expectations for student conduct, and are essential to the University’s educational mission. Participation by students in activities that violate the standards, including the proscribed behaviors listed under each standard, may result in referral to the Office of Judicial Affairs or to another University office responsible for examining and upholding standards of conduct, in accordance with the due process guarantees and procedures defined in this Code and in Board of Trustees’ Policy Bulletin 57. The maximum sanction applicable to each proscribed behavior is noted in parentheses following the description of the behavior: P = Probation; PS = Probationary Suspension; SP = Suspension; EX = Expulsion.


 Violations of this standard include but are not limited to:

 3.A. Harassment: Committing, conspiring to commit, or causing to be committed any act directed toward a specific person or persons with the intent and/or effect of causing physical or mental harm, injury, fear, stigma, disgrace, degradation, or embarrassment. This includes but is not limited to racial, sexual, or peer harassment. (EX)

 3.A.1. Racial Harassment, as defined in the Student Handbook, includes acts exhibiting prejudice and/or racism and/or failure to follow University Policies concerning Acts of Intolerance.

 3.A.2. Sexual Harassment includes failure to follow University Policies concerning Acts of Intolerance and/or violation of University polices concerning sexual harassment as defined in Section 3 of the Marshall University Sexual Harassment Policy in the Student Handbook.

 3.B. Incivility or disrespect of persons. (PS)

 3.C. Lewd, indecent, or obscene conduct or expression. (SP)

 3.D. Unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, political affiliation, handicap, age, or sexual orientation. (EX)

 3.E. Commitment of any violation in this code for the purposes of harassing and/or discriminating on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, political affiliation, handicap, age, or sexual orientation. (EX)

 3.F. Complicity with others in violation of this standard. (EX)


Marshall does not currently include Gender Identity in any of it’s Non-discrimination policys.


 Things You Should Know as an Ally

 Four Basic Levels of Becoming an Ally

 1. Awareness: Explore how you are different from and similar to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Gain this awareness through talking with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, attending workshops, and self-examination.

2. Knowledge/Education: Begin to understand policies, laws, and practices and how they affect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Educate yourself on the many communities and cultures of LGBT people.

3. Skills: This is an area, which is difficult for many people. You must learn to communicate your awareness and knowledge to others. You can acquire these skills by attending workshops, role playing with friends or peers, and developing support connections.

4. Action: This is the most important and frightening step. Despite the fears, action is the only way to affect the society as a whole.

 Five Concepts to Keep in Mind

 1. Have a good understanding of sexual orientation – and be comfortable with your own.

2. Be aware of the coming out process and realize it is not a one-time event. The coming out process is unique to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and brings challenges that are not often understood.

3. Understand that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people receive the same messages about homosexuality and bisexuality as everyone else. Thus, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people suffer from internalized homophobia and heterosexism. It is important to recognize the risks of coming out and to challenge the internal oppression.

4. Remember that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are a diverse group. Each community within the larger gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has unique needs and goals.

5. Know at least basic information about AIDS/HIV in order to address myths andmisinformation and to be supportive of those effected by this disease, whether in themselves or in partners and friends. While AIDS/HIV is a health issue for all, thosewho in the most fear and have lost the most members of their community are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.

 Source: Ball State University


Homophobic Levels of Attitude


Homosexuality is seen as a “crime against nature.” Homosexuals are sick, crazy, immoral, sinful, wicked, etc., and anything is justified to change them (e.g. prison, hospitalization, behavior therapy including shock treatments).


Heterosexual chauvinism. Heterosexuality is more mature and certainly to be preferred. Any possibility of becoming straight should be reinforced and those who seem to be born “that way” should be pitied “the poor dears.”


Homosexuality is just a phase of adolescent development that many people go through and most people “grow out of.” Thus, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders are less mature than straight and should be treated with the protectiveness and indulgence one used with a child. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders should not be given positions of authority because they are still working through adolescent behaviors.


Still implies that this is something to accept, characterized by such statements as, “You’re not a gay to me, you’re a person.” Denies social and legal realities. Ignores the pain of invisibility and the stress of closet behavior.

 Positive Levels of Attitude


Work to safeguard the rights of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Such people may be uncomfortable themselves, but they are aware of the social climate and the irrational unfairness.



Acknowledges that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in our society takes strength. Such people are willing to truly look at themselves and work on their own homophobic attitudes.



Value the diversity of people and see gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders as a valid part of that diversity. These people are willing to combat homophobia in themselves and in others.


Assume that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders are indispensable in our society. They view all homosexuals with genuine affection and delight and are willing to be open advocates.

Source: Obear, Kathy. (1985). Opening Doors to Understanding and Acceptance: A Facilitator’sGuide to Presenting Workshops on Lesbian and Gay Issues.

Eastern Michigan University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Resource Center 734.487.4149




The development of a positive queer identity and the lifelong process of coming out can be a long and difficult struggle for many of us in the LGBT community, as we must confront many homophobic attitudes and discriminatory practices.

What Might We Be Afraid Of?



Being thrown out of the family/home

Being forced to undergo psychotherapy

Physical violence

Why Might We Want To Come Out?

Live honestly; end the hiding game

Feel closer to family and friends

Be able to feel “whole” around others

Stop wasting energy and time by constantly hiding

Feel a sense of integrity

Make a statement that “I am OK”

How Might We Feel About Coming Out?

Scared and vulnerable




How Might Someone Feel After Someone Comes Out To Them?


Shocked or disbelieving

Not sure what to say or do




Flattered or honored

What Do We Want From The People We Come Out To?



Understanding, acknowledgement of our feelings


Closer relationships

That them knowing won’t negatively affect our friendship


Common Struggles That Questioning Students Face:

Feeling alone

Feeling confused

Feeling afraid

Questioning their values, life perspectives

Looking for support from family and friends

Common questions that come up:

Are my feelings for the same or opposite sex clear?

What would it mean for me to identify with a label? Do I need to identify with a label?

Do I need to come out?

Will I be accepted by my family and friends if I do decide to come out?

Will I turn into a different person if I do come out?

How do I know if I’m gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or queer?

How do I know who is safe to come out to?

If I have a crush on someone of the same sex, but am mostly attracted to

people of the opposite sex; what does that mean?

Ways to support questioning students:

Communicate clearly that they are not alone; many people question their


Every person will come to their own conclusions about their sexuality,

regardless if those are “clear” conclusions (i.e. fluid sexuality)

Deciding whether or not to come out is always a personal decision; the

student will be supported regardless of their being out

They don’t have to everything figured out at this moment!

There is a lot of support for them on-campus, especially PS’s

If they do decide to come out, not everyone may be accepting; BUT there are resources and people who will be explicitly supportive of them coming out

Let them know about campus resources, support groups, student organizations

While sexuality is an important part of one’s identity, it’s only one aspect of

who they are; questioning one’s sexuality may not change all of who they are.


Obstacles to Overcome in Developing a Positive LGBT Identity


Silence: Few openly out role models; little sense of LGBT history/culture; invisibility of LGBT contributions to society.  

Lies: distorted images and stereotypes/myths by news media, church, TV/films; lack of accurate/responsible research; etc.

Isolation: Without the freedom to gather or be open, LGBT individuals cannot easily share ideas and strategize ways to combat heterosexism and homophobic oppression.

Intimidation: As LGBT individuals and communities become more visible society becomes more overt: ridicule; jokes; legal threats of attack, prison, blackmail, custody battles, job loss, eviction, anti-LGBT political legislation, etc.

Physical violence, assaults: rape, murder, electroshock therapy.

Denial of basic civil rights, such as: employment; housing; child custody; freedom of association/assembly; freedom of speech; visitation; inheritance; etc.


Problem Solving

     Most students who seek out Safe Space members are trying to find a ally that they can talk too. In most cases, when a student approaches a safe space member about a problem or issue it is usually minor and does not necessarily warrant a counseling or psych clinic referral. They may simply want to make you aware of something such as an offensive comment by a fellow student or they might simply want to talk through their feelings on a academic matter.

    However you may find yourself in a situation where you are completely in the dark or don’t feel that you can adequately help. THAT’S OK! The following information will deal with how to deal with situation specific problems, where to direct a student to find an answer, and how to make a counseling referral.

   If you are faced with a situation where you are unsure what do to please contact the LGBT Outreach for assistance.

A student comes to you and expressed the need for more information regarding coming out, sexuality and religion, or asks a question for which you do not have an answer.

  1. If you have information immediately available such as a coming out guide or question/issue related material provide them with a copy.
  2. If you do not feel you can adequately answer the question, ask if they are comfortable going into the LGBT Outreach.

·         If they are comfortable going to the LGBT Outreach instruct them to contact the office to obtain some resources on the topic

·         If they are uncomfortable be straight forward with them and say something like, “You know, I am not really familiar with this problem. I will contact the LGBT Outreach for you and have them bring me over some information. Lets set up a time to meet later and I will share the information they have provided with you.” Emphasis that it is not a problem to get the information. Once you have set up a meeting, contact the LGBT Outreach (304) 696-6623 or fill out a request via the LGBTO website

  1. The LGBTO will provide you with the resources needed to answer or at least direct them toward and answer to their inquiry


A student addressed a need for psychological help such as depression, trouble coming out, or any other psychological issue.

1.      Try to get a better understanding of the issue and to establish a level of rapport.

2.      Let the student understand that you would really like to help but that this issues is beyond your current understanding and that you would like to get them the best help.

3.      Introduce the idea of the counseling center or the psych clinic and assure them that both are very confidential and that they are located in academic buildings and that no one will know that they are there for counseling or psychotherapy. Make sure they understand that counseling center or the psych clinic will not contact their parents or families.

4.      Ask them if they would like you to call and make and appointment for them.

·         If they say Yes, call (304) 696-3111 and let them know that you are a professor who is setting up and appointment for a student. Request Linda Stockwell and be sure to write down the appointment date and time or offer to walk over to the counseling center with them.

·         If they say No, try to assure them that the counselors are very capable or dealing with their specific problem or issue. Provide them with the Counseling centers contact information and let them know that you are there to help them.


6.      If possible try and follow up with them so that they understand that you care.


Student is being harassed by another student.

1.      Instruct them to address the person and let them know that they do not appreciate being harassed or that what they are doing is offensive. Ask them to keep a record of offenses and to hold only defaced property, inappropriate notes, etc.

2.      If the student continues to be harassed. Recommend that they pursue judicial actions.

3.      Provide them with copy of the “General Complaint” for found in the forms section of this resource guide. It is also available on the Judicial Affairs website.

4.      Make sure that they understand that they have 21 days to file their complaint.

5.      If they have questions regarding the Judicial Affairs process they should contact Prudy Barker in the judicial affairs office located on the second floor of the student center.


Dormitory Problem (roommate/floor/etc)

1.      If a student is having a problem in a dormitory we recommend that you inquire about what the problem is.

·         If the problem regards a roommate you should suggest that they talk with their RA as they will be able to help the decide how best to deal with this issue.

·         If the problem regards a incident where property has been destroyed or defaced we suggest you recommend the student contact the RA on their floor and depending on the nature of the incident possibly MUPD or Judicial Affairs.

·         If the problem regards the student’s personal safety in the dorms recommend that they contact their RA as soon as possible as well as their RD or go directly to the Department of Residence Services in Holderby hall. Again depending on the nature of the incident possibly MUPD and/or Judicial Affairs.

2.      If the student returns to you about the incident and feels that the situation has not changed suggest that they proceed through the proper channels till action is taken. Persistence is key when dealing with the Department of Residence Services.


Resident Advisor -> Residence Hall Director -> Campus Life Director -> Assistant Director of Residence Services -> Director of Residence Services


Crimes of Hate

If a student approaches you and informs you that they have been the victim of a violent crime because of their sexual orientation advise them to contact MUPD immediately, then Judicial Affairs, and the counseling center.


 Homophobia, Heterosexism, and Sexual Prejudice

     People with homosexual or bisexual orientations have long been stigmatized. With the rise of the gay political movement in the late 1960s, however, homosexuality's condemnation as immoral, criminal, and sick came under increasing scrutiny. When the American Psychiatric Association dropped homosexuality as a psychiatric diagnosis in 1973, the question of why some heterosexuals harbor strongly negative attitudes toward homosexuals began to receive serious scientific consideration.

      Society's rethinking of sexual orientation was crystallized in the term homophobia, which heterosexual

psychologist George Weinberg coined in the late 1960s. Weinberg used homophobia to label heterosexuals' dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals as well as homosexuals' self-loathing. The word first appeared in print in 1969 and was subsequently discussed at length in Weinberg's 1972 book, Society and the Healthy Homosexual. The American Heritage Dictionary (1992 edition) defines homophobia as "aversion to gay or homosexual people or their lifestyle or culture" and "behavior or an act based on this aversion." Other definitions identify homophobia as an irrational fear of homosexuality.

     Around the same time, heterosexism began to be used as a term analogous to sexism and racism, describing an ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any non-heterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community (Herek, 1990). Using the term heterosexism highlights the parallels between antigay sentiment and other forms of prejudice, such as racism, anti-semitism, and sexism. Like institutional racism and sexism, heterosexism pervades societal customs and institutions. It operates through a dual process of invisibility and attack. Homosexuality usually remains culturally invisible; when people who engage in homosexual behavior or who are identified as homosexual become visible, they are subject to attack by society.

Examples of heterosexism in the United States include:

            • the continuing ban against lesbian and gay military personnel;

            • widespread lack of legal protection from antigay discrimination in employment, housing, and services;

            • hostility to lesbian and gay committed relationships, recently dramatized by passage of federal and state laws against same-gender marriage;

            • and the existence of sodomy laws in more than one-third of the states.


     Although usage of the two words has not been uniform, homophobia has typically been employed to describe individual antigay attitudes and behaviors whereas heterosexism has referred to societal-level ideologies and patterns of institutionalized oppression of non-heterosexual people.

      By drawing popular and scientific attention to antigay hostility, the creation of these terms marked a watershed. Nevertheless, they have important limitations.

Critics have observed that homophobia is problematic for at least two reasons.

     First, empirical research does not indicate that heterosexuals' antigay attitudes can reasonably be considered a phobia in the clinical sense. Indeed, the limited data available suggest that many heterosexuals who express hostility toward gay men and lesbians do not manifest the physiological reactions to homosexuality that are associated with other phobias (see Shields & Harriman, 1984).

     Second, using homophobia implies that antigay prejudice is an individual, clinical entity rather than a social phenomenon rooted in cultural ideologies and inter-group relations. Moreover, a phobia is usually experienced as dysfunctional and unpleasant. Antigay prejudice, however, is often highly functional for the heterosexuals who manifest it.

     As antigay attitudes have become increasingly central to conservative political and religious ideologies since the 1980s, these limitations have become more problematic. However, heterosexism, with its historic macro-level focus on cultural ideologies rather than individual attitudes, is not a satisfactory replacement for homophobia.

     Scientific analysis of the psychology of antigay attitudes will be facilitated by a new term. Sexual prejudice serves this purpose nicely. Broadly conceived, sexual prejudice refers to all negative attitudes based on sexual orientation, whether the target is homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Given the current social organization of sexuality, however, such prejudice is almost always directed at people who engage in homosexual behavior or label themselves gay, lesbian, or bisexual (Herek, 2000).

Like other types of prejudice, sexual prejudice has three principal features:

            o It is an attitude (i.e., an evaluation or judgment).

            o It is directed at a social group and its members.

            o It is negative, involving hostility or dislike.


     Conceptualizing heterosexuals' negative attitudes toward homosexuality and bisexuality as sexual prejudice – rather than homophobia – has several advantages.

            o Sexual prejudice is a descriptive term. Unlike homophobia, it conveys no a priori assumptions about the origins, dynamics, and underlying motivations of antigay attitudes.

            o The term explicitly links the study of antigay hostility with the rich tradition of social psychological research on prejudice.

            o Using the construct of sexual prejudice does not require value judgments that antigay attitudes are inherently irrational or evil.


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Common Questions and Responses


Q: What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation is one of the four components of sexuality and is distinguished by an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to individuals of a particular gender. The three other components of sexuality are biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female) and social sex role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior). Three sexual orientations are commonly recognized: "homosexual", attraction to individuals of one's own gender; "heterosexual", attraction to individuals of the other gender; or "bisexual", attractions to members of either gender. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as "gay" (both men and women) or "lesbian" (women only).

Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.

Homosexual orientation is not limited to a particular type of person. Gay men and lesbians are of all ages, cultural backgrounds, races, religions and nationalities. They work in all occupations and live in all parts of the country.


Q: What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?

How a particular sexual orientation develops in any individual is not well understood by scientists. Various theories have proposed differing sources for sexual orientation, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors and life experiences during early childhood. However, many scientists share the view that sexual orientation is shaped for most people at an early age through complex interactions of biological, psychological and social factors.


Q: Is sexual orientation a choice?

No. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. And some people report trying very hard over many years to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual with no success. For these reasons, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.


Q: Is homosexuality a mental illness or emotional problem?

No. Psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals agree that homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder or emotional problem. Much objective scientific research over the past 35 years shows us that homosexual orientation, in and of itself, is not associated with emotional or social problems.

Homosexuality was thought to be a mental illness in the past because mental health professionals and society had biased information about homosexuality since most studies only involved lesbians and gay men in therapy. When researchers examined data about gay people who were not in therapy, the idea that homosexuality was a mental illness was found to be untrue.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association confirmed the importance of the new research by removing the term "homosexuality" from the official manual that lists all mental and emotional disorders. In 1975 the American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting this action. Both associations urge all mental health professionals to help dispel the stigma of mental illness that some people still associate with homosexual orientation. Since the original declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, this decision has subsequently been reaffirmed by additional research findings and both associations.

Q: Can gay, lesbian, and bisexual people be good parents?

Yes. Studies comparing groups of children raised by homosexual and by heterosexual parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of children in their intelligence, psycho-logical adjustment, social adjustment, popularity with friends, development of social sex role identity or development of sexual orientation.

Another stereotype about homosexuality is the mistaken belief that gay men have more of a tendency than heterosexual men to sexually molest children. There is no evidence indicating that homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to molest children.

Q: Why do some gay, lesbian, and bisexual people tell others about their sexual orientation?

Because sharing that aspect of themselves with others is important to their mental health. In fact, the process of identity development for lesbians and gay men, usually called "coming out", has been found to be strongly related to psychological adjustment -- the more positive the gay male or lesbian identity, the better one's mental health and the higher one's self esteem.

Q: Why is the "coming out" process difficult for some gay, lesbian, and bisexual people?

Because of false stereotypes and unwarranted prejudice towards them, the process of "coming out" for lesbians and gay men can be a very challenging process, which may cause emotional pain. Lesbian and gay people often feel "different" and "alone" when they first become aware of same-sex attractions. They may also fear being rejected by family, friends, co-workers and religious institutions if they do "come out".

In addition, homosexuals are frequently the targets of discrimination and violence. This threat of violence and discrimination is an obstacle to lesbian and gay people's development. In a 1989 national survey, 5% of the gay men and 10% of the lesbians reported physical abuse or assault related to being lesbian or gay in the last year; 47% reported some form of discrimination over their lifetime. Other research has shown similarly high rates of discrimination and violence.

Q: What can be done to help gay, lesbian, and bisexual people overcome prejudice and discrimination against them?

The people who have the most positive attitudes toward gay men and lesbians are those who say they know one or more gay person well. For this reason, psychologists believe negative attitudes toward gays as a group are prejudices that are not grounded in actual experience with lesbians or gay men but on stereotypes and prejudice.

Furthermore, protection against violence and discrimination are very important, just as they are for other minority groups. Some states include violence against an individual on the basis of her or his sexual orientation as a "hate crime" and eight US states have laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Q: Can therapy change sexual orientation?

No. Even though homosexual orientation is not a mental illness and there is no scientific reason to attempt conversion of lesbians or gays to heterosexual orientation, some individuals may seek to change their own sexual orientation or that of another individual (for example, parents seeking therapy for their child). Some therapists who undertake this kind of therapy report that they have changed their clients' sexual orientation (from homosexual to heterosexual) in treatment. Close scrutiny of their reports indicates several factors that cast doubt: many of the claims come from organizations with an ideological perspective on sexual orientation, rather than from mental health researchers; the treatments and their outcomes are poorly documented; and the length of time that clients are followed up after the treatment is too short.In 1990 the American Psychological Association stated that scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good. Changing one's sexual orientation is not simply a matter of changing one's sexual behavior. It would require altering one's emotional, romantic and sexual feelings and restructuring one's self-concept and social identity. Although some mental health providers do attempt sexual orientation conversion, others question the ethics of trying to alter through therapy a trait that is not a disorder and that is extremely important to an individual's identity.

Not all gays and lesbians who seek therapy want to change their sexual orientation. Gays and lesbians may seek counseling for any of the same reasons as anyone else. In addition, they may seek psychological help to "come out" or to deal with prejudice, discrimination and violence.

Q: Why is it important for society to be better educated about homosexuality?


Educating all people about sexual orientation and homosexuality is likely to diminish anti-gay prejudice. Accurate information about homosexuality is especially important to young people struggling with their own sexual identity. Fears that access to such information will affect one's sexual orientation and are not valid.


From PFLAG: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays



Affectional Orientation: The desire for intimate emotional and sexual relationships with people of the same gender (lesbian, gay), the other gender (Heterosexual), or either gender (Bisexual). The term is preferred by some over “sexual orientation” because it indicates that the feelings and emotions involved are not solely (or even primarily for some people) sexual. The term stresses the affective emotional component of attraction and relationships, including heterosexual as well as LGBT orientation.

Androgyny: Displaying the characteristics of both or neither male or female.


Ally: Heterosexual people who confront heterosexism, homophobia, and heterosexual privilege in themselves and others out of self-interest, a concern for the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and a belief that heterosexism is a social justice issue.


Biological Sex: The physiological and anatomical characteristics of maleness or femaleness with which a person is born.


Biphobia: The fear, hatred, or intolerance of bisexual women or men.


Bisexual: Term used to describe a man or woman who feels sexual desire and/or emotional attraction for individuals of either sex.


Butch: A lesbian who prefers who prefers traditionally masculine style, expression or identity.


Camp: In LGBT circles, people (especially gay men) may be described as “camp” or “campy” if they behave in a manner that exaggerates gay mannerisms or stereotypes. Such exaggeration is often powerful in its ability to reveal the absurdity of gender expectations.


Closeted/In the Closet: The confining state of being secretive about one’s sexual identity.


Come Out: To acknowledge one’s true sexual identity, either to one’s self or others.


Cross-dresser: A person who enjoys dressing in clothes typically associated with the other gender. Cross-dressers are often called “transvestites”. Most cross-dressers are heterosexual married men.


Cross Living: Living full time in the preferred gender image, (other) than one's assigned sex at birth, (sometimes) in preparation for a sex-change operation (sometimes not).


Drag: Wearing the clothing of another gender, often exaggerating stereotypical characteristics of another gender.


Drag Queen: Typically a gay man who dresses in clothes, most often flamboyant and glamorous styles, associated with female movie stars or singers, all with theatrical intent and sometimes with the intention of poking fun at gender roles.


Dyke: Once known as a derogatory term for lesbian, the word “dyke” was reclaimed by lesbians in the seventies as slang, and many lesbians now refer to themselves as “dykes”.


Faggot: A derogatory term for gay man. Historically, gay men were tied together and thrown onto the kindling when witches were burned at the stake. Hence, a faggot is also a “bundle of sticks”.


Femme: A lesbian who prefers traditionally feminine style, expression or identity. Preferred over “lipstick lesbian”.


Fluid: This is becoming a increasingly used by some people to describe a variety of affectional orientations.


Former Transsexual: Some say that (1) once a transsexual has completed surgery, they are no longer transsexuals. (Contrast this with definition 2 of transsexual see below.) A compromise view might be that a former transsexual is (2) one who has completed surgery, and no longer wants anything to do with the transsexual community.


FTM (Female To Male): One of the gender vectors. Male-identified people who were characterized as female at birth. Opposite of MTF.


Gay: Term used to describe a man who feels sexual desire and/or emotional attraction and affection exclusively or predominately for other men. The term may also be used to encompass lesbians as well.


Gender: Characteristics of masculinity or femininity that are learned or chosen, and are based on societal “norms” or stereotypes (psychosocial construct). A person’s assigned sex does not always match their gender, and most people display traits of more than one gender. Gender is different from sexuality.


Gender Bender: Anyone crossing the gender line who does not care about appearing "convincing." Example: a man wearing a dress, who looks like a man wearing a dress, and doesn't care if he does look like a man wearing a dress. Drag queens are the major group within this category.


Gender Dysphoria: A psychological condition commonly associated with transgender and transsexual individuals manifested by symptoms such as extreme unhappiness, anger and frustration with their bodies assigned at birth.


Gender Expression: The ways in which a person communicates their gender identity to others.


Gender Identity: One's psychological counterpart of one's biological sex. Most people develop a gender identity aligning with their biological sex. For some, however, their gender identity is different from their biological sex.


Gender Recognition: Recognizes only two genders and regulates behavior. The idea is that all males should be male-identified and masculine, and that all females should be female-identified and feminine.


Gender Roles: The socially constructed and culturally specific behavior and appearance expectations imposed on women (femininity) and men (masculinity).


Gender Transition: The transition of a transsexual man or woman to live full time in the gender that corresponds with their gender identity.


Gender Variant: Those who cannot or choose not to conform to societal gender norms associated with their physical sex.


Gender Vector: The way transgender people are often characterized, such as Male-to-Female or Female-to-Male.


Heterosexism: The societal/cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that assume that heterosexuality is the only natural, normal, acceptable sexual orientation. Also the presumption that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality or the prejudice, bias or discrimination based on those assumptions.


Heterosexual: Term used to describe a man or woman who feels sexual desire and/or emotional attraction for individuals of the opposite sex.


Heterosexual Privilege: The benefits and advantages heterosexuals receive in a heterosexist culture. Also, the benefits lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people receive as a result of claiming heterosexual identity or denying homosexual or bisexual identity.


Homophobia: The fear, hatred, or intolerance of lesbians and gay men, or of any behavior that is outside the boundaries of traditional gender roles. Homophobia can be manifested as fear of association with lesbian or gay people or being perceived as lesbian or gay. Homophobic behavior can range from telling jokes about lesbian and gay people to physical violence against people thought to be lesbian or gay.


Homosexual: Term used to describe a woman or a man who feels sexual desire and/or emotional attraction exclusively or predominately for others of their same gender.


Inclusive Language: Language that does not assume universal heterosexuality.


Intersex (or Intersexual): Persons born with the full or partial sex organs of [male and female], or with underdeveloped or ambiguous sex organs. About 4% of all births are intersex to some degree. (This word replaces the politically incorrect hermaphrodite.)


Lesbian: Term used to describe a woman who feels sexual desire and/or emotional attraction exclusively or predominately for other women.


MTF (Male To Female): One of the gender vectors. Female-identified people who were characterized as male at birth. Opposite of FTM.


Metrosexual: A recent term referring to a heterosexual male who assumes characteristics traditionally associated with gay male stereotypes.


Non-surgical Transsexual: Transsexuals who seek sex reassignment through hormones and who cross-live, but stop just short of surgery. Some (I) have concerns about major surgery, which is not always successful. Others (2) have been unable to obtain the money necessary and have essentially given up on this final step (are "in limbo"). Yet others (3) feel they are complete without surgery and are the same as definition 1 of transgender (see below). Others still (4) cannot have surgery due to special health problems.


Outing: Publicly revealing the sexual orientation of an individual who has chosen to keep that orientation as secret or who misrepresents their sexual orientation.


Passing: With regards to sex, gender, and sexuality, passing means being read as a sex, gender or sexuality other than the one you were assigned or with which you identify.


Pride: A healthy self-respect, which in the context of the LGBT community, promotes empowerment, education, safe-living, and that “being LGBT is okay”.


Queer: Originally a derogatory label used to refer to lesbian and gay people or to intimidate and offend homosexuals. More recently this term has been reclaimed by some lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, and transgender people as an inclusive and positive way to identify all people targeted by heterosexism and homophobia. Some lesbians and gay men have similarly reclaimed previously negative words such as "dyke" and "faggot" for positive self-reference.


Self-Identify: A term used to indicate that labels or categories imposed on individuals do not always match the identities of those individuals.


Sex: The biological traits of being either male or female. The meaning our society imposes on sex is called gender.


Sexism: The societal/cultural, institutional and individual beliefs and practices that privilege men, subordinate women, and denigrate women-identified values.


Sexuality: Who you like and what you do. Sexuality is distinct from gender identity and sex. It refers to the labels we assign to sexual desires and practices.


Sexual Identity: How you identify your sexual feelings and desires, not necessarily your practices.


Sexual Orientation: The desire for intimate emotional and sexual relationships with people of the same gender (lesbian, gay), the other gender (Heterosexual), or either gender (Bisexual). Also called “affectional orientation”.


Sexual Prejudice: A negative attitude, judgment or evaluation of directed at a social group because of their sexual orientation. Involves hostility or dislike.


Stonewall: A tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village that was the site of several nights of violent protests following a police raid committed on June 28, 1969 for no other reason than that it was a gay bar. The protests were lead by drag queens, and are seen as the spark of the modern LGBT rights movement.


Straight: Another term for heterosexual.


Transgender Person: A person whose self-identification challenges traditional notions of gender and sexuality. Transgender people include transsexuals and others who do not conform to traditional understandings of labels like male and female


Transphobia/Transphobic: The fear and hatred of cross-dressers, transsexuals, and gender benders and what they do [or are feared to do], and everything that results from this, from disrespect, to denial of rights and needs, to violence. Though some have defined this as an irrational fear and hatred, in actuality, from the time most of us are young, people and institutions (parents/guardians, peers, teachers, clergy, the media, etc.) have taught us to conform to societal notions of "proper gender behavior", and to hold contempt for those who challenge or transgress these standards. Transphobia is indeed a form of oppression.


Transsexual: A person whose biological sex does not match their gender identity and who, through gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatments, seeks to change their physical body to match their gender identity. Transsexuals' sexual orientation can be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.


Two-Spirit: Native American concept present in some indigenous cultures of North, Central and South America, that is a term of reverence, traditionally referring to people who display both masculine and feminine sex or gender characteristics. Named “berdache” by European colonists, those who are two-spirited are and were traditionally respected and may be healers or leaders thought to possess a high spiritual development.


Resources for LGBT students


University Resources

Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Outreach

The LGBT Outreach provides students with resource materials, information, programming, and is normally able to put students in contact with the two student organizations on campus. They can also provide referrals to the counseling center and the psych clinic. The office also serves as a LGBT student union of sorts in that the office is open for students to study, talk, or just hang out.


Location: The Lower Level of the Student center near the ID office.

Phone: (304) 696-6623

Contact Person: Douglas Evans or Rebecca Wass




Marshall University Counseling Center

The Counseling Center is made up of licensed psychologists, counselors, and other mental health professionals trained to meet all student counseling needs. In the event of an emergency, a Counseling Services staff member is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.


Location: The First Floor of Prichard Hall

Phone: (304) 696-3111

Contact Person: Linda Stockwell




Marshall University Psychology Clinic

A variety of services are offered by the Clinic.  These include individual psychotherapy, psychological assessment, group psychotherapy, as well as educational workshops and other events. Students receive free therapy although the Clinic is not a for-profit venture, some nominal fees are charged for services. Appointments may be made by calling (304)696-3756 or by going to an Administrative Assistant in the Psychology Dept. Room 335-A, Harris Hall, during hours of operation.  If you are not able to contact someone directly, you can leave a confidential voice mail message and someone will return your call as soon as possible. 


Location: Office to make Appointments- Third Floor of Harris Hall

               Clinic- Fourth floor of Harris Hall

Phone: (304) 696-3756

Contact Person: Clinic Director- Keith Beard

                           Appointments- Okey Napier



Student Organizations


Marshall University Gay, Straight, Bisexual Alliance

The GSBA is a anonymous discussion group where student meet each week in a academic building not normally used for student organization meetings and the discuss different issues surrounding LGBT life. Because of the anonymity we often suggest student try to attend GSBA before venturing into the campus activist group the Lambda Society.


Location: Currently meeting Mondays at 9:15 PM on the fourth floor of Smith Hall

President: Jake Wendelken

E-mail: or

Advisor: Kathy Seelinger  Phone: (304) 696-2863


The Lambda Society

The Lambda Society is Marshall’s historic campus activist group they sponsor campus Pride each spring and do a number of activities aimed at providing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender students a chance to socialize and bring about campus social change. This group is more for the students who are already out and looking to connect with the camps LGBT Community.


Location: Lambda Currently meets Thursdays at 9:30 in the Memorial Student Center room 2E10 in the Don Morris Room.

President: Lena Tudor


Advisor: Jeremy Barris    Phone: (304) 696-2704


Quick Reference Call Sheet


Contact Person



LGBTO Outreach

Raymond M. Blevins

(304) 696-6623  

Multicultural Affairs Dr. Shari Clarke 304.696.4677

Counseling Center

Linda Stockwell

(304) 696-3111


Counselor on Call/ Dispatch

(304) 696-HELP


Psychology Clinic

Okey Napier

(304) 696-3756

Judicial Affairs

Lisa Martin

(304) 696-2495

  Department of Residence Services


(304) 696-6765

  Gay, Straight, Bisexual Alliance

Whitney Myers 

Lambda Society

Jeannie Harrison

(304) 553-9661


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Last updated: 01/11/12.