New program to mentor LGBTQ students

A new campus program launching this month is offering guidance to undergraduate students who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.

The LGBTQ Mentorship Program ­— ­hosted by Continuum in conjunction with the Counseling Center — ­will pair LGBTQ faculty, staff and graduate students with undergraduate students who are seeking support in regards to their sexual or gender identity.

Levi Laskowski, a founder of the program, said it aims to help students with anything from "coming out" to professional development.

"What if the school you're attending isn't very affirming?" Laskowski said. "Or what about writing all of your LGBTQ involvement down on résumés and sending it to jobs? What is that going to be like?"

Laskowski said he hopes the mentorship program can answer some of these questions for undergraduate students.

A second-year masters student in the counseling program, Laskowski said he began organizing the mentorship program because he understands how it feels to go through the coming-out process. The person who acted as a mentor toward him helped him through a sensitive part of his life.

"They were always available to speak with me," he said. "If anything it was somebody that I could talk to and voice my own concerns about what I was dealing with. Not everybody has that support I had when I came out, and I want to extended that support to other people if they need it."

Dr. Kyle Kittleson is the mentorship program's faculty advisor. He said he grew involved with the program because he thinks it will benefit both the mentors and the mentees. He also said mentors don't have to strictly be LGBTQ.

"A lot of our mentors are allies as well, so it's a great way to get everybody involved," Kittleson said.

An ally, according to Kittleson, is anybody who is willing to advocate for the LGBTQ community.

"It's going to be helpful for a lot of LGBTQ undergraduates who may be feeling like they don't know what to do with their future, don't know where they're headed," he said. "I think it will be really helpful for them."

Organizers of the program would like to emphasize although all are welcome to seek information about the mentorship opportunities, the program is not designed to be a dating service.

To become mentors, all applicants must go through training on Feb. 16 from 5-8 p.m. at L.A. Pittenger Student Center. To sign up, e-mail Levi Laskowski at continuum@bsu.edu.

To become an undergraduate mentee, complete this survey: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22EKR36ZPHQ. All are welcome to e-mail Continuum with questions or concerns, and there is no deadline to become a mentee. 


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