UNF Digs: UNF LGBT Resource Center Turns 10

Danae Leake

Graphic by Ben Cross
Graphic by Ben Cross

Pride Month Edition

You might’ve noticed more rainbow banners floating around while making Google searches this month, and there’s a reason for that: June is LGBT Pride Month. Now, October has been LGBT Pride History month since 1994, but starting this year, President Barack Obama proclaimed June as LGBT Pride Month to celebrate LGBT Pride and increase awareness of  the still prevalent discrimination toward the community.

So, in the scope of the UNF community, 2016 is a special year for UNF’s LGBT Resource Center because the center turns ten this year. According to the UNF Spinnaker archives, the office opened in February 2006.

There was a significant need for a LGBT office. In a 2006 Campus Climate survey, 50% of LGBT faculty and staff and 34% of LGBT students said they found the UNF campus to be unaccepting or very unaccepting of LGBT students. 26% of LGBT students felt that LGBT individuals felt unsafe on campus.

Emily Rokosch, LGBT education coordinator, chats with students Marcus Google and Dean Bonilla at the office on campus. Photo from UNF Spinnaker Print Archives
Emily Rokosch, LGBT education coordinator, chats with students Marcus Google and Dean Bonilla at the office
on campus. Photo from UNF Spinnaker Print Archives

The University Committee for Equity and Civility recommended establishing the office and Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez, vice president for student and international affairs, sponsored the addition. The goal of the office was to “provide a place for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students to come and feel comfortable.”

Providing support was and still is the primary focus of the department. Since then, the office transitioned into a full-blown resource center, adding on to the list of resources to students such as gender-neutral bathrooms and housing.

In 2009, the center moved into its current home in the Student Union and has become one of two universities in Florida with a full-time staffed LGBT Resource Center. Just this year, College Choice named UNF as one of the nation’s top-50 LGBT-friendly universities. Nonetheless, this happens in light of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance, that would’ve expanded protections to the LGBT community, being pulled from the City Council agenda until further notice.

Even though there are still obstacles for LGBT rights, we can have some peace of mind that the LGBT Resource Center exists and will hopefully be around for another 10 years.  

 

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