The University of Maryland’s SGA is providing outreach to LGBTQ+ students on campus through letters of affirmation and free gender-affirming garments as community members observe LGBTQ+ History Month during October.
As part of the Letters of Love campaign, SGA members on the diversity, equity and inclusion committee wrote supportive letters for LGBTQ+ students to pick up in the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy.
Muntaha Haq, the Student Government Association’s diversity, equity and inclusion director, helped run the campaign and said the SGA began distributing the messages on Friday.
“We want to engage in positive programming that uplifts our LGBTQ+ community,” the senior international business major said. “We are hoping to enter this as an annual tradition within SGA.”
SGA agriculture and natural resources representative Linsey Anderson participated in the letter writing campaign. It was important for the junior animal sciences major to contribute to be a good ally who used her words “kindly,” Anderson said.
“It just felt like the right thing to do,” Anderson said. “Making sure that students know that they are supported in this community, regardless of how they identify.”
Anderson added that she wrote her letter to make sure students “have someone there to support them and offer them words of kindness where there may not be such kindness in other spaces.”
According to senior government and politics major Grace Hayden, who co-directs the SGA’s health and wellness committee, the organization also hopes to keep providing free tucking and chest binding gear to students.
Through a partnership with this university’s health center and the LGBTQ+ Equity Center, this campaign provided 50 students with gender-affirming gear in the spring 2023 semester.
If the SGA passes a bill renewing the program this year, the organization would have $3,000 of funding for gender-affirming garments.
Senior public policy major and health and wellness committee co-director Jackie Orban said the SGA hopes to ensure inclusion for all students by distributing these resources.
“I think that one of health and wellness’ major goals this year is to ensure that students have access to resources on campus that fit their needs, and diversity, equity inclusion, belonging is core to everything that we do,” Orban said.
Hayden added that the SGA wants to create a measurement station this year as part of the initiative to ensure gender-affirming garments for community members fit as comfortably as possible.
As students at this university look ahead, some are calling for continued LGBTQ+-focused initiatives from the SGA.
Freshman biological sciences major Sophia Jones said she liked the idea of the letters of affirmation. Next, she would like to see the SGA advocate for more safe spaces on campus, she said.
“I know they have gender neutral restrooms and the general studying areas,” she said. “More of those, I feel, would be really nice because it’s really there to meet a community of people that are just like you.”