Queer support group set to begin fall 2023

Navigating school life as an LGBTQ+ can be very challenging, especially in an environment where queer students are faced with invalidation from largely heteronormative norms. The need for a group of like minds for people who risk marginalization and bias is thus inevitable.

For Dave Provorse, an associate professor of psychology that teaches exclusively in Washburn’s master’s program of psychology, it’s largely instrumental to the success of this group come next semester.

“Part of my teaching responsibilities is to help a group such as this to converge and come together,” Provorse said. “I teach a diversity course, so the course tries to portray allyship and support and sort of have an affinity for marginalized groups and try to promote that within the course.”

In offering this group as her practicum, Lydia Shontz, a third-year graduate student of psychology, has been able to push the boundaries of her research and gain deeper insight.

“My research has primarily been in gender-affirming care, particularly in the therapy room. So when the idea of a queer support group came up, I was very interested in participating,” Shontz said. “I have, in conjunction with my colleagues, created this group.”

The group, which is expected to fully take shape in the coming semester, is projected to focus on addressing issues like institutional prejudices, discrimination and issues bordering on trauma and trials that LGBTQ+ individuals face on campus and beyond.

“My research is focused on the area of queer gender and sexual minority experiences, particularly in experiences of prejudice and discrimination. And specifically, as a trans woman myself, it is a topic of significant interest to me,” said Wendy Falck, graduate student of psychology “My research has also been on the institutional prejudices that queer people experience. And given what I was reading and what I had experienced personally, I thought that it was really important for us to put together a group that could serve as a space for queer people to come together, bond over our shared experiences but also work to grow beyond trauma and trials that we had faced.”

LGBTQ+ students are encouraged to take advantage of this group next semester as it promises to offer a lot to benefit participants.

“The need in our eyes is to obviously create that safe space for queer students. But I think a bigger piece of it, for me at least is to teach some resilience skills. Given the fact that there is a kind of unique encounter with discrimination and prejudice, both institutionally, interpersonally and intrapersonally as well,” Shontz said. “So our goal is to really help facilitate and give our members tools that they can use in the face of discrimination and unique minority stress, to be more effective and successful in life. That way, it can hopefully mitigate the development of any kind of mental health issues.”

Falck added that interested students can sign up for the group through the information and prompts on flyers that would be circulated.

Edited by Glorianna Noland and Rakesh Swarnakar