Looking Out: Hopkins expanding space for LGBTQ Life program

The LGBTQ Life program at Johns Hopkins University may have just finished its first year on the school's Homewood campus, but it's already outgrown its digs and is expanding into a new space this coming semester.

Demere Woolway, who started as director of the new lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer program last July, is moving out of a single office space in the school's Mattin Center and across North Charles Street into a larger space in the on-campus Homewood apartments, right next to the school's Office of Multicultural Affairs.

"The idea is that we're going to have a little bit more space so we can have a student lounge area," Woolway said. There will also be a kitchenette and a space for students to complete class and other work.

The move is a response to a "needs assessment" Woolway conducted last spring, where she asked students what they wanted out of the program, which is aimed at supporting LGBTQ students at the university. In all, 278 students responded, Woolway said, and many of them asked for more gathering space to casually hang out and a safe space to hold meetings or complete projects.

Woolway said she also hopes to tap the new space to host support and discussion groups and educational programs, and to continue her work connecting LGBT undergrads with other LGBT students and professionals throughout Hopkins' graduate, medical and research networks in Baltimore.

It could also be used to continue Woolway's work with the school's Safe Zone program, which trains campus community members -- professors, administrators -- how to be an ally for LGBT students. Those who finish the program then post stickers in their offices or classrooms to "be visible and show their support for the community."

Woolway said more than 200 people have participated in the program in the last year alone.

The new space isn't in place yet, but will be opening around the same time students return from summer break, Woolway said. It was partially inspired by similar spaces at other universities that Woolway has visited as a member of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, she said.

"I'm really excited for what the space can bring," she said.

Elsewhere in LGBT news: 

- The Guardian has published a look into how the recent murders of two transgender women in Baltimore has affected the community. It's titled, "Fear and violence in transgender Baltimore: 'It's scary trusting anyone,'" and it's worth a read.

- As you probably have heard, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore hosted a town hall last week, where the center's leaders drew some heavy criticism, including for a lack of transparency. Well, here's their notice that they are hiring for a new permanent executive director.

- Advocate has released its 40 Under 40: Emerging Voices list. You can check it out here.

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