Sunday, September 20, 2015

State of Community Colleges LGBTQ Resources & Services

"The Queer and Now Conference was held at De Anza College on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. This annual conference featured student performances and workshops led by speakers from the larger Queer community."

With 113 campuses, the California Community College (CCC) system is the largest in the nation. In a few key areas, CCC is advancing support for LGBTQ students' success, partly influenced by AB 620 (2011). This assembly bill amended the Education Code to encourage (but not require) CCC campuses to collect aggregate data on sexual orientation  and gender identity of students and staff; and to designate a staff point person "to address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender faculty, staff, and students." The only existing system-wide entity for LGBT issues is the LGBT Caucus of the CCC Academic Senate. [Note: An October 2015 email communication stated the Caucus is "defunct and inactive."]

Since May 2014 (before the UC and CSU systems), the online CCC admissions application has asked voluntary sexual orientation and gender identity demographic questions. Currently, no mechanism is in place to access this data to track student success and possibly make the case that CCC Student Success & Support Program funding should be used to help at-risk LGBTQ students. SSSP funds support students experiencing "disproportionate impact," which on most CCC campuses means assisting groups based on disability, financial aid status, former foster youth status, race/ethnicity, and veterans status. AB 860 (2014) requires CCC districts to maintain a student equity plan for the above target groups, but not for LGBTQ students.

Sierra College, however, is setting a precedent by hiring a full-time Director / Program Manager for three student engagement centers: a  Cultural Center, Pride Center, and Gender Equity Center. According to the Campus LGBTQ Centers Directory, Sierra College will join Century College (MN) and Community College of Denver (CO) as the only community colleges in the nation with professionally-staffed LGBTQ centers.

Other CCC campuses are also setting standards for LGBTQ student support:

The Los Medanos College Q*Spot, the Palomar College Pride Center, and the City College of San Francisco Queer Resource Center are CCC spaces for LGBTQ students, although none are professionally staffed. The Fullerton College Cadena Cultural Center includes LGBTQ resources. Although not offering a physical space for LGBTQ students, Sacramento City College offers an excellent one-stop web page for LGBTQ resources.

San Joaquin Delta College in 2011 heard a proposal for a Delta Pride Space at the Facilities Planning Meeting. Campus officials stated that physical space for instructional purposes take priority and that the State does not fund student centers. Campus officials promised to search for a shared space for a Diversity Center, although no such space appears to exist four years later.

Imperial Valley College (LGBT Designee), Irvine Valley College (Campus Liaison for LGBTQIA Issues), and MiraCosta College (Campus Liaison for LGBTQIA Issues) created an LGBT Designee position following the authorization under the California Education Code (Section 66271.2). However, Imperial Valley College does not name the person or contact acting as the Campus Liaison. 

Santa Rosa Junior College established a President’s Advisory Committee on LGBTQ Campus Climate; and De Anza College founded an Equity Action Council that includes a Gender & Sexualities Advisory Group. Other campus committees are also addressing LGBTQ issues: The Glendale Community College Student Affairs Committee minutes from March 18, 2015 includes the establishment of a Task Force to address transgender student services. The Sacramento City College LGBT Subcommittee of the Student Equity Committee is a task force focused on LGBTQ issues on campus.

Sierra College's Spectrum Committee of their Academic Senate is "a formal body whose mission include[s] improving the success and retention of Sierra College’s LGBTIQ students as well as ensuring them a safe campus climate."

Also on the academic side, City College of San Francisco offers an LGBT Studies Major; Napa Valley College's Child and Family Studies offers an LGBT Studies Certificate Program; and Sierra College offers an AA degree in LGBT Studies. Other campuses offer at least one LGBT Studies course: College of Alameda - Humanities 60: Introduction to LGBTQ Studies; Butte College - English 26: Queer Film and Literature; De Anza College - Intercultural Studies 26: Introduction to LGBT Studies; Foothill CollegeEnglish 5: Gay & Lesbian Literature; and Pasadena City College - English 058: Queer Studies in Literature (beginning 2016).

Allies, Safe Space, and Safe Zone projects are found on many CCC campuses, offering training to staff, faculty, and students on LGBTQ issues and resources and raising visibility of campus LGBTQ support. Some campuses mention staff/faculty training on Flex Days, or train-the-trainer opportunities. Others provide a permanent web presence:

Other noteworthy LGBTQ initiatives by CCC campuses include:
  • De Anza College hosted the Queer & Now Student Conference in June 2015. The events were sponsored by the Office of Equity, EAC Gender & Sexualities Advisory Committee, the Black Leadership Collective, and African American Studies Department. About 300 people attended the conference.
  • The MiraCosta College Gay Straight Alliance endowed an annual $1,000 GSA Student Scholarship in 2014, by raising more that $25,000. In 2015, the MiraCosta College Inter-Club Council purchased rainbow tassels and stoles for graduating students. The request for funding highlighted NEA statistics on homophobic campus climates and the need to create an inclusive and welcoming campus that values diversity.
  • The Gay & Lesbian Association of District Employees (GLADE) serving Cypress College and Fullerton College (North Orange County Community College District) established a scholarship for students active in the LGBT community
  • The Lake Tahoe Community College Board of Trustees supported a faculty member's professional development leave in which she learned about issues of sexual orientation as they relate to career decision making and development. She reported back at the March 12, 2013 Board of Trustees meeting.
  • The Student Senate for CCC hosted the first conference of the Spectrum Caucus in 2012, according to the May 14, 2012 Weekly Mission STEM newsletter of Los Angeles Mission College. However, the current SSCCC web site makes no mention of the Spectrum Caucus or any other LGBT entity.

Finally, a grant through the California Mental Health Services Authority provides free online training to support at-risk students via Kognito for all CCC campuses. Modules include LGBTQ on Campus for Faculty & Staff; and LGBTQ on Campus for Students. However, a survey of all 113 CCC campuses show that many do not offer any of the Kognito trainings or do not mention the LGBTQ modules (even though other modules such as Veterans on Campus are highlighted). The free LGBTQ modules are available through 2017.

A note on this blog post: Nancy Jean Tubbs, Director of UC Riverside's LGBT Resource Center, took this inventory of LGBT services and resources on CCC campuses by accessing web sites between July 3 and September 18, 2015. No effort was made to contact individuals as a follow-up to accessing web information, so this inventory is limited to what CCC campuses choose to include on the internet. Please contact Nancy Jean Tubbs to correct errors.