HAVEN workshops aid Bearkats

Many derogatory names have been used to negatively address the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) community for many years, but Sam Houston State University is taking steps toward arming the campus with tools to unite the students and staff against these prejudices, regardless of sexual identity.

Program Council Coordinator Chuck Collins and Dr. Drew Miller of the Counseling Center, recently co-founded the program HAVEN on campus, to educate faculty and staff on the world and culture of the GLBT community.

It began in the fall of 2008 when they began seeking committee approval on beginning the process of creating the program. After meeting with a similar group from Texas A&M, Aggie Allies, they have since put together workshops on campus discussing topics ranging from GLBT vocabulary, to culture, to hardships.

So far HAVEN has held two workshops. The first was in February, and the second was this past Thursday, March 19.

They are continuing to hold the workshops every 3rd Thursday monthly.

Though the previous workshops have been in the evenings, the May meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Miller said that “the workshops are essentially for the education and training of our faculty and staff to understand and identify with GLBT students on campus.”

HAVEN covers many issues in their workshops, and some of them include: vocabulary, “coming out” (the process through which a GLBT person recognizes and then discloses his/her sexual orientation to others) and what that entails, the oppression that a GLBT person faces, what a heterosexual person faces as an ally to a GLBT or to the group as a whole, GLBT history and resources.

“I think the most important thing that someone can take out of our workshops is the understanding of privileges and heterosexism,” Miller said.

Heterosexism is a term that applies to attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that everyone is heterosexual, or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the norm and therefore superior. People of any sexual orientation can hold such attitudes.

Heterosexism feeds directly into the privileges, or lack thereof, in the GLBT community. Some of the privilege issues include the right to marry, and even things as simple to heterosexuals as holding hands with a partner in public, or discussing partners in mixed company.

The idea of HAVEN, and addressing heterosexism, is that GLBTs are here on campus, and that there is an importance to looking for it, recognizing it, and not ignoring it. It also stresses the importance of getting familiar with GLBT life and the experiences of this “invisible minority status.”

“This is the time in which the GLBT community is experiencing the most momentum — at least the most productive momentum,” said Miller.

In the 1970s and 1980’s, GLBTs came out at on average in their mid-twenties. Now the age has dropped dramatically to the average age of 15. Programs like HAVEN aim to prepare universities for their growing GLBT communities.

Safe zones have also become more active on campus. These are places in which GLBT students can go talk to faculty and staff members about issues concerning their sexuality, get help with harassment, and learn more about who they are.

Consistent research shows that GLBT’s have no more anxiety or depression than a heterosexual person, but they do experience these feelings under the same conditions a “straight” person would, like when they are not supported, accepted, or valued. Haven, and other similar programs, try to break down the sexuality barriers and create a united front in education.

For more information on the HAVEN program visit the website The site has a schedule for the workshops.

While the site is working on providing a sign-up for the workshops, it is not yet developed. To sign up for the next workshop, or contact HAVEN email org_haven@shsu.edu.

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