A safe place: Dixie State LGBT resource center opens

ST. GEORGE – It’s not always easy finding a place where you feel safe to be yourself, let alone knowing who out there will support who you are. One goal of the recently created LGBTQ+ Resource Center at Dixie State University is to provide support and a safe space for students, staff and faculty who identify as a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

“It’s good to have this place,” DSU student Zsa’ Jade Ervin of Los Angeles, said. Ervin, who identifies as a part of the LGBT community, is one of three interns at the resource center. It’s a good space to have on campus because LGBT students don’t always know who they can talk to, she said.

“I can come here and talk to someone and it won’t be weird,” Ervin said.

As a way to help provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT students, staff and faculty, Dixie State University established the LGBT+ Resource Center as a part of its Multicultural Inclusion Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 26, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
As a way to help provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT students, staff and faculty, Dixie State University established the LGBT+ Resource Center as a part of its Multicultural Inclusion Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 26, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Some incoming university students may not have had that safe place in high school or their community in general. This can be true of LGBT students from rural backgrounds, said Barrett Beck, an English instructor at Dixie State and the school’s part-time LGBT community specialist.

“So a lot of (the center’s purpose) is just letting them know it’s OK to open and come out of the closet,” Beck said, “and that the university is behind LGBT people as much as it is behind people who are straight and perfectly conventional.”

Beck, who is currently the only paid member of the resource center’s staff, takes the purpose of the resource center personally. She had her own difficulties in high school and wants to help those who may have moved away from similar situations.

She went to a rural high school and was bullied even before she came out. The bullying was so bad she had to drop out for a while.

“That’s why I really, really want to be here, to support students who may have similar backgrounds,” she said.

According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show that LGBT students in middle and high school are 61 percent more likely “to feel unsafe or uncomfortable in school due to sexual orientation.”

That increased stress can lead to heightened risks for depression, substance abuse and sexual behaviors that could result in sexually transmitted diseases, according to the CDC.

As a way to help provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT students, staff and faculty, Dixie State University established the LGBT+ Resource Center as a part of its Multicultural Inclusion Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 26, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
As a way to help provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT students, staff and faculty, Dixie State University established the LGBT+ Resource Center as a part of its Multicultural Inclusion Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 26, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Thus far the public reception of the LBGTQ+ Resource Center has been good, Beck said, adding there has been community support as well.

The area’s own LGBT community raised and donated $2,000 to the center during the St. George gay pride event in June.

“A lot of people here came forth and spread their support,” Beck said. “We’ve gotten a lot of welcome here.”

Fundraiser luncheon

The public will have the opportunity to support the resource center Sept. 10 during a luncheon held in conjugation with the DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival.

The luncheon will feature the directors of “Upstairs Inferno” and “Uncle Gloria,” LGBT-related films being screened at DOCUTAH this year. The event will be catered by Benja’s Thai Garden and is set to take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 in the Zion Room on the fifth floor of Dixie State’s Holland Centennial Commons.

Barrett Beck and her wife Denise Nadal hand out information for the new LGBTQ Inclusion Center during the gay pride celebration held at Vernon Worthen Park, St. George, Utah, June 25, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Barrett Beck and her wife Denise Nadal hand out information for the new LGBTQ Inclusion Center during the gay pride celebration held at Vernon Worthen Park, St. George, Utah, June 25, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“Center funds will be used to fund scholarships and support for LGBT students, train and hire staff members, send students to conferences and bring a richer array of programming to the entire DSU community,” Beck said in a statement detailing the event. “The LGBTQ+ Resource Center affirms Dixie State’s commitment to supporting all its students and follows the national trend of having LGBT resource centers on campuses.”

Tickets are $40 per person and are available at the Eventbrite website.

To reserve an entire table of eight at a $20 discount, contact Dixie State’s Multicultural Inclusion Center at 435-652-7730 or the LGBTQ+ Resource Center at lgbtcenter@dixie.edu.

Documentary films

DOCUTAH, which is set to take place Sept. 6 to 10 on the Dixie State campus, will screen “UpStairs Inferno” at 8:10 p.m. on Sept. 9 in the Electric Theater in downtown St. George and 4:45 p.m. on Sept. 10 in the Delores Doré Eccles Fine Arts Center on campus.

The film exposes the heartbreak caused when a fire was set in the New Orleans gay bar UpStairs Lounge in 1973.

“Uncle Gloria” will screen at 3 p.m. on Sept. 10 in the Eccles Mainstage and follows the macho owner of an auto wrecking company in Florida who goes into hiding from the law as a woman, setting off a journey of self discovery.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Posted in Local, NewsTagged , , , , ,

27 Comments

  • NotSoFast August 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Is there a special place on campus where straight people can go and well, just hang out and tell jokes or something? Or do they have to wait until politically correct criteria changes a bit?

    • .... August 31, 2016 at 2:20 am

      You are politically incorrect. saying straight is no longer an acceptable term. but you may use the term. Persons of non alternative preference. This way no one will be offended and the rainbow people will not feel alienated. I’m sure there will be updates posted on the bulletin board in the University dining facility.

    • pwilson August 31, 2016 at 7:10 am

      there is a special place – it’s called the rest of campus.

      • Henry August 31, 2016 at 10:07 am

        Really pwilson? Where are the paid staff members/mentors for the straight students? When was the straight pride celebration? I didn’t see any publicity for it. Where are the scholarships awarded to straight students for the best essays “describing how their identity affected their experiences growing up”?

        • pwilson August 31, 2016 at 10:39 am

          I’m sorry, Henry, I think you misread my comment. The reply was to NotSoFast that asked “is there a special place where straight people can go…?” My response was yes – straight people are and always have been safe on campuses without fear (in general) of being ridiculed, attacked, judged for their straightness. From my perspective, that makes the campus a safe place, with all the faculty and staff being paid to support and mentor them through their education, again without fear of prejudice, since most of those faculty are straight and know what these straight kids are going through in college. Admittedly, the straight people are being judged more these days for suppressing and ridiculing those that are LGBTQ+, so campus may not be a “safe” place to express their bigotry without someone holding them accountable for it. But that is not the “safe” haven that this center provides; the center is not a place for LGBTQ people to go and ridicule and make offensive jokes about straight people, it’s a place that they can go to and learn about resources available to them as they continue to be on the receiving end of ignorant peoples’ rants against them and struggle through normal everyday events that straight people take for granted. If you don’t understand all this, then that clearly shows that the privilege you have been entitled to all these years has blinded you from the reality that the minorities have to endure.

          • Henry August 31, 2016 at 2:05 pm

            Pwilson – you appear to be framing the LGBT issue as having only 2 sides. Either one supports LGBT-specific accommodation, funding, and positive publicity. Or if you don’t, then one supports “bigotry”, has “privilege (we) have been entitled to all these years”, and are “blinded from the reality”.

            Such provocative and mean-spirited language is contrary to the respect and understanding that we should all want. Just because one doesn’t completely agree with you doesn’t mean that we advocate ostracism or violence against LGBTs.

            There is a 3rd side, a middle way, with which many of us frame the LGBT issue. We of course oppose any hatred or discrimination against LGBTs, and have sympathy for the difficulties which they’ve encountered. However, we also don’t believe that a public school should designate LGBTs as a special interest group entitled to unique advantages, such as LGBT-specific scholarships, funding, and notoriety.

            To say that “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” is an oversimplification of a complex issue.

          • 42214 August 31, 2016 at 7:32 pm

            Can’t wait to read your comment in response to Henry’s thoughtful, articulate response to your diatribe. My money is that you’ll cut and run. Prove me wrong pwilson.

          • Bob August 31, 2016 at 8:07 pm

            They already have equality–they can call their homosexual relations a “marriage” ffs.. What they want is to be designated a permanent victim group and receive special privileges and funding. Everyone should be safe from bullying and harassment from whatever, but the LGBTQ-xyz crowd are not entitled to special privilege above everyone else. It’s like the “black life matters” thing. The blacks don’t make a fuss when other blacks or latinos kill them, but when violent criminal thugs get shot by cops that happen to be lighter skin tones… well, you know

          • Bob August 31, 2016 at 8:12 pm

            Then again maybe this “resource center” is a place to educate the “gay community” about the dangers of AIDS, syphilis and other STD’s. Didn’t think we needed that type of thing around here, but never know…

  • ladybugavenger August 30, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    “It’s not always easy finding a place where you feel safe to be yourself, let alone knowing who out there will support who you are.” I totally go through that everyday and I’m not lgbtq. I must be xyz. Where’s my support group lol

  • .... August 31, 2016 at 2:10 am

    I’m starting a new Support Ladybug Group bring money !

  • Brian August 31, 2016 at 8:26 am

    So the LGBT community gets a safe space, but when my kids need to take a pee at Target they don’t get a safe space? That makes perfect sense. Yay for equality!

    After all, 0.3% of the US population is transgender. It makes total sense to make them comfortable in bathrooms at the expense of the other 99.7%.

    Which is why we don’t shop at Target anymore. I haven’t stepped foot in that place since they announced the policy change.

    • ladybugavenger August 31, 2016 at 11:28 am

      I also refuse to shop at Target.

      • ladybugavenger August 31, 2016 at 11:30 am

        I don’t support gay marriage. Is this a safe place to say that? ?

      • .... August 31, 2016 at 5:02 pm

        I shop at Target all the time. I’m not going to the mall and pay mall prices for stuff that comes off the same assembly line for all those stores.

        • ladybugavenger August 31, 2016 at 7:18 pm

          I’ve never been a Target shopper. I like Walmart but most of all I like having packages delivered to my front door.

    • RealMcCoy August 31, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Just go into the women’s restroom, pee on all the seats, and leave the seats up. They can’t stop you, and eventually they will decide that a guy in the girls room is not a great idea after all.

    • 556poor August 31, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      You hit the nail on the head. Besides the fact these “safe spaces” for all the fragile snowflakes that we seem to have now days will never help students adjust to the real world. People will say things you don’t like you gotta learn to grow a little thicker skin and be an adult. This “safe space” is the last thing we need here at DSU

  • Bob August 31, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    “Dixie State University is to provide support and a safe space for students, staff and faculty who identify as a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community”

    They’re discriminating against other alternative sexuality communities that aren’t included and also need support, comfort, and a safe space. What about the bestiality community and the pedophile community?! They need a safe space on DSU campus also! DISCRIMINATION!

    • .... August 31, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Go take your meds

    • .... August 31, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Well another one of Bob’s meaningless rantings about nothing to do with nothing and he thinks he is so funny. ..yawn

  • 42214 August 31, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Prediction. This year’s homecoming queen for the MIGHY DSU TRAIL BLAZERS will be transgender with no idea which bathroom to use. That’s probably homophobic or a trigger warning or not PC but I don’t …. I’m just sitting here watching this country I served and love go down the proverbial crapper.
    Ed. ellipsis.

    • 42214 August 31, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Why is my comment at 5:27 pm awaiting moderation but my comment at 7:32 pm is posted? What’s the process? Is the 5:27 comment above your pay grade but the 7:32 comment is ok?

      • .... September 1, 2016 at 2:55 pm

        422 it all depends on the position of the satellites at the time of posting your comment and I’m sure global warming has its effect on the outer gravitational pull that effects the order in which your posts are received. .LOL !

    • RealMcCoy September 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Don’t forget that the he/she will also be called a ‘hero’, and ‘brave’ by the media. Maybe even ‘inspiring’.

    • .... September 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Ha ha you got edited !

  • 42214 September 1, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Good job Henry, I figured pwilson would slither away in the night. We probably need safe zones on SG News.

Leave a Reply