Minnesota State University Hosts Second-Oldest LGBT Center in Nation

Article excerpt

In the past seven years at Minnesota State University, Jessica Flatequal has heard about students being assaulted, some fired from their jobs and those losing ties with their family when "coming out."

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These students all dealt with conflicts regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Flatequal directs the second oldest resource center on a college campus nationwide that focuses on students in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

The LGBT center in Mankato, Minn., was established in 1977 behind activist Jim Chalgren, who was a graduate student at Minnesota State and later received state and national recognition in fighting for gay rights. The center is now named in his honor.

"Some people believe that LGBT people are overtly sexually. Lesbians want to be men. They perceive us as a threat or dangerous or pedophiles, which is not even the case," said Flatequal, who identified herself as a lesbian 20 years ago. "Education is the key in fighting these and other stereotypes."

Although LGBT supporters stress education is an integral part in fighting prejudice and spreading truth about sexuality and gender identity, it doesn't deter some from expressing another viewpoint.

In November at Wake Forest University, racist and homophobic slurs were plastered on six fraternity doors. Some students are reported to have committed suicide when directly targeted, such as the case in September 2010 when former Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi died of an apparent suicide after jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York. Clementi, 18, was secretly videotaped by his roommate while being intimate with another male. The video was later shown online.

Flatequal says no serious incidents have occurred at Minnesota State, but the center aims to ensure that all students show compassion and promote diversity among LGBT students and safety. …