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Office of Student Diversity Programs

Residence Hall Life

In a residence hall environment, we interact daily with a wide variety of people. Statistics have shown that at least 10% of the general population consider themselves to be lesbian or gay, and many more consider themselves to be bisexual. It is very likely that you will meet individuals who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or queer (LGBTQ) during your time at Skidmore. This page was developed to hopefully answer some of the questions you may have. If you have additional questions or concerns or need to speak with someone, please email the director of Student Diversity Programs at osdp@skidmore.edu. Remember, you may ask these questions of your Residence Life staff as well.

What is it like being LGBTQ in the residence halls?
Being a minority in a residence hall can be difficult at times. A college campus is a microcosm of society, meaning it is a mini-society. A student can expect to encounter the same issues on a college campus that they might in a residential community. However, the Residential Life Staff is committed to supporting the LGBTQ community at Skidmore. Every member of the Residential Life staff has attended an LGBTQ session as part of staff training. In addition, they are trained to deal with issues of intolerance and have resources and information on how to help you through an act of hate, discrimination, or intolerance. Many staff members have chosen to attend
Ally Training and identify as allies to the LGBTQ community and make the res hall experience a safer and better one.

What is Gender Neutral Housing?
The term “gender-blind/neutral housing” refers to rooms where people of any sex or gender can room together, including people of the “opposite” sex. This housing choice provides options for transgender students, students in the process of discovering their gender identity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning, or queer students, students who feel uncomfortable rooming with members of the same sex, intersex students who do not wish to be identified by any sex, and students who feel that they would cooperate better with a roommate of the opposite sex.

The Office of Residential Life offers gender neutral housing in one of the eight residence halls on campus (Scribner Village and Northwoods Apartments already offer gender neutral housing for upper-class students). Gender neutral rooms are located in Wiecking Hall, third floor, rooms 308 – 319. Returning students are eligible to select singles, while first years who select gender neutral will be housed in double rooms (you may contact res life if you are a first year student who needs to be housed in a single gender neutral room); there are 8 single rooms available and 4 doubles. In addition to rooms, there will be two gender neutral bathrooms available for use. This option is available through the regular Room Selection process on a first come, first serve basis. First year students may also select to live in gender neutral housing by filling out the appropriate portion of the housing questionnaire. If you have any questions about gender neutral housing, please contact the Office of Residential Life at reslife@skidmore.edu or by phone at 518.580.5765 or the Director of Student Diversity Programs at osdp@skidmore.edu or by phone at 518.580.8212.

Gender Neutral Restrooms
There are gender neutral, unisex, or single stall restrooms throughout campus.

Why do LGBTQ people flaunt their sexuality?
"What people do in their own bedrooms is their own business, but I saw two guys walking across campus holding hands." One of the worst forms of oppression for a human being is to be denied emotional expression. Curiously, it is called "expressing love" when heterosexuals hold hands, but "flaunting" when LGBTQ people express their love. How would heterosexuals react if they could not hold hands, kiss, dance together, go to romantic dinners, or be married? LGBTQ people who are open with their affections are not trying to shock others, but are just doing what is natural to them and others.

What should I do if a friend tells me that he or she is gay? What does that say about me?
Most LGBTQ people who "come out" would like the same sincere acceptance and encouragement you might want when you tell a friend something special about yourself. Because of many people's "homophobic" attitude (fear and derision of same sex relationships), many LGBTQ people are afraid of rejection from their friends. You might first honestly ask yourself how you feel about this news and then discuss it as a caring friend.
Some people who find out a close friend is LGBTQ wonder "What does that mean about me?" This is a natural reaction. What it probably means is that your friend trusts you very much. However, liking someone gay does not make you gay any more than liking someone smart makes you smart.

If my roommate "comes out" to me, does that mean that they think that I'm gay too?
There is a big difference between "coming out" and "coming on." As discussed above, most gay people who come out want to be accepted, not hassled. Sometimes a gay person might "come on" to you, tell you they are attracted to you, or want an intimate relationship with you. You can handle it in the same manner that you would handle a heterosexual approach. Same-sex love is as serious and legitimate as heterosexual love. Again, you should discuss it with your friend.

If I accept my LGBTQ roommate, will he or she bring in lots of LGBTQ friends and push me out?
A formerly taboo subject will be out in the open. You may feel uncomfortable from a lack of experience dealing with LGBTQ people who are not "closeted." The LGBTQ friends should respect non-LGBTQ people just as LGBTQ people expect to be respected. Visits by LGBTQ folks are a good opportunity to learn about this large and diverse segment of the population. However, be cautious about presuming that all your roommate's friends are LGBTQ. His or her best friends may be straight.

Won't my friends or parents think I'm gay if I have a gay roommate or friend or defend equal rights?
Defending equal rights for LGBTQ folks is often a courageous stance to take. Some people may conclude that such a person has a vested interest to do so. It is up to you whether you feel that the people you are defending are worth the risk of occasional accusations or assumptions by others. Remember that a word from heterosexual friends and allies in defense or support of gay rights can go a long way to help change people's minds.

Now that I know my roommate is gay, I don't feel comfortable about nudity, dressing, showering, etc.
More than likely, you have been living together long enough to trust each other. There is no reason for the trust to diminish now. Your roommate has been gay or lesbian all along! Bear in mind that LGBTQ folks are not always comfortable with non-LGBTQ people, either. Gay people, just like straight people, are attracted to certain types of folks. Most LGBTQ people are not sexually interested in heterosexuals, just as the reverse is true.

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