CMU’s LGBTQ+ Services Supports Youth Through Virtual Programming

In a year of curve balls, the northern Michigan LGBT+ community has faced their own set of challenges through the coronavirus pandemic.

As many resource centers have closed their physical doors because of coronavirus concerns, some groups are finding new ways to support one another.

Central Michigan University’s LGBTQ Services and Gender Equity Program helps hundreds of queer and transgender students every year, and director Shannon Jolliff-Dettorre has gone above and beyond to reach students virtually while they can’t meet face to face.

“Whether it’s coming out, or relationship stuff, or just trying to like figure out who they are, I meet one-on-one with students,” said Jolliff-Dettorre. “We wanted that sense of community that we knew we weren’t going to be able to offer because we’re not doing stuff in person.”

Many students tell her it’s a struggle just to be at home this much this year.

“Sometimes it’s students that are like, ‘I’m nervous to go home over the holidays,’ or ‘how can I be my authentic self while going home?’ [when] they’re not being out or being not being supported?” said Jolliff-Dettorre.

To build community, she started a special support program for her students:

“So back in March, actually, we started a pen pal program, and the intention of the pen pal program was to find a way for students to be cared for, particularly for queer and trans students to be connected and stay in some sort of community,” said Jolliff-Dettorre.

Although these groups can’t be there for each other physically, the availability of virtual support removes barriers for some.

“You know, so many community centers, specifically, are offering you know like virtual drop-ins for support meetings and groups along those lines and so no matter where you are, you’re able to access some of those supports right now,” she said.

For more information on CMU’s resources, click here.

More resources:

LGBT Youth Resources from the CDC:

GLAAD political, legal, military and general resource list:

LGBTQ Suicide Prevention:

Categories: Coronavirus