The Spectrum Center, the University’s LGBT affairs office, is offering a new program to assist students who are coming out.
Launched last week, the Guidance, Support and Perspective Program, known as GPS — is designed to provide students with information, guidance and assistance regarding issues dealing with sexual identity.
The GPS program seeks to differentiate itself from other Spectrum Center programs through schedule flexibility and the option to meet away from the Spectrum Center to provide anonymity. In the program, students who’ve already come out work with students who are planning to discuss their sexual orientations with family and friends.
The program’s flexibility allows students and their mentors to meet any time during the school year, unlike other support programs that may meet on a weekly basis.
GPS also allows for increased confidentiality. Kevin Correa, the Spectrum Center’s administrative and programming coordinator, said many students who are coming out want more discretion, which GPS provides through an unintimidating environment.
“Students who are closeted or who are uncomfortable with their sexual orientation or gender identity may find the prospect of entering the Spectrum Center or attending an LGBT student group meeting to be too risky or intimidating,” Correa said. “Some may fear being seen by others and being identified as LGBT, some may not be ready to be around a group of LGBT people.”
Correa said the new program is being launched as a response to previous insufficient support programs for students.
“We’ve found that existing coming out support resources were insufficient,” he said. “We needed a new way to support students going through a difficult time.”
After filling out a confidential online request form, students will be matched with a GPS student mentor by a GPS coordinator. The student and the GPS mentor will be paired based on shared identities and backgrounds.
Correa said the program is designed to benefit students who are coming out, and also the students who are providing support.
“It’s also a great way for students who already have experience with coming out to give back to their community by helping others going through a situation they might have been through,” he said.
Correa said the main goal of GPS is to provide a program for students who are coming out to feel more at ease with their sexual identities.
“We hope to give students a new tool to use as they are navigating their way out of their closet,” Correa said. “Hopefully, the program will help students struggling with their identity to feel more comfortable with themselves.”