LGBTQ support group offers counseling sessions

Teahl Rice

Members of Kent State’s LGBTQ community can register for Outspoken, a support group that hosts weekly individual counseling sessions. The sessions will be held for students and faculty of the LGBTQ community who are in need of any form of support.

Outspoken’s one-hour Wednesday sessions start at noon and will continue to the end of the semester.

Yvette Mendoza, a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and co-facilitator for Outspoken, said its goal is to empower members of the LGBTQ community. It is run by the Counseling and Human Development Center.

Anne Hayman, a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and co-facilitator for Outspoken, said the group exists to help prepare LGBTQ students both before and after the coming out process. With nine sessions left, the first three sessions are about the stages of the coming-out process. The next four are about various coping skills, and the last two meetings will cover what the support group finds most beneficial. The group is a safe place to talk with one of three counselors about defining safe space, finding allies, developing coping skills, defining sexual identity and gender expression and preparing for the coming-out process.

Students will have the chance to talk with Mendoza and two other graduate-level students. Mendoza said all three counselors have had some form of life experience that makes them qualified to be a counselor.

“Outspoken is a place to both get support and give support that regardless of where individuals are in their journeys they are welcome to come,” Hayman said. Mendoza said she believes Kent State focuses on creating a safe, harassment-free environment for its LGBTQ community, and she hopes the sessions reinforce this.

However, there is room for improvement with some of the Millennial age group at Kent State, Mendoza said.

“I feel like (this) generation has been more welcoming and understanding, but not where they should be,” Mendoza said. “I feel like we still have a lot of problems.”

Outspoken is working to create a zone where students don’t feel intimidated or feel worried or judged. The sessions are completely confidential.

Two graduate students started the support group in spring 2013. Both students saw a need that should be met, and were encouraged to start the support group, Mendoza said.

Students can register for a session by contacting the Counseling and Human Development Center at 330-672-2208.

Contact Teahl Rice at [email protected].