UTSA is severely lacking mental health resources for LGTBQ+ students. This dearth of adequate care juxtaposed with the increasingly severe symptoms of students seeking services is not conducive to the university’s success. These statements aren’t news. However, it is more crucial than ever to bring attention to those who are possibly the most vulnerable amid these circumstances: UTSA’s LGBTQ+ population.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education’s statistics show that suicide rates are three times higher among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth versus their straight counterparts. Rates of attempted suicide are even higher among queer people of color. How can UTSA, in good faith, tout the diversity of the student body if they fail to consider how the summation of its students’ identities determines our external circumstances, thereby informing our mental well-being? Just because marginalized groups exist in a space does not mean that this space is inherently safe for them.
This is especially the case for transgender and gender-nonconforming students, who are two to four times more likely to have mental health problems as opposed to their cisgender classmates. Trans people are especially susceptible to suicide, which 41% of all trans adults having at least attempted. Despite UTSA’s initiatives to create more gender-neutral restrooms and allow trans students to change their preferred names on ASAP, these are only band-aids on a larger issue. In this current socio-political climate, the safety of trans people is especially threatened.
The following is a list of requirements that must be fulfilled to ensure the safety of UTSA’s LGBTQ population:
The university should require safe zones and sensitivity training for all professors.
More counselors need to be hired — no matter what it takes. Students should not have to wait to receive the help they need.
Transgender students should be able to receive letters for a Gender Marker Change by campus counselors.
Hormone Replacement Therapy should not only be prescribable through Mental Counseling Services but available through Student Health Services as well.