In the last 30 years, many public colleges around the nation have instituted resource centers for both women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, and queer (LGBTTQ) students. These centers support and enhance academic and personal growth and build awareness about gender and sexual identity related issues on campus and in the larger community. In general, resource centers provide career and academic resources and support services for all students, faculty and staff. Additionally, centers often provide outreach and education, programming, and links to the community and national organizations.
It is becoming increasingly important for public colleges to make an intentional and visible statement of support for LGBTTQ students, faculty and staff. Similarly, many colleges recognize that women students often face a unique set of challenges navigating their academic careers and entering the professional world. An affirming environment, where students feel valued and supported, is vital to student success—and retention. Indeed, it is progressively becoming a factor as students choose their institutions of higher education.
In 2006, Fort Lewis College approved the Gender/Women’s Studies major. This important moment for the college demonstrated the value of interdisciplinary, and the importance of academic theories and research in creating visibility, understanding, and knowledge related to women and LGBTTQ identities and communities.
In fall 2010, the GSRC was finally given approval and space. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center is a step towards manifesting Fort Lewis College's equal opportunity statement for women and LGBTTQ students. While currently still lacking in resources such as a phone, computers, and adequate space, the GSRC's presence is the beginning of a much-needed support system for women and LGBTTQ students and will extend a relationship between academia and the community. The center will be become intimately connected to the GWS program and reflects a growing consensus of need at Fort Lewis.