As the first director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, Lauren Schroeder’s 11-year service to the gay community on campus is slowly coming to an end.
When the center was first established, the director position was only half-time and remained so for three years, according to Schroeder.
With an initial budget of $10,000 and a small and growing collection of lending library, Schroeder has been able to develop the center into a center that now has 2,000 – 3,000 students per semester.
This number is in contrast to the hundreds seen before the center moved to Student Center North.
While working to build the LGBTQ Resource Center from the ground up, Schroeder hoped to implement more information on sexual health. She intended to talk about it frequently, and the center held a few sessions about it.
“This semester, I had a graduate student and an intern develop an internship program for another graduate student, who would be like a sexual health ambassador,” Schroeder said. “And that person can step into the training structure and then provide information about the sexual health of the students.”
Over the years, Schroeder has come across different viewpoints and beliefs as a director, and one of the skills I learned is how to better navigate various other people who have opinions.
“Negative messages that come from the community, especially if they come from a family or a religion that is important to them, these messages deeply hurt our community,” Schroeder said. “In order to stay resilient, we have to stand firm and stay in touch with others who will lift us up.”
Remembering some of the decisions the university has made to be more inclusive, such as the preferred name for students to take charge of the system, Schroeder makes the argument that some students might enter a random name just for fun.
“We’re not going to make a decision about being inclusive of the at-risk population on the basis of about 18 or 19 years old who might be tired and not take things seriously,” Schroeder said. “Those aged 18 or 19 will suffer the consequences.”
After years of serving the LGBT community in UH, Schroeder will cycle frequently, travel to New York to see Broadway shows and continue to share with Lesbians Over the Age of Fifty.
Schroeder’s words of advice to the next principal are to focus on listening to the students as well as learning from any given feedback and being grateful for that.
“I like to make sure I focus on LGBTQ students and specifically support what they need,” Schroeder said. “The other important thing is to educate the people on campus; to continue making UH a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ students here.”