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 sexuality and gender 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 community and national organizations.
It is becoming increasingly important for public colleges to make an intentional and visible statement of support for the LGBTTQ+ community. 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, now called Gender and Sexuality Studies. This important moment for the college demonstrated the value of interdisciplinary studies, and the importance of academic theories and research in creating visibility, understanding, and knowledge related to women and LGBTTQ identities and communities.
With the strong encouragement of the GSS faculty, in the fall of 2010, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center was given approval and a space. First located in Berndt Hall, one year later the GSRC was moved to its current location (145 Reed Library) at the heart of campus providing a much-needed support system for women and LGBTTQ students and extending a relationship between academia and the community.
In 2013 a part-time staff person was hired to oversee the GSRC with the help of student interns.