A new University office will add recognition — but little in the way of additional resources — to Yale’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
The new Office of LGBTQ Resources, which does not have a physical office space, will provide support for all members of Yale’s queer community, said office director Maria Trumpler, special assistant to the deans for LGBTQ issues. In many ways the office, officially launched in a ceremony Thursday afternoon, is just a name, members of the LGBTQ Co-op said. But it symbolizes Yale’s support for what students at Thursday’s ceremony claimed was an oft-forgotten Yale minority — the LGBTQ community.
“It help adds that extra sense of community,” Trumpler said, referring to the isolation she said many queer Yalies feel. “It makes the University feel like a friendly place as opposed to an alien, hostile place.”
Other minority groups have the option of self-identifying in official Yale documentation, Trumpler said, allowing them to form communities around established networks of cultural support. LGBTQ students coming to the University have not had that luxury, Trumpler said — that is, until now. With a campuswide, University-sponsored office, she said, LGBTQ students will have easier access to the support and resources they need. In two weeks, Trumpler plans to launch a Web site for the new office.
But the Office of LGBTQ Resources is incomplete, said the Coop coordinators. The University has yet to hire staff to support LGBTQ students beyond Trumpler and funding — although much better than in years past — is still inadequate, Co-op co-coordinator Rachel Schiff ’10 said.
“There’s still a lot of issues that need to be addressed in the community,” Schiff said. “And the fact that we don’t actually have a physical space says lots about Yale’s stance towards LGBT life on the ground at a metaphorical level.”
Trumpler said she will make finding a new building “one of [her] primary goals in the next few years.”
The four cultural houses have their own building space, and so does the Women’s Center, Shapiro said, but the LGBTQ community at Yale has only the Co-op’s office (a “dingy little room,” as Shapiro put it) at 305 Crown St., six blocks from Trumpler’s office in William L. Harkness Hall.
Despite the lack of a building, all five students interviewed at yesterday’s launch expressed excitement about the opportunities provided by the new office.
“Any time the University throws a reception for Yale’s LGBT community and unveils a new office is something to be excited about,” Shapiro said.
The LGBT Coop has pushed for official University support of LGBTQ life since the 1980s, Anna Wipfler ’09 said, who is writing her senior thesis on the subject.
The group’s first major success came in 1986, when Yale changed its anti-discrimination policy to include people of “alternative” sexual orientation, Wipfler said.