With the beginning of a new school year, students are introduced to a variety of campus services and support. Among these is the Q Centre, the University of Calgary’s centre for sexual and gender diversity, which had an open house on September 6 that brought new faces through their doors.
The open house showcased the space and the resources the Q Centre provides for U of C students.
The Q Centre officially opened in November 2010 and has since served as a “safe space” for those seeking resources or support with issues regarding sexual orientation and questions of gender, according to Q Centre co-coordinator and third-year microbiology student Katie LeBlanc.
LeBlanc said the mission of the Q Centre is to create a safe and welcoming space for the LgBTQA community, meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and allies.
“The centre is here to act as a resource for students wishing to access any sort of information or supplies they might need, including anything from brochures, condoms, lubricant and books. The centre also functions as a safe space focusing primarily on the [LGBTQA] community,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc said this is done by providing the space and resources needed so students can openly discuss elements of their sexual or gender identity without the risk of being judged.
“[In the centre] there are no homophobic remarks, no trans-phobic remarks. Instead, there is a general respect for others’ values, life experiences and opinions,” said LeBlanc.
The Q Centre holds many workshops and events throughout the year. This includes the Outlet Project, a one-on-one peer support program designed to help students in distress.
The centre operates with 20–25 volunteers throughout the year. These volunteers work mostly with visitors in the centre, providing peer support, while also insuring that the space “remains safe,” said LeBlanc.
These volunteers also work throughout campus, working to raise student awareness on issues facing sexual diversity and the LGBTQA community.
“Last year, we had a number of speakers and movie nights to reach a wider audience across campus,” said LeBlanc.
Speakers included U of C communications professor Dawn Johnston, who did a presentation on the portrayal of queer lifestyles in film.
The Q Centre plans to hold similar events this year, while expanding their appeal with activities like their new book club featuring books prominent in the LGBTQA community.
“We make sure to have a welcoming and open space where those values can be shared and that no one is going to be shut down, or made to feel uncomfortable in any way for being different,” said LeBlanc.
The centre’s other co-coordinator, fifth-year math student Darcie Milliken, said the open house was an important way to reach new students.
“We talked to the students who were here for their orientation, and we talked about the centre’s purpose, history and our mandate,” said Milliken. “It was good to see so many new faces.”
Located in 225C MacEwan Student Centre, the Q Centre is open weekdays during the school year and anyone is welcome.