By Sasha Charlemagne
As we welcome the class of 2023 into their first semester as Howard University students, the difficult transition into college life becomes apparent and we are all taken back to memories of our first Howard runaround. For many, being far away from home or living independently for the first time can be one of the most difficult adjustments as we begin the new school year.
As upperclassmen share our insights on navigating life on campus, the importance of how we discuss campus inclusivity comes to mind. What does it mean for Howard University, a historically Black university built to serve those who were previously underserved, to become a truly inclusive space, safe for the expression of all identities?
As student-led organizations like CASCADE work to serve students of all sexualities and gender identities, many of our fellow classmates may still feel lost when it comes to seeking out resources on and off campus that specifically address issues LGBTQ+ college students may face.
Hopefully these resources, along with a supportive hand from members of the student body who benefit from privilege based on their identities, can help ease the struggle of adjusting to college life. Many students have cited their time at Howard and other HBCUs as uniquely helpful in understanding and embracing our identities as Black people in America. This same experience should ring true for Black LGBTQ+ students, as these intersecting identities have always had an intrinsic place within our HBCU communities and deserve to be acknowledged as such.
CASCADE is the bisexual, lesbian, allied and gay organization of students at Howard University and its mission is to celebrate, educate and advocate for the diversity and equality of the LGBTQA community.
LGBTQ+ Advocacy Departments/Student Leaders within many of the student councils of individual schools on campus, as well as within the Howard University Student Association, there are individuals dedicated specifically to advocating for the needs of LGBTQ+ students.
The DC Center For the LGBTQ+ Community cites their vision as “educating, empowering, celebrating, and connecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.” The center offers career services, sexual health resources and Black LGBTQ+ peer support groups.
SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region through youth leadership. There are multiple volunteer opportunities to give back to DC LGBTQ+ youth through the organization.
Casa Ruby is a bilingual LGBTQ+ resource center, lead by transgender women of color, that provides social services and programs in the DC area.