By Hannah Patterson
Still new to campus after its establishment in 2018, the Gender Resource Office operates out of the 2nd floor of Jarvis to provide resources, support, advocacy, and education to LGBTQ+ students. The office also provides services to those on campus who do not identity as LGBTQ+.
“Our office promotes inclusion and understanding around issues of gender and sexual identity,” graduate assistant Mariana Gonzalez details. “We focus on LGBTQ+, but we also talk about women empowerment, toxic masculinity, and more.”
The Gender Resource Office offers several resources to students such as TCU LGBTQ+ Foundation, safe places, and social engagement events for community building.
“We can help students connect to other parts of campus when they come across any challenges, but we’re also a safe place for students to have conversations about identity,” Gonzalez highlights. “We’re here to listen and support anyone who comes in the door.”
TCU LGBTQ+ Foundation is a one-on-one training that will soon be available to anyone affiliated with TCU. This training is similar to Safe Zone and other affiliated ally trainings. Those interested should contact the GRO.
Gonzalez explains, “This will be a TCU resource from GRO that we’ll use to educate those interested or even teach others how to train others so more and more people can have this available to them.”
Gonzalez can be found around campus, and now virtually, educating classes and organizations on how to be more aware and accepting of LGBTQ+ identities.
“Maybe a sorority wants me to come talk about women empowerment or a professor wanting their classroom to be more inclusive and aware of different identities,” Gonzalez expounds. “We’re an educational tool for anyone that needs it.”
Every Wednesday from 2-4 PM, the Gender Resource Office hosts an event called “Sip & Tea” where students can have open conversations about whatever they want to express.
“Students can talk about their day or topics such as elections and how that affects LGBTQ+ students or someone who is a woman,” Gonzalez says. “It’s a safe place to have conversations about anything that you want to bring to the table. You don’t have to be an LGBTQ+ student to come, it’s really just a safe place for these conversations to be had.”
With no full-time staff in the office, GRO is working diligently to fulfill its mission for students.
“I’m trying to get a grant for the office to have a full-time staff member because, since I’m a student, I can only work 20 hours,” Gonzalez expressed. “Sometimes I have other professors who volunteer their time to help me with the other 20 hours, but if there were someone else in the office, we could get more done faster and reach more students.”
With the conservative nature of TCU’s Christian college campus, it is significant for students to have an office full of resources and a safe place to be themselves as they may be facing seemingly conflicting
identities, such as being Christian and LGBTQ+, that could cause confusion or internal battles.
“Especially for LGBTQ+ students who may still be figuring out their identity, it may be harder to have these conversations elsewhere, but GRO and ‘Sip & Tea’ act as places where we’re all here to support you no matter what and learn from each other,” declares Gonzalez.
Gonzalez wants students to know they are seen and heard. It is important for them to know the Gender Resource Office is a place they can trust.
“Our priority is students’ wellbeing,” Gonzalez notes. “Not being able to be your full self – at least talk about what’s bothering you – can definitely affect you, your education, or even the way you focus. Students need to know we support the LGBTQ+ community and that we’re a safe place of support and open conversation.”
The office is will soon be creating a GRO Programming Board for students and staff to help facilitate and lead programming to foster an inclusive campus for all identities. Anyone interested in becoming more involved with the Gender Resource Office or volunteering can email Mariana Gonzalez at email@example.com or the office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.