Is UW really LGBTQ+ friendly?

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By Harleen Kaur Dhillon

On the case of acceptance in academics

University is the first step to the rest of your life. You will meet more diverse and interesting individuals than ever before. How does this bode for LGBTQ+ folks? Allow me to present a small guide to the LGBTQ+ community of the University of Waterloo (UW).

LGBTQ+ life in UW

Most large universities are quite LGBTQ+ friendly, and for the most part UW is no exception. Broadly speaking, people are either accepting or indifferent to variations in gender and sexuality — they have so many other things to worry about. UW is mostly known for its scientific programs, such as Computer Science and Engineering, so it is a place for students that are immensely dedicated to their academics. Students are far more concerned with their marks than with what pronouns you use for yourself or who you like to love.

For asexual folks, even some LGBTQ+ friendly places can be unaccepting. At UW, this is not an issue. The Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the first point of reference for the LGBTQ+ community at UW, is openly ace-inclusive and open even to those who are not yet out and to allies.

Resources

The Glow Centre, located in SLC 2102 would be similar to a gateway to the LGBTQ+ community at UW. Although, it’s possible to still be involved in the community even if you don’t join the Glow Centre. In addition to Glow, the engineering faculty hosts a branch of EngiQueers Canada, which meets weekly in the POETS room in CPH.

The Glow Centre also offers confidential peer support every weekday from 5 to 6 p.m. For those needing greater mental health support, they should visit Counselling Services or Mental Health Services.

Events

The Glow Centre hosts a multitude of events throughout the semester, the most widely known of which is Drag Me to the Bomber. Drag Me to the Bomber, which happens in conjunction with the Drag Club, takes place every semester in the Bombshelter Pub and includes Drag Kings and Queens of UW as well as some from the general KW area. The Drag Club also hosts other drag shows at different venues off-campus throughout the semester.

In addition to booths and other events, during Pride Month in the spring semester, the Glow Centre and the EngiQueers both have floats in the Toronto Pride Parade. A bus takes students to and from the Pride Parade. The Glow Centre also participates in the Trans* March, which happens shortly before.

Information for transgender people

It is both unfortunate and unsurprising that UW, like many universities, is ill-equipped to meet the specific needs of the trans community. There is a lack of LGBTQ+ specific counsellors and support groups. Although the attempts of groups like Glow Centre and the Women’s Centre — both of which offer peer counselling — are noble, they may fall short of the requirements of the trans community. Despite this setback, there are some opportunities for counselling and support outside of campus — for example, a transgender peer support group run by Spectrum: Waterloo Region’s Rainbow Community Space, or the Waterloo Wellington Gender Variant Working Group. If you find yourself in need of counselling, the first step should be accessing on-campus resources. If these services prove inadequate, it is always possible to get information other resources through these services. A basic list of off-campus services is provided on the LGBTQ+ page of the UW Equity Office website.