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'Coming out' in college

Posted by Catherine Cloutier  August 27, 2013 01:56 PM

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For LGBTQ college students, the process of ‘coming out’ can be a time of anxiety and uncertainty. We talked to Tikesha Morgan, director of multicultural student affairs and GLBTQ student resources at Emerson for some advice. The Princeton Review recently named Emerson College as the most LGBT-friendly school in the country.

1. Talking to your roommate

LGBTQ students do not have to disclose their sexual orientation with their roommate, she said. But if a students wants to, he or she should have a one-on-one conversation with the roommate.

Morgan said students should be prepared for the possibility that their roommate is uneasy with their sexual orientation.

“If your roommate says, ‘I don’t really understand this,’ say ‘let’s talk about it,’” she said. “We are all coming from different walks of life.”

2. Don’t berate someone for not ‘coming out’

Morgan said that a common problem at Emerson is students badmouthing those who they think need to ‘come out.’

“I’m constantly having to reprimand students who are out for criticizing students who are not out,” she said.

Some LGBTQ students at Emerson do not disclose their sexuality until junior or senior year, Morgan said, and that’s okay.

3. Seek counseling

Morgan said that students who are confused about their sexuality or are questioning whether to ‘come out’ should seek counseling. On-campus counselors or residential assistants are both fantastic resources, she said.

“They’re non-biased; they aren’t a friend or a family member,” she said. “Counselors are trained to do this.”

4. Report hate crimes or homophobic incidents

Morgan said that if a LGBTQ student is experiencing harassment or is the victim of a hate crime, he or she needs to report it to campus police.

Sometimes, an incident can be minor and not warrant a report, Morgan said. For example, a friend may be saying something derogatory without realizing it. In this scenario, Morgan suggests talking to student affairs or the LGBTQ office on campus. A faculty member from one of these offices can help sort out the situation.

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