Queer Straight Alliance offers safe space for members and supporters of LGBTQIA+ community
By Shelby Larsen
Queer Straight Alliance is a safe environment on campus for students in the LGBTQIA+ community and their supporters. QSA has meetings every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Nebraska Student Union in Room 310.
Dylan Landanger, a sophomore social work major from Kearney, started coming to QSA last fall. Landanger feels that it’s a place he can go to be himself and not worry about negative judgement from others.
“QSA, to me, is a safe place. QSA is a place where people, not always accepted by society, are accepted and welcomed. It is a place of love and respect, happiness and laughter, and a place to let off stress and worry, and be yourself,” said Landanger.
Landanger was elected as QSA’s programmer at the beginning of this semester. He was previously a freshman representative and was excited to move up on the executive board and continue to work with other members.
Landanger’s favorite part about QSA is the mutual respect and support from other members. If he has problems, the people of QSA are the ones he goes to first.
When asked how QSA has positively affected his life, Landanger said, “QSA is a real example that you are not alone.” He said members have often gone through their own similar things in life: mental illness, abuse, bullying, family issues, being pushed away or not accepted simply because you are not straight or cisgender.
Landanger wants students to know that QSA isn’t just for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and welcomes everyone to attend. “Anyone is welcome to come. We only ask that everyone who attends to keep the confidentiality statement and is respectful.”
According to Landanger, QSA is a community for everyone, but an open mind is necessary to attend.
Syd Horken, a sophomore social science and 7-12 education major from Lincoln, is QSA’s current vice president. “I ran for vice president, because after being secretary, I wanted to devote more time and be more active in the group.”
Over Horken’s time at UNK, QSA has been a really important safe space. “QSA has always been my refuge. It’s one of the only places I can go and be myself, entirely without judgement. The friendships and relationships I have made thanks to QSA are priceless. We really are like family.”
Horken says they are always looking for new members. “QSA welcomes everyone with open arms. It’s also a great way to get connected with the community and be active on campus.”
Last fall, a new learning community in campus housing opened, aiming to meet the needs of transgender and other LGBTQIA+ individuals. Gender-inclusive housing is now available at UNK, and Horken wants more students to know about it.
Housing arrangements in gender-inclusive housing are made by preferred gender identity, rather than the gender assigned at birth or legal gender. Students are also given the option to choose what gender identity they prefer to room with.
Horken is the current resident advisor for UNK’s gender-inclusive housing. “Students are usually interested in the community because of the leniency of the ‘gender rule’ in campus housing. They also like that the community is a safe and welcoming space to not only people with differing gender identities but also sexual identities.”
If students are interested in gender-inclusive housing, they can go to the Office of Residence Life page on the UNK website for more information, or they can reach out to Horken personally.
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